Hong Kong has a reputation as a place to greedily indulge an appetite. When the typhoon subsides and it is once again possible to step outside you can eat almost anything, cooked almost any which way. It said of the Hongkongers that they will eat anything with legs except a table and anything with wings except a plane which is perhaps to exaggerate, but not by far.
The cuisine on offer in HK is tremendous and varied. You could spend a fortune at l’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in the glittering glories of the Island or you can go where few tourists do, where the staff might not have fluent English but do know what good food tastes and looks like. In Kowloon on Fuk Wing Street the Michelin Guide -in its wisdom- has gifted out three mentions and where there are many other restaurants of great merit. It is a diner’s paradise.
At the very start of the street is Tim Ho Wan, a place almost entering into the world of myth. It is simply the cheapest place in the world to eat food with a Michelin star. It is a world class Dim Sum restaurant. The baked Char Shui Bao are delightful and what draws in the crowds. These are crisp on the outside and yet magically yielding. They are intensely savoury, enticingly sweet and harmonious. If you’re in Hong Kong you simply also have to have Shu Mai, Har Gow. The twin prawn dumplings are as important to Hong Kong as deep crust pizza is to Chicago.
Further along this road of wonder at 43 Fuk Wing Street is a Dai Pai Dong, or street restaurant. That title of street restaurant doesn’t quite do justice to this vast enterprise. It takes up almost a block, all with the same teal melamine dinner plates, all served by the same yellow uniformed staff and the occasionally more provocatively clad beer girls. The tables here are covered in plastic sheets and the regulars knuckle down to eat traditional Cantonese seafood. This is the place to come, drink down some refreshing Tsing Tao and devour a plate of prawns cooked in a number of ways. Some are halved and steamed with buckets of garlic, others are called ‘drunken’ and deep fried then doused with rice wine, and my favourites are coated in salted duck egg yolk and then fried, at once crisp, decadent, messy and unspeakably delicious.
At 101 Fuk Wing Street is a Thai restaurant eccentrically and perhaps aggressively decorated in glaring white and startling neon green. It also has a Michelin star and the kindest staff you will likely ever meet. Their curries which are rich with coconut milk are silken. The flavours, as you would expect of Thai cooking, are clear and bright. It is actually rather refreshing to have food which is fresh and quite light in HK. There is real attention in the preparation and that is a delight.
Little more than a hole in the wall the Yunnan Noodle House at 117 Fuk Wing Street serves the fiery, numbing and intense chili noodle broths found in South Western China. This regional style of cooking is increasingly popular in the west but still hard to find. At this restaurant, the sheer wave of flavours- the chili heat, the sour preserved cabbage, the meaty broth, and the breathy garlic- can leave you feeling a little stunned and their version of Baby Spice is rather more like Scary Spice. It is addictive.
Hong Kong loves anything that can be eaten with chopsticks but it has a special place in its stomach for noodles. The noodles at Lam Sue Kee at 82 Fuk Wing Street are made in-house and have a beautiful toothsome quality. They have become legendary and earned a Michelin Star. They are served, as is typical, in a wanton soup of rare depth and clarity of flavour but also dressed with shrimp roe which is rich and heady and quite sensual actually.
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