Thursday, September 18, 2014

Huaiyang Cuisine in Hong Kong

Just found a brand new Huaiyang restaurant in Hong and tried it out. It was a combination of delicacy and yummy food.

Dinner at Empire City Huaiyang

If you're not too hungry, but have a lot of time and money to spend, this is an ideal place.  Dishes were delicately presented, in relatively small portion however extremely long delivery time.  Going through their menu, the dishes are quite mild, I mean not too spicy, very close to the taste of Hong Kong Cantonese.

Sliced Mushroom (HK$75) 蔬衣麻菇 
These two starters took only 5 minutes to get onto our table.  But then it stopped there.  We got to sit there for anther 30 minutes for the next dish.

The mushrooms were just like a piece of artwork.  Nicely cut, well presented and tasted good.

Salty Duck (HK$125) 鹽水鴨

As Huaiyang is concerned, Salty Duck is an everyday food for people living there, so we must give this signature dish a try.  Not bad at all.  And it was the only meat dish of the night.  We followed the rule of 'more vegetable and less meat' quite well.

Vegetarian Dumplings (HK$60) 蒸素餃
Delivery time:  35 minutes from ordering.  It came in a huge amazing tray, and with the lid off, we found these four tiny, well, medium size vegetable dumpling.  Although we didn't know why the chef chose to serve on lotus leaf rather than a traditional bamboo cage tailored for steaming, it was delicious and the shape was quite creative.

Noodle in Fish Soup (HK$78) 魚湯小刀面
Delivery time: 40 minutes from ordering.  Its Chinese name said 'little knife noodle in fish soup'.  But I didn't find any relation between the noodle and a knife.  The soup was little fishy, meaning it was really fish soup.  With a few slice of ham and egg, it was just next to plain noodle.  And each of us could only share a tiny little bowl.


Boiled Cabbage (HK$108) 開水白菜
Delivery time:  70 minutes from ordering.  You may not believe if I tell you this is a high class super luxury dish.  Indeed it is.  This dish originated from the imperial Qing Dynasty kitchen.  The master chef brought the recipe back to his home town in Sichuan and since then this dish only appears on the most deluxe banquet.  In contrast to its good taste, its appearance is very plain and pale, and is a result of complex cooking steps.  Former Prime Minister Zhou Enlai served his VIP guest at a national dinner and the guest was very reluctant at first however found it to be very delicious after tasting.  

Boiled cabbage name says 'Cabbage in Clear Water'.  The 'water' is actually a well-cooked chicken, stewed through the complex process out of the soup to Sauvignon and clear water. Cabbage in use is the most tender part of a cabbage - hearts only.  The dish at first glance looks like a few flowers floating on water which is completely out of oil. It is not only a food, but an artifact.

Rolling Donkey Dessert (HK$68) 驢打滾
We ordered this dessert on condition that it has to come fast, as we've lost our patience in waiting.  The waiter suggested this one and it actually took only 5 minutes to come.  It was good to have something sweet to wrap up our dinner. Again this is from the Qing Imperial kitchen and we had this in Beijing before.

About this brand new restaurant, there is one thing that I really appreciate which is the space among tables.  The eating environment is perfect.  But there were a few negative things I've observed.  Most of the other guests around us were chasing for food.  Like us, everyone one had lost their patience in waiting. The guests on our next table complaint about their fish, the waiter end up replaced a new one for them.  The tea pot was made of iron, extremely heavy. So heavy that I was unable to lift it.  May be this was why the waiters were friendly helping us to re-fill our cups.  And personally I was not happy with the tea temperature which was not hot enough to be enjoyed.

Cost of Food:  HK$514
Pre-meal Snack: HK$30 ($15 per person)
Tea: HK$40 ($20 per person)
Service Charge: 10%
Total Bill:  HK$642.4 (US$82.4)

Empire City Huaiyang 大都淮陽
8/F Convention Plaza, 1 Harbour Road
Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2628-0218

Hong Kong Food Blog - Huaiyang Dinner




Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mid Autumn Festival - Hong Kong 2014

I have a day off today as it is the day after Mid Autumn Festival. In tradition, Chinese celebrate the festival in three phases - Welcoming the Moon (August 14th), Admiring the Moon (August 15th) and Chasing the Moon (August 16th).

We used to have holiday on the Festival day, ie. 15th, but somehow the former colonial government said people admire the moon at night, they can still work in the day.  However people sleep late after admiring the moon, the following day became a holiday. And this has been practicing after the handover through now.

The Mid Autumn Festival is all about the moon, moon cake, lanterns and many other celebrations.  Let's not only focus on food and talk about the Festival in Hong Kong.

The Moon - Although the moon looks the same anywhere in the world, but this was the one I took after dinner last night.  And I had a second chance of admiring her while on bed - she was shining on my bed through the window. Exactly what Li Bai said - 床前明月光.  It was a bit of luck, because admiring the moon all depends on weather.

Mid Autumn Moon in Hong Kong
September 8, 2014 - 8.16 pm

The Moon and Chang'e - the moon has always been a charming subject and hence there was a legend saying that Chang'e (a very beautiful woman) stole and ate some 'longevity pills' and flew to live in the moon.  In fact she was lonely there with only a rabbit friend.  Hence there was a poem saying 嫦娥應悔偷靈葯, 碧海青天夜夜深. (Chang'e would not stole the pills if she had a second chance.)

Chang'e Flew to the Moon - c.1500BC

The Rabbit Lanterns - this has been a forever symbol of Mid Autumn lanterns in Hong Kong.  When we were kids, we lit the rabbit with candles and we needed to handle with care as we were playing with real fire.  Nowadays there are electronic ones which are more safe.  Knowing that rabbit is the only friend of Chang'e in the moon, it is easy to understand why rabbit lantern is such an important symbol of the festival.


Rabbit Lanterns

Star Fruit Lanterns - there are several fruits more popular around the Mid Autumn Festival.  Star Fruit is one of them.  No wonder star-fruit-shape lanterns has also been one of the most traditional lanterns in Hong Kong.

Star Fruit Lanterns

Traditional Lanterns - although electronic lanterns are widely popular in Hong Kong, but it can never replace the traditional way we play with lanterns.  At home, we prefer to lighting lanterns with candles.  After all, it's more fun although we had to take extra care to look after them.

Traditional Lanterns

Moon Cake and Taro - what has moon cake to do with taro? 'Rich people eat moon cake, poor people eat taro'. What?  Is there such a rule?  Of course not, but in any society, there are rich people and poor people.  Somehow most Cantonese in Hong Kong have heard about this: 有錢人家吃月餅, 冇錢人家吃芋頭.  Mid Autumn Festival is a time when family members get together, enjoy food and celebrate.  If you want to eat something good but cannot afford moon cake, then eat taro instead.  This could be the poor people ridiculing themselves.

Moon Cake and Taro

Pomelo Lanterns and Peels - pomelo is one of the fruits exceptionally popular at Mid Autumn Festival.  As it is large in size, it is good for family members to share.  Apart from this, the pomelo peels are very useful.  You see, the peels are so thick, hence we make lanterns and food out of it.

Pomelo

Pomelo Lantern - it all depend on your skill.  Some people can make very creative pomelo lanterns such as the one here.  

Pomelo Lantern

Pomelo Peels Dim Sum - Some people even turn pomelo peels into food. Today (the Moon Chasing Day), I specially order this pomelo peels over my dim sum lunch as part of the festival celebration.  In fact, cooking of pomelo peels take a bit of time and effort.  My mother used to cook it at home.  We need to get rid of the zest first and then soak the thick peels until soft, add some seasoning before steaming.  Shrimp roes and oyster sauce are usually used. When we were young, we had great fun helping our mother in preparing the pomelo peels and making of pomelo lanterns.


Steam Pomelo Peels with Shrimp Roes

If you want to learn more about the Mid Autumn Festival legends, stories and history, there is an article at the International Business Times.  Take a look and have fun.

Hong Kong Food Blog - Mid Autumn Festival 2014

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Universal Seafood Dinner

This 8-course seafood dinner is very attractive in terms of food and price. Only HK$288 (US$36.9) per person.  It's very delicate, well present and of course very yummy.  Now let see how universal it is.


Chilled South Africa Abalone 
冰鎮六頭原隻南鮑魚
Cantonese believe the best way to eat abalone is to eat it as a whole.  6-head is kind of size reference.  I think it means 6 abalones per catty.  Rarely people eat it chilled, but this one is very well done, al dente and delicious.

Italian Balsamic Jellyfish
意大利陳醋珊瑚海蜇頭
Jellyfish served with black fungi and cucumber, good combination.  Very fresh and the taste of Italian balsamic tastes just right.

Japanese Honey Roast Pork
日本蜜汁义燒
A typical Cantonese delicacy combined with Japanese honey, very tender and juicy roast pork.  It's always my favourite.

Steamed New Zealand Razor Clams
金不換紐西蘭聖子皇
I love razor clams, but not sure of its origin.  New Zealand is famous of clear water and high hygiene demand, so I'm eating with extra confidence.  There are many ways of cooking razor clams, but this is the one I like most.  Steam with garlic puree, jelly noodle and soy sauce, perfect combination.

Sabah Grouper Steak
花雕沙巴龍蠆扖
I was thinking most groupers in Hong Kong came from Australia.  But giant groupers are also imported from Sabah.  As giant groupers are so large, no one can afford to eat the whole fish.  Therefore fish steak is a good option.  The chef chose to steam it on top of silky smooth egg custard with very fragrant Chinese wine Hua Diao.  Very creative recipe, well done!

Deep Fried Canadian Lobster
香草汁加拿大龍蝦

Each one of us have half a lobster. I'm not a professional eater, so I cannot tell the difference between Australian lobsters and Canadian lobsters.  Restaurants in Hong Kong even define South Australian or West Australian lobsters as they cost and taste differently.  Anyway, this Canadian lobster is cooked in quite an unusual way - deep fried.  Together with the herbal gravy, very innovative.  What I don't like about eating lobster is making my fingers messy.  Luckily restaurant provided some hot tea with lemon for us to clean our hands.

Green Vege in White Congee
米湯浸時蔬


Vegetable in stock is quick popular in Cantonese cuisine, but spinach with congee (liquid only) is something new to me.  Again, I like it.  Good taste and creative.

Papaya Pudding
本瓜雪耳糕


Most of the dishes in this menu are quite innovative and creative, including these two desserts.  Papaya jelly on top of pudding, my first time, very nice.

Lou Han Guo with Lotus Soup
羅漢果蓮藕糖水


Lou Han Guo with lotus is absolute new.  I don't know when people invented this but it has been growing in popularity.  As lou han guo has natural sweetness, no sugar is needed.  Even people suffering from diabetes can eat it.  What I don't like is the colour.  It doesn't look good, although tastes good.

This universal seafood dinner set is served in somewhat western style.  Each course is served in per person size, except the vegetable and desserts. Waiters were friendly and efficient.  Restaurant manager told us that they were selling at cost making very very thin margin.  Well that's true, there is no way to eat that many different kinds of seafood with that kind of money. 

8-Course Universal Seafood Set
HK$288 per person (minimum two persons)
Tea and pickles: HK$15 per person
Service charge: 10%
Bill total:  HK$664 (US$85.1)
Advance booking is required.  

Kam Dou Kee Seafood Restaurant
3 Wanchai Road, Hong Kong
Tel: 3907-0878


Hong Kong Food Blog - Universal Seafood Dinner

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Economic Seafood Set

Hong Kong people love seafood.  As a local Hong Kong Cantonese, I'm no exception.  You may think that seafood is expensive.  Well!  In a way it is.  But if you know Hong Kong well enough, you may be able to eat good quality seafood at reasonable prices.

Forget about Li Yue Mun, Aberdeen...forget about 5-star restaurants...those are places you pay a lot of money.  In fact there are many mid to small size restaurants within the city of Hong Kong where you pay much less money for fresh seafood.

The Economic Seafood Set that I have today is only HK$388 for two.  The restaurant only charge HK$6 per person for tea, and they even don't charge any service fee. Here's what we have.


Shark Fin Soup with Crab Meat 紅燒蟹肉生翅
Each one of us had a bowl of shark fin with crab meat, along with some other seafood such as fish mau.

Stir Fried Razor Clam with Black Bean and Pepper
豉椒炒蟶子

The razor clam shells were at the bottom, making the dish look big.  But I would say even without them, the dish is big enough.  I think it should be good for four people.

Pan Fried Giant Prawns 煎大花蝦
Wow, I love these giant prawns.  They were so fresh and al dente.  The way they were cooked matched the taste of prawns very well.  The waiters told us to eat with fingers to make it even more tasty and fun.  Of course they had to offer us moist tissue.

Vegetable with Dry Scallop and Mushroom in Stock
瑤柱北菇上湯時蔬
It's good to have some vegetable as a balance of diet.  But the dish size was so big and made the two of us overloaded.  In fact, this meal size is good for four people, although they served only two bowls of shark fin soup.

Green Bean Dessert 綠豆沙
This green bean dessert was also very well done.  They had some seaweeds and herbs to add to the fragrance.  Just right to wrap up a meal.

Seafood Set for Two:  HK$388
Tea for Two:  HK$12
Total:  HK$400 (US$51.3)
As the restaurant didn't charge 10% service fee, we paid a voluntary tip of HK$10.

Wing Hing Kitchen
Ship Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong

Hong Kong Food Blog - Economic Seafood Set for Two

Message to Shark Fans

Please DO NOT post comments about your shark protection / protest message.  I will NOT publish them.  If you want to protect sharks, here are my suggested methods:

  1. Advertise in mass media
  2. Everyday protests, demonstrations…in front of all shops selling shark fins
  3. Everyday protests, demonstrations in public areas such as streets, parks to educate the public not to eat shark fin
  4. Letter, fax, email, telephone or personal visits to restaurant owners to insist them to remove shark fin from their menu
  5. Write to the government to request shark fin eating to be illegal
  6. Hire fleet of ships to go out to the sea to stop any shark catching activities.
LEAVING COMMENTS IN MY BLOG IS A MATTER OF WASTING MY TIME TO READ AND DELETE.  IT IS IN NO SENSE CONTRIBUTIVE IN SAVING SHARKS.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sichuan Hot Pot Set for 2

Hot Pot meal is good for people who enjoy spending time around the dining table. It is relaxing and fun, however keeps you busy though in doing the cooking yourself.

Over the Easter holidays, I found a Sichuan restaurant with attractive holiday lunch sets.  So after the set lunch, we went to try out the hot pot set.  It was equally good.

The booth we had was very spacious and comfortable for two.  There was no real fire.  The hot pot was set on an electric stove.  We were offered a small side table to ensure that our main dining table won't be too messy.


As for soup base, we can choose between plain version and spicy.  Well, Sichuan spicy soup can be VERY spicy, so we went for the plain version.  In fact there were quite a lot of ingredients inside - tofu, mushrooms, turnip etc.  If you want to try both, you can pay an extra $10 for the dual soup style.


While the soup boils, we had to collect the soy sauce and any other seasoning of our choice.  There were a great many choices for us to pick.

Here's the menu


Suchuan Hot Pot Set for 2

Beef Chuck & Blade (8 pcs) 美國雪花肥牛
Iberian Pork or Sliced Lamb (4 pcs) 西班牙黑豚肉或羊肉片
Chicken (4 pcs) 鮮雞件
Grass Carp Belly or Sliced Grass Carp (4 pcs) 鮮鯇魚骨腩或鮮鯇魚
Beef Tripe (4 pcs) 白毛肚
Mushroom Ball + Fish Ball (4 each) 香菇貢丸, 潮州白魚丸
Enko Mushroom + Chinese Lettuce + Sweet Corn 金菇菜, 唐生菜, 甜粟米
Homemade Dumplings (4 pcs) 家鄉抄手
Sichuan Flat Noddles or Vermicelli or Instant Noodles 四川紹粉或龍口粉絲或公仔面

Complimentary Roseller Drink (2 glasses)
These cool drinks were just good to balance the heat from the hot pot.  I like it.  (See top photo - the tall glass next to the hot pot)

Sweet Potato Soup


To wrap up the meal, we had two desserts which were also free.  Quite an old fashion Hong Kong style dessert.  Just didn't expect to have this in a Sichuan restaurant.  After all, we were extremely full and happy.  I generally eat one meal a day, but my friend also gave up dinner!

Hot Pot Set for 2: HK$168
Cost of Tea: HK$12 per person
Service charge:  10%
Total:  HK$211.12 (US$27)

Sichuan Paradise
3/F One Capital Place
18 Luard Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel:  2205-0020

Hong Kong Food Blog - Sichuan Hot Pot

Monday, May 12, 2014

Classic Hong Kong Cantonese Noodle Snacks

If you've been in Hong Kong long enough, you may have come across many local Cantonese saying 'let's go do a bowl of wanton noodle'.  In fact, noodle is a very important part of Hong Kong Cantonese cuisine.  You can eat it as an afternoon treat or as a casual light meal.

There are many combinations.  Tonight I've opt for a Beef Tendon noodle.  This is quite a bit of a rare choice.  Why?  Chinese believe in 'eat something similar for the best of human benefit'.  Let me make it easier to understand.  If you want to eat something to benefit your brain, eat walnut; if you want to eat something good for your feet, eat chicken legs., etc.  OK?  So now you can guess why I choose beef tendon tonight.  Because I'm suffering from leg problem.

Cooking of tendon of any kind is very complicated at home.  But getting them from any noodle shop is extremely easy and cheap.  So here is my beef tendon noodle, only HK$30 (+$1 for take away).

Beef Tendon Noodle 牛筋面
My noodle looks a little pale, because I've asked to omit the green onions.  It will take hours of time and effort if I have to cook it at home.  Buying from a noodle shop is a short cut.  And it is extremely easy to find noodle shops in the city of Hong Kong.

Below I've collected some photos from the internet to give you an idea of the three most popular noodles in Hong Kong.  In fact there are many variations.  You can choose the noodle base to go with different meat toppings.

Wanton Noodle 雲吞面

Fish Ball Noodle 魚蛋面

Beef Belly Flat Noodle 牛腩河

The cost of a bowl of noodle varies, depending on the class and location of the shop.  Generally it costs from HK$25+.  The one I have tonight is HK$30 and I have to pay $1 extra for take-away.  In fact different shops have different philosophy.  Some charge less for take-away.

Hong Kong Food Blog - Cantonese Noodles

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Holiday Solo Dim Sum

Today (21/4) is the last day of Easter Holidays.  My family went on a belated Ching Ming grave sweeping, leaving me home alone, because I was suffering from leg pain. Since I couldn't walk much, eating have been the main theme of my holiday activities. 

Eat well to cheer up a sick person.  Even I'm alone, I still go on a slightly luxury solo dim sum lunch to wrap up my Easter Holidays.

Sportful Garden Restaurant is quite a high-end restaurant nearby my home. The food there is not bad at all, but every time they had something to upset me.

Today I ordered four of their signature dishes.  In terms of tastes, they were alright.  But in terms of presentation, services and cost of money, I was not satisfied at all.


Roasted Crispy Pork Belly (HK$58) 冰燒三層肉
Restaurant may be short of manpower over the holidays.  But there is no excuse for any restaurant to present any dish in this manner.  Click here to see a proper presentation of the same dish.

Pork Dumplings with Whole Abalone (HK$58) 原隻鮑魚燒賣
This is another signature dish of the restaurant as it claims to be an Abalone Specialty shop.  Presentation - so so, could be better considering the money they are charging.  Waiters could be busy over the holidays, but that was not an excuse to dump a dish onto the table.  Of course I could not expect a waiter to serve with any super graceful manner, but with some care and respect, at least!

Steamed Rice Roll with Shrimp (HK$33) 春風得意腸
They claim this as one of their private label signature dishes.  This is the most normal dish of my meal today.  Quite nice, but I was unable to determine what the crispy stuff inside, apart from the shrimps.

Almond Tea with Egg While (HK$24) 蛋白杏仁茶
Many a time I come to this restaurant intentionally for this dessert. Not sure if it is a matter of inflation, they didn't raise the price but seemed to have shrunk the size and the content of egg white.

Solo Dim Sum Lunch
Food cost: HK$173
Tea cost:  HK$10
Service charge: 10%
Total:  HK$201 (US$25.7)

Sportful Garden Restaurant 陶源酒家
1 Fleming Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel:  2258 7688

To summarise my yummy Easter, here's what I had.
Day 1 (April 18, Friday) - German buffet lunch
Day 2 (April 19, Saturday) - Dim Sum buffet lunch
Day 3 (April 20, Sunday) - Sichuan Lunch Set special
Day 4 (April 21, Monday) - Dim Sum solo lunch, signature dishes

My Eating Philosophy - To Eat Well and To Stay Slim
If you care to find out why I write this blog, you may realise I have eating problem and yet I overcome it by short term fasting.  It may seem that I've eaten a lot over the holidays.  Well, yes, I did, at least eating much more than I normally do. However I'm still keeping one meal a day.  So apart from the four meals above, I ate nothing else over the holidays.  So this means one meal every 24 hours.  But I don't restrict what I eat, I simply eat whatever I love to.  

There is another fitness philosophy called Eat Well Every Other Day.  Meaning you eat a restricted amount of calories on day 1 and on day 2 you eat whatever you love to.  If you want to explore my option of staying fit, there is a book called Eat Stop Eat.  Don't worry, I'm not asking you to eat one meal every 24 hours like me.  If you follow the ESE way of short term fasting, you only have to do a 24-hour fast twice weekly.  Well, if this looks possible, give it a try.  Or there is another book called The QOD Diet: Eating Well Every Other Day which is also worth reading.

If you want to eat well and at the same time stay fit, short term fasting is an interesting topic to explore.

Cheers
Anna
Easter 2014