October 9, 2011

First stop, first post: Hong Kong

I guess I could have skipped writing about Hong Kong. Because Hong Kong is not just the first stop of our big trip, but also the city in which Tom and I have been living in for the past five years. I was actually not planning on doing a post about Hong Kong in the first place. In my mind, the real adventure would start next week, after this first stop only, which was rather meant to sort out a few last administrative matters and say one more good bye to our family and friends here.

But once back "home" for the weekend - after spending the Summer back in my native "home" France - I quickly felt like not writing at all about this first stop would be like some kind of betrayal towards the city which offered me to discover and better understand Asian cuisine, and more than that, rapidly and truly fall in love with it. So here I am, back for the weekend, starting my brand new blog with a few words about you, my dear and so tasty Hong Kong.

I said Asian cuisine, because the Hong Kong culinary stage is about much more than Chinese delicacies, however finely prepared they may be. Sure the whole array of Chinese regional cuisines is wonderfully represented here - from local Cantonese to northern Shanghainese, Pekingese and crazy spicy Sechuanese which I like so much, to mention only a few. The international fare is no less represented, and I surely enjoyed the great French and Italian meals which I had the chance to be served in some of the most prestigious addresses of the city.

But what I enjoyed the most about Hong Kong, is that here I got to sample some foods and encounter tastes, the existence of which I had no idea. I was surely not expecting such a burning sensation upon my first mouthful of Japanese kimchee! Hong Kong offers the very best while most authentic of each Asian cuisine. Natives settled here still prepare traditional recipes, while having access to high-quality products - resulting in some dishes tasting even better than in some low-key places of Vietnam or India for instance.

As elementary as it may sound, I finally got to understand the difference between Vietnamese and Chinese food (commonly mixed up in France), to realize how incredibly diversified Chinese cuisine can be, to enjoy (adore would be more appropriate!) Indian food, and to try Thai and Korean cuisines for the very first time. While my food comprehension was still somehow limited by the frontiers of Europe a few years ago (which does not mean I was not already very enthusiastic about anything related to food and cooking then) it is clear that my time in Hong Kong considerably grew my awareness, appreciation and therefore my passion for food itself too. Merci Hong Kong !

To finish this first post and wish myself luck with my new blog, I have listed below 8 Asian foods which delighted my senses enough to obsess my mind for a while after trying them for the first time. Note that this is far from being an exhaustive list, as I have way too many dishes and places to recommend in Hong Kong. However, if you happen to be in Hong Kong and are looking for a certain type of food, please feel free to drop me a note and I will be delighted to share with you my favorite place for it!

1. Hong Kong Dan Ta (egg tarts). Having tried quite a few, I strongly recommend the all time favorite Tai Cheong Bakery on Lyndhurst Terrace in Central.

2. Sichuanese Dried Crispy Chili Beef. Go to Red Pepper Restaurant in Causeway Bay, which in addition to serving great food, also hosted the shooting of some of Bruce Lee's fight scenes for The Game of Death.

3. Cantonese Char Sui Bao (steamed barbecue pork buns). My favorite place to enjoy these along with many other freshly made dumplings is the pretty tea house, Dim Sum, in Happy Valley.

4. Lobster with braised e-fu noodles. I like it best with what is usually called cheese sauce but is more of a starchy white sauce. Restaurants along Sai Kung and Lamma waterfronts are good places to have this dish.

5. Yeung Chow Fried Rice. End your dinner at The China Club with a sophisticated but oh so good version of this rice dish, or prefer the more down-the-earth Harmony Restaurant in Sheung Wan for the authentic recipe.

6. Indian Malai Kofta (cottage cheese and dried fruit dumplings, with a rich creamy sauce and optional cashew nuts). No choice: Jo Jo Mess Club in Wanchai.

7. Vietnamese Bo Bun (cold rice vermicelli salad). Nha Trang in either Wanchai or Central serves an excellent one.

8. Japanese Katsu Curry (breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet in curry sauce). If you missed it while in town, make sure you've got a bit of time before take off to grab one at the airport! Specialist chain Saboten serves my favorite version outside of Japan in the departure hall.

Hong Kong Dan Ta, Tai Cheong Bakery

Tai Cheong Bakery, Hong Kong

Japanese Katsu Curry, Saboten

1 comment:

normanleung said...

Florence - it's Norman. Stumbled upon this blog from your profile. Great pics and recommendations - wish you all the best on the trip!

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