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Hong Kong - report on five "nice" dinners

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Hong Kong - report on five "nice" dinners

DC in DC | Dec 5, 2005 10:27 AM

Recently returned from an amazing (first) trip to Hong Kong and I owe folks here a big "thanks" for food tips, plus a report:

We enjoyed five "nice" dinners, and culled these from an original list of 25 or so candidates. If you're traveling to Hong Kong and looking for highbrow eats, I'd highly recommend each of the following:

Da Ping Huo - Sichuan in a lovely private setting (we guessed it's an art gallery during the day; anyone know for sure?). Set menu: 12 or 15 courses, great variety (small-bowl appetizers, entrees of chicken, crab, veggies, soup, fish, etc), some fiery hot and others just plain hot. The crowd appeared to comprise mostly native Hong Kongers, with us as the only tourists. The owner's wife, the chef, came out at the end of the meal to visit each table - then to our shock, she performed a Chinese opera song. Quite an experience.

M at the Fringe - Continental food in a setting that resembles a comfortable but luxurious highbrow French apartment. I chose a souffle; my husband had lamb confit; we also had salads and desserts. Everything was delectable, and service is top-notch. Not surprisingly, the crowd was mostly Westerners.

Hutong - Stunningly beautiful setting; the restaurant is on the top floor of one of Kowloon's highest skyscrapers, and the restaurant enjoys staggering views of the Hong Kong skyline and Victoria Harbour. It's also incredibly furnished, evoking... I don't know... a fancy Chinese opium den with low lights, candles, and the sensation of nooks and crannies, even though it's pretty much one large open space. With such a view, we were prepared for mediocre food but were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. The menu is more than 10 pages long and its range is somewhat bewildering (in a good way). We ordered several plates: shrimp with red peppers, string beans with ground pork, etc, etc, and not one disappointed. The food was flavorful, fresh, and the dishes meant to be spicy were unrestrained. The crowd seemed mostly native with a handful of Western tourists sprinkled about. (P.S. Hutong has the prettiest restaurant bathrooms I've ever seen.)

Cuisine Cuisine - I was skeptical of restaurants in shopping malls but CC changed my mind. Food (Chinese - no one particular region that I could discern) was delicious: shrimp, fish, pork were all flavorful and fresh - if a tiny bit less adventurous than Hutong or Da Ping Huo. Setting is also beautiful and modern, with views of the Harbour and Kowloon and sidelong views of the skyline. Excellent service. We appeared to be the only tourists. (Women beware: they aggressively air-condition the place. Bring a wrap.)

Yellow Door Kitchen - a private kitchen specializing in Shanghaiese food. We were seated downstairs, in the jazz-club space. Decor was fairly nondescript but benign. Fixed menu: 15 or so courses covering a wide range: starters, entrees (chicken, fish, pork, veggies), and a soup dessert. Many were very, very spicy - yum. (They also serve a special Shanghai hairy-crab dinner, as another option.) The highlight of our meal was unquestionably a whole roast duck, stuffed with sticky rice, sausage, and mushrooms, all slowly braised. The meat fell off the bone; the skin was carmelized and sweet, and the stuffing added fantastic flavor and variety. (I'm salivating now, just writing about it.) I think my husband and I agree: aside from the pork buns (which we ate ashamedly every morning), if we could return to Hong Kong for one single food item, it would be Yellow Door's duck. Service/timing was excellent and very professional. Clientele was a mix of Asian and Western Hong Kongers; we appeared to be the only visitors.

Any of these places should be easy to find on the Internet, and each required reservations. I hope these reports help others - and thanks again to everyone for helping us narrow down our original list. We can't wait to return and try more!

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