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Hong Kong trip report (thus far)

K K | Dec 29, 201405:31 PM

Still trying to adjust to a bit of jet lag, but whatever food I have sampled thus far is still quite spot on

Cheong Kee (Happy Valley) - upstairs from the wet market cooked food stall. This place is a local institution where they specialize in thick toast. But this visit I managed to finally try their pickled greens pork strip rice noodle soup 雪菜肉絲湯米粉 and it is out of this world. Having had really mediocre version in the USA, the quality and execution of everything in the bowl is just spot on. They seem to have a knack for getting a good quality pickled greens. Best of all is the kind friendly local style service where if you order this and a drink, they won't shortcharge you with a la carte prices and see if you want to do a combo. One drink, one side of toast (not the thick kind for the combo), and a bowl of rice noodles is HK$28. Open in the AM whenever they do till 5 pm like clockwork

Tak Lung (Sun Po Kong) - my photos are stuck in my phone at the moment, but I preordered all the greats. Sweet and sour pork using hawthornes, hawthorn flakes and sticks for the natural flavoring, with a sauce coating that sufficiently covers the pork, along with the frying technique make this a winner. Plus they use pork belly and not pork shoulder and it does not leave that coating of fat in the mouth. Baked sago pudding is also very solid. Gold coin chicken (pork fat cut into a cookie shaped diameter and marinated in rose wine and sugar for a week, chicken liver, piece of cha siu and slow roasted for an hour) plus "duck feet wrap" (deboned duck feet, duck intestines, taro etc) were excellent. Gold coin chicken and a killer Beaujolais Cru 2013 Jean Paul Thevenet that I brought along (free corkage if you do not use the restaurant's VIP room) went great with the meal.

Tai O - Go on Sunday and hit up the charcoal grilled eggettes. On the same side of the street is Tai O Bakery, and a place that sells "Chinese pizza" which looks like a crepe skin with scallions, pickled daikon/radish (house made, fantastic), dried shrimp, plus a bunch of other things that can compete with the best of Taiwanese night market street food. Stone ground shrimp paste is a must buy to bring home to Japan, Canada, USA (take it to your favorite Canto restaurant and stir fry kakung/water spinach with, or steam it with pork belly or pork jowl/neck meat and tofu, or marinate it with chicken wings...so damn good)

Giando - I finally dined at the restaurant where in October Charles posted the FB page of the restaurant where there was a ruckus with a table of local bloggers (they complained about stopping the free flow brunch Prosecco for a girl's birthday party and refused to pay and the restaurant called the police to resolve the matter). Based on some really solid regional Italian in San Francisco proper, I'd say Giando is very good for Hong Kong but it depends on what you order. I loved my spaghetti with ricci (Italian sea urchin) and bottarga. Burrata seems to be a hard find for HK but their appetizer with what tasted like heirloom like tomatoes (maybe Roma) and a marinated eggplant in balsamic was good. Most of the burrata was very creamy with a few chunks a tad elastic and a touch drier that would have benefited from adding some olive oil and a touch of salt and pepper. We have better burrata at A16 (SF) and my friend preferred the version at Delfina. Enjoyed a good Piedmont Barolo 2009 bottle with our table. There was a lot of construction outside the building where the restaurant is located.

Ser Wong Fun - double boiled soups cannot fail here. Tried their Chinese sausage claypot rice and it was heavenly. Ordered a salted fish stir fried with gai lan and it too hit the spot. Tonight we plan on going to a claypot rice specialist shop that also does charcoal grilling, and the chef is ex Kwun Kee from Sheung Wan, so we should hopefully also be getting the claypot stew/broth with pork bones and vegetables.

Yat Lok - I am amazed and yet rather appalled that this place got a Michelin star, but their roast goose is solid. Finally having visited the Central location, it is basically a typical HK cafe cha chaan teng kind of vibe, cramped seating. Guess you have to come right when they open if they are willing to sell drumsticks, otherwise just spend the HK$140 for a lower quarter which will have a drumstick. They must be using a different breed of goose, they are skinner. I love the marinade for the roast, it is just right in terms of saltiness. The skin is not crispy and to me doesn't need the prune sauce for dipping. The meat is flavorful, juicy and overall nicely balanced. My friends enjoyed it as did I. The lai fun on the other hand was average and the broth a touch salty. I prefer the lai fun soup from Bor Kee in Sai Wan, though their goose leg drumstick (should you be lucky to score one) is fattier and larger (smaller than an Anaheim Disneyland fried turkey leg but still a beast nonetheless in comparison). When we left the restaurant there was a sizeable line. Really why bother with Yung Kee or even Kam's.

I have yet to make it to Yue Hing and For Kee for HK style dai pai dong esque sandwiches.

Not going to Nur on this trip.

Happy Valley's Cheung Hing coffee shop (an iconic HK cafe) where lots of celebrities frequented, went through a major remodeling and finally reopened. They were closed last year and I thought they were done for. But they retained the booth seats and the place still has a pseudo retro feel. A slightly better selection than Cheung Heung nearby.

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