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Hong Kong Restaurant Recommendations

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Wang Lai Yuen in Whampoa Gourmet is very well known for dan dan mein.  Everyone I know that's been there, loves it.  I've tried to go there a couple times but have always been deterred by long lineups (which are a good sign, I guess!)

The owners ran the late great dan dan mein shack in Diamond Hill squatter area for 50 years, and haven't changed the recipe.  Thanks for reminding me, I'll have to make another attempt to go there.

I've been to other HK branches of two of the other restaurants there, Spicy Crab and Guangdong BBQ.  Both are good but no need to make a special trip to Hung Hom to visit them.

Link to all the restuarants at Whampoa Gourmet:

http://www.whampoaworld.com/choi_e.htm

I checked the Whampoa Gourmet website and was surprised that they have a Huang Jia Sha branch there. Huang Jia Sha is a place (almost the place) for excellent dumplings and "small eats" in a fast food format in Shanghai. Along with Din Tai Fung, it sounds like an all-star fast food lineup.

I don't think Whampoa Gourmet as such existed when I worked in HK six years ago. Is it in near the KCR terminus? There seemed to be major construction in that area when I was there.

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Whampoa Gourmet opened fairly recently. I estimate around 2 years ago.

-Steve


Edited by SteveW (log)

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Yes, it's only been there for a couple of years. Gary, it's in the building basically on top of the Whampoa bus terminal, right beside the landlocked concrete boat. Same building as the UA cinema.

Directions for visitors:

Take bus No 8A from Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Bus Terminal, or take green minibus No 6 in Tsim Sha Tsui (Hankow Road), and alight at the last terminal. Whampoa Gourmet Place is adjacent to the terminal. Go up escalator to the 1st and 2nd floors.


Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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HKDave,

Have you discovered the two new(ish) Sichuan restaurants in HK?

1. Man Jiang Hong, First Floor, Thai Kong Building, 482 Hennessy Rd., Causeway Bay. Tel: 852-2838-8811. I love the dumplings here... the dumpling casings are fantastic and they don't hold back on peppercorns or chilies (or oil for that matter). Downstairs is a great little shop selling the Sichuan peppercorns and chilies, plus a whole lot of other fascinating Sichuanese products.

2. The Sichuan hotpot restaurant near Wanchai MTR station. If you're standing on Johnson Rd and facing the station entrance, look up to your right, you'll see what looks like a Japanese restaurant--it's on the first, second and third floors of the building on the corner. Its specialty is fish head hotpot. I just can't do the eyes.

There's also the older Q Restaurant at 134 Wan Chai Rd... very basic hole in the wall place that specializes in noodles... fantastic dan dan mian.

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Tried that hotpot restaurant twice already. It's OK but the ma la hotpot is not that hot. The fish are pretty good though but I don't really think it is all that much better than any other hot pot place in town.

Have not tried Man Jiang Hong but it is always packed. One of these days, I will give it a try.

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Hi anniewood,

I knew about 'Q' and that hotpot place, but not Man Jiang Hong - thanks for the suggestion! I love dumplings.... also good to know about that shop selling Sichuan ingredients.

The best dan dan mein I've had in HK recently - this is going to sound strange - was in the Cathay Pacific business lounge at HK airport. They have a noodle bar in the lounge (there are 2 lounges, both have noodle bars), and the dan dan mein is great, as long as you spike it with a bit of extra chili oil. I'm trying to find out their recipe, it looks very simple to make but I haven't been able to re-create it.


Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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Sichuan Da Ping Huo is a winner! We are quite picky about our Sichuan food as we have lived in Chengdu, and I am mistrustful of Sichuan dishes served in an "upscale" atmosphere. Don't let the lovely decor, relatively large number of expats and western tourists, and ultra-hip local clientele (more concerned with their Moet, cell phones and walkie-talkies than with the food and their dining companions, it seemed) put you off. This is real Sichuan cooking, not prettified (thought the ingredients are top-notch --- up to and including the fresh not dried "facing-heaven" Sichuan chiles), not degreased (plenty of fiery red oil left on serving plates after the food was consumed, and definately toned down in terms of ma-la heat. Of twelve dishes, 3 were not spicy. Highlights were a classic pork with peppers and black beans (and lovely slivers of Chinese celery and crisp pickled vegetable) and a classic pea green soup (thin, light broth seasoned with black pepper rather than red chili) that reminded me of the best cooking I've had in homes in Chengdu. Dinner ran about 2 1/2 hours, ended with a song by the chef, and cost 250 HK dollars per person, excluding beverage. Given the huge amount of food (not dainty-sized plates, though I probably didn't have to eat ALL of what was swerved to me), impeccable quality of ingredients and preparation, and setting, this is quite a bargain for Hong Kong.

If you speak Mandarin you'll get rather more explanation of the dishes from the owner/artist ---- but you'll still feel quite welcome if you don't.

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mistyped --- I meant that the ma-la flavors were *not* toned down at all.

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ecr, thanks for the report, I'll definitely give Da Ping Huo another look - your experience sounds a lot better than others I've heard. BTW, you wouldn't happen to be foodfirst, would you? I saw a similar question to yours on another board. If so, thanks for that great addition to my Saigon post there....

On Saturday I went to both Q and Man Jiang Hong per Anniewood's post (thanks again, Annie!), above, and they're both authentic. Q is a great deal, HK$15 -20 for dan dan and variations thereof (and that's basically all they serve), Man Jiang Hong is a full menu Sichuan restaurant. I bought a jar of Q's 'special sauce' for $50 for making my own dan dan at home, then found basically the same thing 15 minutes later at the shop under Man Jiang Hong for $20 :-(

The people sharing our table at Q recommended another (more upscale?) Sichuan place, which the Q people or their friends apparently own: Sijie Sichuan Dishes, Unit 289, 2/f Kowa Building, 285 Lockhart Road Wanchai, tel: 2802 2250. Haven't tried it out yet, but hope to soon.

And now I must humbly apologize for saying above "I can't recommend anywhere for 'good homestyle' Sichuan food in HK " There definitely are some good options!


Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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Ah, duly noted for next trip to HK in a couple months. Maybe we'll make it an "all-Sichuan" trip (with breaks for dim sum). About those dandan mian -- I hope they were the version that do *not* include sesame paste in the sauce?

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Nope, Q uses the oil-based type of sauce. There are some sesame seeds in it, but they're not crushed. They serve the noodles and sauce in one bowl, and a broth (which looks like rice water with some green onion) in another. It's not fancy but the flavour is there.

I didn't try the dan dan at Man Jiang Hong, but everything else there was good. Their prices are also very good by HK standards - more than 4 of us could eat, with 3 beer, for HK$600. Reserve a table early, they are busy.

This week I copied Q's recipe at home using Shanghai noodles, their sauce, some ground pork, garnished with crushed peanuts and scallion, and it was the real deal. Use less of that sauce than you think.... good news is now I don't have to go to Wanchai or Whampoa (or the mainland) when I need a dan dan fix.


Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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The China Standard article

The poll of 830 consumers, aged 12-54 in the past six months, found about 98 per cent visited fast-food shops. From 2001 to 2003, the number of fast-food shops rose by 14 per cent, from 520 to 593, or 10 per cent of Hong Kong's restaurants.  The survey found that frequent fast-food diners tend to be adult, male blue-collar workers, visit a fast-food outlet seven times per month, and spend an average HK$22 each time. Some 11 per cent of the respondents said they patronised fast-food outlets at least five times a week, spending an average HK$2,836 in the past six months. And Hong Kong's favourite fast foods? A hamburger or sandwich, washed down with either hot milk tea, carbonated soft drink or hot coffee.

for this one needs no chopsticks :sad: .... looks like this is the hit of the year with the people of Hong Kong ....now I need to use a currency converter to figure out the value of the HK dollar .... :rolleyes:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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So sad. And it's happening all around the world. What I loved about HK was how even in mall food courts you could get great noodles and other Asian fare. My sister and I wished we could import HK food courts to the U.S.!

As to currency conversion, I think the exchange rate is such that you can still get a decent approximation of U.S. dollars by dividing the HK dollars by 8.

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I'd agree Hest - the HK food courts are superb.


PS

Edinburgh

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I was influential in starting the so called fast food business in Hong Kong, but please consider that it has always been customer orientated, by Quality, Price and Acceptable Criteria very different than the Generic type of Fast Foods sold in the United States.

They would never accept the type of products merchandised in the States, such as Roast Beef, Ham or Turkey Sandwiches that all taste the same in a blindfold testing done several times yearly where the testers are not able to taste any difference during the tests of each product, from a major fast food chain.

The quality available must be consistent, tasty and indicative of expected tastes and flavors particular to Hong Kong or you don't remain in business. Also take into consideration that rents are generally higher then the States per square foot.

The business that I started is slightly more up scale and now has in excess of 430 locations in Hong Kong, plus has sold off and diversified into Bakery, and Licensed Fast Food Business as well as Franchised.

Irwin


I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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So sad. And it's happening all around the world. What I loved about HK was how even in mall food courts you could get great noodles and other Asian fare.

But don't you see how the importing of various Hong Kong favorites to America has increased our sense of culinary choices? There are so many more items which we have available now than when I grew up here.

And just maybe the "novelty" of American fast food will cause certain boredom in the minds of these same folks over time, at which time they may chooe to return to their more comforting, familiar cuisines and just consider it nostalgia ... :rolleyes:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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The other fast food business of HK, they are the essential part of Hong Kong busy life style. Maxim, Cafe de Coral, and Fairwood are the three most popular fast food operators.

My parents like Fairwood if they don't feel like cooking. One portion is big enough to be shared by two people, and you could always ask for more rice. Maxim has a variety of interesting restaurants, I like the EXP in Festival Walk. It is just weird seeing all those fast food restaurants changing their interior design, menu, and sign to upgarde. :wink:

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for this one needs no chopsticks :sad: .... looks like this is the hit of the year with the people of Hong Kong ....now I need to use a currency converter to figure out the value of the HK dollar .... :rolleyes:

I've always used $1 US =$7.75HK

$10HK=$1.30US

For Chinese renminbi, I use $1US=$8 yuan


Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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The fast food in Hong Kong is very different from the fast food in USA. With places like Cafe de Coral or Fairwood, they probably serve more fast Chinese food (something over rice kind of dishes) than hamburgers. The main object is "fast". Tastes are usually okay, but not as good as from the traditional restaurant. But if you are in a hurry to get a meal (and who isn't?) or want to be economical (and who doesn't), it's really a good alternative than going to traditional restaurants.


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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The quality available must be consistent, tasty and indicative of expected tastes and flavors particular to Hong Kong or you don't remain in business.

I am not so sure about the consistency and the quality part.

When I used to live in Hong Kong, the experience of going to one Cafe de Coral could be very different from another. It seems that each kitchen hires its own cooks. Some are just not as good as the others. While most meals are acceptable, occassionally (well, more often than I liked) I got served overly salty dishes, burnt deep-fried chicken thigh, and bland dinner soup and so on.

Did Cafe de Coral go bankrupt? Hardly. I think convenience and low-price are the major factors that made those chained fast food places so successful... even though millions of Hong Kongers know they can get much tastier meals in local restaurants. Do I go to a Cafe de Coral because I long for their "high quality" coffee or fried chicken wings? Not a chance.

On the other hand, U.S. Franchises like McDonald's can really claim their consistency and quality marks. Not that I like hamburgers much, but I remember tasting the McDonald's in London, Paris, Cologne, Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing and found them to be very much like the ones I had in the USA. Well... it's just hamburgers. The cooking process (and thus quality control) is much simpler.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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The fast food in Hong Kong is very different from the fast food in USA. With places like Cafe de Coral or Fairwood, they probably serve more fast Chinese food (something over rice kind of dishes) than hamburgers. The main object is "fast". Tastes are usually okay, but not as good as from the traditional restaurant. But if you are in a hurry to get a meal (and who isn't?) or want to be economical (and who doesn't), it's really a good alternative than going to traditional restaurants.

I don't really know what you mean by traditional restuarant. Do you mean like where you sit down and someone comes to take the order? There are lots of restaurant in Hong Kong with the same or lower price than those fast food chain. But people like those fast food chain because they are often more reliable(chain don't want to ruin their names), quality food at a reasonable price, ever changing menu items, and clean.

Their menu are really diverse, they have bbq meat with rice, western/chinese style breakfast, Japanese style noodles/rice, hot pot, clay pot dishes, tea time, sizzling dishes, and lots more.

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let me stick my oar in on this one.

Theres a few reasons why HK fast food culture has become so much stronger of late.

1. Hong Kong remeber has a massive population in such a small area.

Almost everyone lives in apartment blocks where the average kitchens are tiny!!! literally a mouse swinger!!! I mean less then 3 sqm of kitchen space. This was the original reason why HK had such a strong fast food culture that, convenience and price.

2. SARS - since the outbreak last year Hong Kong has gone on a hygiene blitz the streets are a lot cleaner the back alleyways that used to be rubbish areas have been cleaned up. But when SARS was still present many people chose to stay at home rather then mingle with others at restaurants. Naturally the streethawkers and smaller family run eateries would be the first to be hit as they don't have a branding or reputation people can trust nor do they have the finances to weather the storm.

A lot of these places closed down leaving the chains.

3. Food scares - Hong Kong people are generally superstitious and also have an overly cautious attitude ie: they scare easily. There have been constant news reports this year of food poisoning scares coming from mainland China some have been due to negilgence other have been deliberate poisoning. There have also been several reports of counterfeit food!! Were cheap below grade food has been repackaged up then sold on as a branded product!!!!

With these factors and probably others you can easily understand why people are going to chains more not because they taste better but because of price, conveninece and reputation. Big chains regardless of taste are competitive and have rigorous quality standards in place that the public can trust.


"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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Wait a minute. We're talking about two different beasts here.

And Hong Kong's favourite fast foods? A hamburger or sandwich, washed down with either hot milk tea, carbonated soft drink or hot coffee.

This is very different from the HK-style Western dinner plates, like macaroni with ham and oxtail over rice, I think.

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I don't really know what you mean by traditional restuarant. Do you mean like where you sit down and someone comes to take the order?

Traditional restaurant = you are served by a waiter/waitress; you sit down and order; dishes are made to order; you pay after you eat.

Versus

Fast Food = self serve, cafeteria style; you order and pay first then pick up your order (or they will bring it out to you); dishes are mass-produced, you have only limited choices from the menu of the day.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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