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[Hong Kong] The seafood of Lamma island


Kent Wang
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Lamma is a small island about a twenty minute ferry ride from Central. The island is not yet very well developed and most of its natural beauty is still preserved. There aren't even any roads that can accomodate automobiles; everyone rides around on bikes and golf cart-sized trucks. My parents and I stayed there for two nights and I highly recommend lodging on the island over the mainland as it is affordable, quiet and rustic while still only a short distance from downtown Hong Kong.

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There a number of seafood restaurants scattered along Main St each with large tanks of live seafood in front to entice the customer.

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Those are cuttlefish in the middle tank.

We avoided the two biggest restaurants nearest the ferry dock as they seemed overpriced. Upon the recommendation of our innkeep we went to Lancombe Restaurant a bit further down on Main St. for lunch.

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There is both inside and outside seating. We took a spot with a view of the docks.

After taking our drink orders the waiter invited us to go to the fish tanks to pick out our meal.

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The spotted fish in the middle goes by the name of "Gold Coin Grouper" as its spots resemble coins. We'll meet him again very soon.

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A myriad of molluscs.

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The kitchen. Check out all the steaming racks and the wok burners.

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Razor clams in szechuan sauce.

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Lobster on ramen-like noodles.

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Sea snails. A bit tough, but that seems to be inevitable the bigger they are.

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Crab. All the shellfish seemed to be of different variety than what I have seen in America; this crab is spotted and the lobster had a striped shell.

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We meet our Gold Coin grouper again, now steamed with ginger and scallions.

We should've asked that all the dishes be prepared with just ginger and scallions. Although the sauces were all fine it would've been to best to experience the fresh seafood with as few seasonings as possible. I liked the razor clams the most though it's always hard to beat lobster. Lunch for three came to HKD 1000 (USD ~130), expensive by Mainland China standards but I think average for Hong Kong. I don't think this meal could've been had in the U.S. for below USD 250 though it's an unfair comparison as I don't think it's possible to have such fresh seafood outside of coastal areas.

We liked the restaurant so much we came back the next day for a light dinner.

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We had our eye on the petit abalone and scallops last time. This time we asked that both dishes be prepared with just ginger and scallions.

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Having finally eaten fresh abalone I'd have to say the meat is a bit tough and the flavor disappointing, but the real star of the show is the broth produced. No wonder abalone is so often used in soups and sauces.

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Question: You're not supposed to eat this part of the abalone, right?

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Steamed scallops with cellophane noodles.

This was our last night on the island so I had to try mantis prawn before we departed. Lancombe was out of stock so we went to one of the big restaurants near the docks -- I don't recall the name.

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Fried mantis prawn. It was rather disappointing as there was very little meat.

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I prefer the side you've shown (Yung Shue Wan), where most of the Lamma residents live, than the other, more commercial side of the island (Sok Kwu Wan). The restaurants over there are obviously geared quite heavily to tourists and the expat professional crowd, are more aggressive in touting for customers as you walk past, and a lot of them are decorated with giant ads for container shipping lines - not the most romantic setting for a meal. Last time I was over there, I was charged extra for the bowl of dipping sauce that was brought with the food. That's just cheap.

The Yung Shue Wan side, though, has a nice variety of restaurants. The non-Chinese food is distinctly patchy, with the exception of the vegetarian restaurant, which is quite dedicated to quality. The Chinese seafood restaurants are a much safer bet. I think you can save a small amount (very small) if you go further along the main street, but I have to disagree with you: the first two, largest restaurants as you come off the ferry are perfectly fine. I actually find them to be better than the others: cleaner, and the higher turnover doesn't hurt. In particular, Sampan (the second restaurant after you come from the pier, with the red colour scheme) has been consistently good over the years. They also serve good dim sum in the earlier part of the day. I can't be bothered with lobster, crab or abalone in Hong Kong. Too expensive, and to my mind, overrated, but steamed prawns with garlic are a great order, as is the steamed fish. It's nice to see your pictures. Takes me back.......

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II can't be bothered with lobster, crab or abalone in Hong Kong. Too expensive, and to my mind, overrated, but steamed prawns with garlic are a great order, as is the steamed fish. It's nice to see your pictures. Takes me back.......

Ditto. Lamma Island is a great place to gear down after a week of pressure doing so-called "international trade work".

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Nice post. Helen and I walked across the Island and enjoyed similar experiences in November. Thanks for the memories :biggrin: I still have cuttlefish stains all over my pants and shoes from a disgruntled cuttlefish that was not in the mood for the wok :rolleyes:

Cheers,

Stephen Bonner

Vancouver

Edited by SBonner (log)

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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Sampan (the second restaurant after you come from the pier, with the red colour scheme).

Ah, this must have been the place we had the mantis prawn.

What seafood is actually native (or relatively close) to the area? I doubt the lobster.

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Sampan (the second restaurant after you come from the pier, with the red colour scheme).

What seafood is actually native (or relatively close) to the area?

These days, less and less. A combination of overfishing, habitat destruction and increasing pollution has made local seafood a rapidly declining commodity, and one that's not very good for you. I spend time on and around the Pearl River (the industrial sewer of the world's economy) and I routinely see local fishing boats working areas that would be laughably unsafe to swim in. Related BBC article here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2276733.stm

When I'm cooking in HK, I more often than not use imported seafood, and some high end (mostly western) restaurants now advertise that they do, too. And don't get me started on the air pollution.

I agree with Ohba about avoiding the well known strip of seafood restaurants at Sok Kwu Wan. Overpriced, full of expat office parties, so-so food. Fun mainly if you're focussed on getting drunk, and the company is paying, and you've never been there before. The 'Rainbow' Restaurant group there has a free boat shuttle from Central and TST, and isn't any worse than any other restaurant there.

In that some area, there is one half decent restaurant just a short walk away, in the next bay over (Mo Tat Wan), called Cococabana. It's sort of Mediterannean themed, and much quieter. Website here: http://toptables.com.hk/cococabana/mainpage.html

Thanks for the report, Kent.

Edit: spelling

Edited by HKDave (log)

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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