Table of Contents
- 0.1 Destination: Hong Kong Food Guide
- 0.2 Mongkok District in Hong Kong
- 0.3 Roast Pork
- 0.4 Dorsett Mongkok
- 0.5 Tim Ho Wan in Mongkok
- 0.6 Chef Congee
- 0.7 The Mother Porridge
- 0.8 IFC Mall
- 0.9 Soho district in Hong Kong
- 1 Brenda’s Travel Guide to Hong Kong
- 2 Dishes to eat in Hong Kong:
- 3 From Kowloon back to the airport:
Destination: Hong Kong Food Guide
I have always been intrigued by Hong Kong. My intrigue is solely based on the films by Director, Wong Kar-wai. After seeing “Days of Being Wild”, “In the Mood for Love” and “2046” (considered to be a trilogy) I was lured by Hong Kong. It took years to materialize, but now that it has, I realize just why this town was so inspirational to the great director. As a sort of homage, I too have segmented my travel experience in Hong Kong to three parts. This first part is inspired by the second film in Mr. Wong’s trilogy, “In the Mood for Love”. I call it Hong Kong: Part 1, The Gentle Side.
Mongkok District in Hong Kong
The marinated pork loin hangs by a hook as to let the fat drip off. It glistens there waiting for someone like me to be intrigued enough to purchase a kilo or two. A woman quickly approaches me from behind where the meat hangs and in her best English asks me, “You want try?” All the while, dismissing all her regulars that are waving money at her, as to speed things along in hopes to get their order in before they rush back to work. “Yes”, I reply.
She takes her clever, puts a few pieces of the beautifully marbled pork on her cutting board, and without asking how much I’d like, starts to slice. I say “no” at first as the amount seemed too much to consume, but my daughter and wife chime in and quickly add to the order. With an almost dry smile toward me, she continues to slice and chop, not only the roasted pork loin but also a bit of duck and roasted crispy pig. This is the scene we have gotten accustomed to during our stay in the Mongkok district on the Kowloon Peninsula.
We forego staying in Hong Kong Central and book a room at a boutique hotel named, The Dorsett. Outside the hotel doors are what many consider the last vestiges of old Hong Kong. Where one can still spend a few minutes negotiating with a lady that butchers meat for a living. [Tweet “We forego staying in Hong Kong Central and book a room at a boutique hotel named, The Dorsett.”] Jowie, a young woman, making her place in the hospitality quarter that is forever growing in this town, speaks in that sort of English that seems to be exclusive to educated Hong Kongese. There is a sophisticated inflection in her voice that makes one want to, themselves, be a bit more proper in the way they speak.
We meet at the hotel restaurant for a meeting of sorts. Shortly after we sit, businessmen with suits begin to filter in, taking tables near where we are seated. It’s a hot day in Hong Kong and they don’t seem to be minding it a bit, with their shirts nicely pressed, their slim lapeled suits well tailored, and not one tie loosened. I’m not one for imperialism, but admittedly I’m a bit enamored by the somewhat colonial vibe unfolding in front of me.
1960’s Hong Kong
To some degree I felt as if the time was set in 1960’s Hong Kong and at any minute the men in front of me will be tripping all over each other as they stand up in formality to receive a beautiful woman to their table. In my head, this woman is of course wearing a cheongsam and played by Maggie Cheung. “Yes, this hotel is very popular for businessmen”, Jowie points out, as she averts my eyes back into the conversation. I ask her for insider suggestions. She tells me that we cannot miss what is considered the cheapest Michelin Star restaurant in the world, Tim Ho Wan. Not so much insider, but it must be pointed out as a not to be missed.
Tim Ho Wan’s exterior is not impressive, nor is the interior. Like most casual eateries in Hong Kong, there are no napkins. So, if you are ever in Hong Kong and you decide you want to eat in less formal environments like this, and I highly suggest you do, bring your own napkins. After a few encounters with this, we had smartened up and have coffee at Starbucks in the mornings, where there are napkins in abundance and stocked up for the day of eating. The service in Tim Ho Wan is almost non-existent.
However, when the food starts to arrive, and we start tasting, we understand right away, that the Michelin Star this place received was based strictly on the food (dim sum) it serves. In some way, this is more impressive than most, as it doesn’t rely on any other factors in receiving its rating. Talking about leveraging itself. Is it a must? I say, yes! (Refer to Brenda’s guide for recommended dishes).
Jowie and I begin to become more colloquial in our conversation as we discuss travel, food, and family. She continues on her list of favorite destinations around the area, and she starts to acknowledge the fact that when I speak of destinations, I mean food. She at this point, discloses her favorite place in the neighborhood. It’s a place that specializes in congee (rice porridge) appropriately named Chef Congee.
An old Cantonese man stands outside, with a slow dragging cigarette in his mouth half waving us in. Unsure if we were in the correct place, we hesitantly walk in. I go back out to match the picture Jowie printed out for me as the signage was in Chinese character. I give the girls a thumbs up. We realize that the man waving us in was not connected to the business, but a customer that was in a rush to get a seat. Before sitting, we focus in other patrons’ bowls, and we realize immediately that this place is special.
The Mother Porridge
Chef Congee quickly becomes Bailey’s favorite place to have breakfast. She enjoys all the accouterments that go with congee versus the congee itself, and there are many. She’s partial to the deep fried crullers wrapped in rice crepe. Brenda and I, who consider ourselves to be a bit of congee aficionados agree that the minced beef with an egg is the best we have ever tasted.
When you enter, there are two women at the back of the counter, that watch over a caldron of piping hot white rice porridge. This has got to be a mother porridge (similar to a mother broth, in which remnants of the original batch still exists within the vat) hence the reason for the flavors being so complex for something so simple. Brenda puts her spoon toward the bottom of her bowl and breaks the orange yoke. The colors mix almost as beautifully as it tastes. I nod over to the man that waved us in, and he smiles knowing that we are enjoying what it is that he rushed in for.
We meet Brenda’s long time friend, Wendell, who also happens to be my cousin. Ironically, Brenda didn’t meet Wendell through me, rather I through her. I’m glad I did. He’s a good cousin. He’s a good friend. He has been living in Hong Kong these past 6 years and knows the town well. We meet him on Hong Kong island, and due to it being our first full day, he takes it easy on us. He makes sure we stay cool for the first part and brings us through the IFC Mall, which is not too much of a departure from our old lives. The mall is filled with the luxury goods houses we have grown accustomed to on Madison and 5th Avenues.
It has great air-conditioning and has the most impressive bathroom service I have ever experienced in a public place, or any for that matter. The bathrooms in Hong Kong are spectacular, I got the first feel for it when I arrived at the airport, but the one’s in the mall are worth an honorable mention. Let’s just say that you know you can trust the hygiene, when the attendant in charge of the room is proud enough to have his name and picture posted on the entrance of the bathroom.
Soho district in Hong Kong
Wendell takes us up the street escalators, through SoHo, where we visit the impressive Man Mo Temple. The smoke that emanates from the house of worship is intense. We smell the incense from the street level, which is welcomed as Brenda and Bailey have an aversion to mosquitoes. Equally as impressive is the facade, which has been there since 1847 and has endured the winds of change, appropriately so, as “Mo” is the god of war. It appropriately inspires as well, “Man” being the god of literature. We walk down the road a bit, get a few cold beers in us and continue on our trek up and down the slopes of town.
Getting late and the girls a bit jet-lag, Wendell knows exactly the remedy. He takes us to a Ramen House called, Butao. Bailey orders a traditional Tonkatsu Ramen, in which the broth so impressed Bailey that she deems it the best Ramen she’s had. Brenda and I share both a Pesto Ramen and a Black Squid Ink Ramen. It’s all the flavors that are expected from the Italian pasta counterpart, along with the “umami” that Japanese food is so known for.
Little Chinese Cakes
Night comes fast upon us, we have sweets from a street cart that specializes in little Chinese Cakes (akin to waffles, just shaped in little balls) and take a wonderful red cab, with automatic doors, home. It takes a bit of getting used to, having the doors opened for you with a spring mechanism (it scares Brenda at first) and finding the driver on the right side of the car. I am quickly reminded that the British were here and are still to some degree. [Tweet “I sit back, sated from a long day of spending time with my family, a friend, eating and drinking and taking in Hong Kong.”] I sit back, sated from a long day of spending time with my family, a friend, eating and drinking and taking in Hong Kong. We get out of the car, the doormen at the hotel open the door for us, and right before I enter, I look back to make sure I get my bearings straight for tomorrow morning so I can find my lady again slicing and chopping away.
We received a media rate during our stay, but all opinions, as always are our own.
Brenda’s Travel Guide to Hong Kong
Getting to Hong Kong from NYC:
We highly recommend Cathay Airways for one reason; the food is not awful and they have unlimited servings of cup o’ noodles. It’s not healthy, I know, but it keeps Bailey and Andrew very happy for the 14 hour flight. We also absolutely loved the entertainment on board and the staff were all so helpful. The seats are still a bit small and leg room super tight, which is why I would recommend frequent walks up and down the aisles and to wear compression socks.
Getting to the town center from the airport:
Once you land, make sure to grab a free cart for your luggage because you can take it all the way to the Airport Express. The Hong Kong International Airport is a very convenient and efficient airport. Once we landed, the first thing we saw was a booth for Airport Express, which my brother-in-law told me about and he was right. It’s simply the best way to get into town because it’s fast and happens to be cheap at 70 HK$ for adults and 45 HK$ for kids (which is about $9.05 per adult and $5.80 USD) to Kowloon, which is where our hotel was. Once we got out, we found a Citibank ATM right away. The best exchange rate is to withdraw cash and not go to a currency exchange. Once we got a bit of cash, we followed very clear signs to the Airport Express.
Where to stay in Hong Kong:
Our stop was Kowloon which is where our hotel was located, from there we took a short taxi ride to the Dorsett Mongkok at 88 Tai Kok Tsui Road Kowloon Hong Kong. We chose the Dorsett because it’s a more off the beaten path location. Where more of the locals actually live. We love hotels, this one is a boutique hotel which is great. It’s got more personal service and was convenient to public transportation. We also loved that the Dorsett Mongkok provided us with a phone with free calls and data during our whole stay, which came in very handy while calling our friend to meet up. It was also very convenient to have for google maps when we got lost (all for free). 3 of the 5 nights we were there, we used the gym, which was great because we ate way too much.
Types of Transportation we used in Hong Kong:
Hong Kong’s MTR (Mass Transit Railway) is the most convenient way to get around Hong Kong. It’s clean, convenient and efficient. They have easy to read maps and directions and all the transit workers are extremely helpful. From the Dorsett Mongkok Hotel, the best stop was Olympic Towers.
We, on very few occasions used taxis as well, which was convenient on late nights.
Dishes to eat in Hong Kong:
Tim Ho Wan
There are several locations but we went to the one close to us. Go early. We went at 10 am and there was no line. Our favorite dishes were sticky rice and the rice vermicelli.
Shop 72, G/F
Olympian City 2
18 Hoi Ting Road
Tai Kok Tsui
Olympian City Mall
Chef Congee on Tai Kok Tsui
This place was right on the street perpendicular to the Dorsett Mongkok. It is a great place for breakfast. We went there almost every day. Bailey’s favorite is the fried cruller with white noodle. Our favorite congees were: congee with chopped beef & egg. Also loved the congee with lettuce corn and abalone.
Butao Ramen in Causeway Bay
Wendell’s favorite ramen house in Hong Kong is Butao Ramen and Bailey agrees that it is excellent. Our favorite ramen was the squid ink. Bailey’s favorite is the Butao ramen.
69 Wellington St, Central, Hong Kong
Roast meat lady
From the Dorsett just cross the street and make a left. She is the first roast meat stand. Have no idea what the place is called. Our favorite was the roast pig here.
He was at a corner near Butao Ramen in Causeway Bay.
Ura Japanese Delicacy
A hidden treasure. A very special restaurant in Hong Kong. One must experience this joint at least once.
2F The Wellington, No.198 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, China
Phone Number: 852-21119381
Macanese restaurant. You must get the curry and the stir fried instant noodles.
Shop 270-273, 2/F Shun Tak Centre
Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein
Get the Short Rib, enough meat for 3 adults and a child. We also liked the potatoes with egg very much.
Intercontinental in Hong Kong
Intercontinental is located on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong and is a great place to have drinks and snacks while looking at the skyline.
- 18 Salisbury Road
- Hong Kong
- Front Desk +852-2721-1211
From Kowloon back to the airport:
There is a great service that the MTR provides in Kowloon, which Wendell and April, our local friends tipped us off about. Our hotel, Dorsett Mongkok Hotel, has a free shuttle to the Kowloon MTR stop and at the MTR stop, there are airline counters lined up where you can check in your luggage. At the Kowloon station, there are also plenty of luggage carts. There was basically nobody in that station checking in, it was the smoothest, quickest check-in we’ve ever experienced.
After we checked-in we jump right into the MTR towards the airport with no check-in luggage, just our small backpacks. When we arrived at the actual airport, we saw HUGE line to check-in while we just casually strolled in. So, definitely go to Kowloon to check-in, well worth your time.
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