I’ve been back a while now, so this is the last of my Hong Kong posts.
I didn’t really eat much more than street food in Hong Kong, but there were a few noteworthy meals fitted in there. The first was the dim sum meal I mentioned in an earlier post, but there were two others.
My best proper Chinese meal was with my very multi-coloured friend PD, who took me to one of the few places in Hong Kong with lines. We went to Crystal Jade Xia Long Bao in the rather swanky IFC mall at the bottom of Hong Kong’s tallest building. This is the same Crystal Jade that fed me dumplings right off the boat (plane) but now, under PD’s watchful, paternal eye, it was going to be the full deal.
Some rapid-fire ordering later, food started landing up. Barbecued pork in a spicy noodle came first, a flavourful clear broth loaded with spice in which floated a generous helping of noodles and slices of meltingly fantastic, slightly sweet barbecued pork. Alongside were some sauce-tossed wontons and, of course, the signature Xia Long Bao.
Xia Long Bao is apparently a bao (bread) rather than a dumpling (but do you really care). The soup inside is actually frozen aspic that melts during the steaming. Originally from Shanghai, its apparently quite a popular dim sum in Hong Kong. Eating it takes a little practice to avoid burning your tongue or splattering your face with hot soup.
We weren’t done yet. Dish four was approximately a scrambled egg white with our old friend conpoy. Dish five was beans with ground pork. Both were delicious in a comfort-food way, and both looked like they would be simple to replicate.
Finally we were at the last two dishes. Six was a load of cabbage covering some fairly tasty beef balls, while nine was the dry version of that barbecued pork. I must say, though the dry version was quite good, I prefer the version in the soup.
Of course, Crystal Jade turned out to be a Singapore company reputated for Shanghai dumplings but it was nevertheless a very good – and sometimes outstanding - Chinese meal.
The last meal worth mentioning was an accidental one. Before landing up I had read about the Dai Pai Dongs of Hong Kong, famous for their wok-tossed food made over high heat. These stalls serve various kinds of stir fry, loaded with burnt bits and a smoky taste from both the style of cooking and the very high temperatures used. The la mein, in particular was very popular. Originally outdoor roadside eateries, they are apparently no longer as common.
I was wandering somewhat aimlessly through the streets of Wan Chai, along what the road signs said were Lockhart Road, when I came across a board saying “wet market”. A somewhat rickety government-looking building housed a wet market inside (one floor of which was, bizarrely, full of tailors instead of the vegetable stalls the signs insisted on). The top floor was a food court, but unlike the other places I’d seen with photogallery menus, this one had only chinese text. Not a single picture, and no sign of any English either.
A bit of sign language later, however, a plate of thin, dark brown noodles loaded with pork bits and smoky flavour landed up. The flavours are indescribable – nice chewy noodles loaded with burnt bits and chewy bits of fried pork – a smokiness from the high-temperatures the oil was subjected to, this was an amazingly tasty dish.