Today is a catch-up day. I realized in embarrassment that I haven’t posted anything since late April! The last few months passed in a flurry of travel, but fortunately, the travel included some really good food. But first, here is a Hong Kong-based post featuring one of my favorite foods of all time: Dumplings.
In late April, my friend A and I had a long-overdue reunion. She invited me to watch her boyfriend P play volleyball for the South China Athletic Association. Every week they faced a different opponent in a different locale and that given week, they were playing in Sham Shui Po. Of course, I’m never in Sham Shui Po so I promptly went online for lunch ideas. I stumbled upon a promising restaurant called (simply) Shandong Dumpling Restaurant, named after a Chinese province. The place was conveniently located near the MTR station.
The menu has a long list of dumplings and wontons, along with typical “northern dishes” including cold Chinese salads and some hot stir-fries. It seemed like all the dumplings could be served in noodles with soup as well. In the end we ordered the shredded chicken salad, and three types of dumplings: beef (A’s favorite), pork and chives (my favorite), and – a new one for me – fennel and pork (P’s favorite).
The dumplings came ten to a plate, all plump and steamy in their carb-and-protein glory. I bit into my first one – pork and chives – and was extremely impressed. First, the filling was actually well-seasoned; I can’t even begin to count how many Hong Kong dumplings I’ve tasted with ultra-bland filling. Second – the crucial element that jumped this unassuming Sham Shui Po joint to my favorite dumpling place in HK – the wrap was carefully crafted to produce a delightfully chewy, full-of-springback texture. In Mandarin, we might say it has good jiao ji-er, or literally “chew power”. The skin was thick enough to really add some substance to the dumpling, so it wasn’t just an overbearing meat dish, but truly, a dish with meat and dough. These dumplings received the highest compliment from me, that being: They tasted just like the way we make them at home.
The highlight of my meal, though, were the fennel and pork dumplings. I’d seen this on many dumpling menus before, particularly the one at my all-time favorite dumpling place in the world, Beijing’s Tianjin Bai Jiao Yuan. It’s called hui xiang (茴香) in Mandarin, and I’d never known the English translation. Anyways, it’s fennel, and it’s awesome in dumplings. It gives the filling a bit of dill-like flavor. It’s a strong taste, and definitely not for the weak-of-taste-buds. But for those willing to try a new thing, you may be very pleasantly surprised. I think it gives the filling a bit more kick.
I will add, also, that the dumplings here were definitely better than the cold salads. The shredded chicken salad, while good combined with the cucumbers and peanut sauce it was served with, was not great and I probably wouldn’t order it again. The dumplings though – oh man the dumplings! I wish I lived closer to this place; I’d be eating there all the time (especially with the reasonable prices). I did notice, however, that you can order frozen dumplings to go – next time I’m in the neighborhood, perhaps?
Note: The place seemed to only have a Chinese menu. Therefore, it’d be smart to visit with your Chinese-reading friends. Or at least the ones who are proficient enough in food vocab!
山東餃子館 (Shandong Jiaozi Guan)
G/F, 81C Un Chau Street
Cost: ~ $25-30 HKD/person