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Archive for the ‘Tsim Sha Tsui’ Category

Last weekend, W, J, and I indulged our Chinese sides by visiting a Beijing/Shanghainese restaurant and ordering all our favorites from childhood. I found Wei Yi on the internet and after I saw the stuffed Chinese pancakes (北京餡餅), which is one of my favorite foods EVER in the whole wide world, I had to try it.

Right, so W and I arrived at this little place on Hau Fook Street just before noon. The little street is just off of Cameron Road in TST, and is lined with many little restaurants, mostly of Asian persausion. There are giant green signs outside with the most mouth-watering photos of all sorts of Northern Chinese goodies. Don’t worry if your Chinese hasn’t moved beyond “mm goi!”; there are pictures of menu items all along the interior AND an English menu.

Outside the Temple of Heaven. I mean, Wei Yi Noodles.

Photos to help the Chinese-challenged (myself included!). Note: My favorite dish on the menu is in the second row, on the right.

Before J even got there, W and I had scoured the menu, salivating, and ordered the following: One Beijing stuffed pancake (北京餡餅), one hot and sour soup (酸辣湯), one onion pancake (蔥油餅), a bowl of preserved vegetable and pork noodles (雪菜肉絲麵), one bowl of plain soup dumplings (净水饺), two soybean milks (豆漿) for J and I, and one salty soybean milk/soup (咸豆漿) for W. Perhaps it was ridiculous for three girls to split as much as we did, but perhaps it was just the much-needed fulfillment of a long-term craving.

Anyways, the salty soybean milk/soup came first (I call it soup because…well, see the photo below). I must admit I was too scared to try it, but W said it was high-quality; apparently, salty soybean milk should curdle if it’s good. Both W and J mentioned it’s easier to determine the properties of good soybean milk from the salty kind than its sweet counterpart.

A photo of J and my cold (sweet) soy milk is also below. I was very satisfied with how it brought me back 20 years to my times as a wee one in China. Wei Yi makes all of their soy milk on their premises, too, so you know it’s fresh.

W's guilty pleasure at Wei Yi

Soy dream, eat your heart out

Afterwards the bings came out with a vengeance! The green onion pancakes (蔥油餅) were a bit bland in my opinion (I would have preferred a bit more salt), but I loved the texture of the pancake. The outer layers were crispy while the inner parts were soft and moist. There was a nice proportion of green onion to flour.

This is my bing-bing

Afterwards was the stuffed pancake. It was plump and toothsome, oozing a bit of soy sauce and vinegar from the filling. All three of us said “MMMMMMMM” after biting into our pieces, appreciating the savory, juicy beef-and-chive filling.

Have I mentioned this is one of my favorite. dishes. in. the. world?! Great to finally find it in HK!

"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille"

The hot and sour soup came next, and while it was chock-full of mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and all the good stuff for a really dense soup, the spiciness of the dish overwhelmed the vinegary, sour flavor. Out of the dishes we ordered, it was actually my least favorite.

A bit too "hot" and not enough "sour"

The last two dishes were absolutely delicious; I would order them again in a heartbeat. The preserved vegetable with pork sounds a bit strange in English (I mean, old bodies and prunes are the only things that should be preserved, right?), but the saltiness from the preserved vegetables flavored the soup nicely. Aside from the broth, I also liked the consistency of the noodles – they had great “chew power” or jiao ji-er, like hand-pulled, homemade noodles. Once we slowed down with our binge eating, I was worried the noodles would get soggy in the soup; however, they held up perfectly.

You need these noodles

J was obsessed with the plain dumplings in soup. It was the same broth as the noodles, though the taste was lighter as there were no preserved vegetables or additional meat to season the soup. The wrap-to-filling ratio of the dumpling was a bit heavy in the former department, but as I like chewy wrap, I can’t complain too much. The filling was pork and chives, and it was so smooth, prompting W, J, and I to lament the one time we all tried to make dumplings to no avail (our homemade filling was tough and, as W described it, “healthy-tasting”). In any case, the filling also had the soy sauce and vinegar mixture found in the stuffed pancake, which flavored it nicely.

They may have been called plain, but these dumplings were all sorts of amazing

When the bill came, there was even more to cheer about. After ordering five dishes and three drinks, our bill came to about $45 HKD/person. Awesome.

I really, really like this restaurant and, to be frank, W, G, P and I went back four days later to eat even more! If you’re a fan of northern food, I’d definitely recommend giving this place a whirl – just don’t be surprised if you find yourself craving it over and over.

Wei Yi Noodles (Despite its Chinese name, meaning “only one,” there are outposts in Sham Shui Po, Sha Tin, and other locations)
10 Hau Fook Street
2311 1498
Cost: ~$50 HKD/person

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P always makes fun of me for my inability to make decisions. Often before we go out to eat, I research multiple websites to find one great restaurant. My indecisive tendencies have probably cumulatively delayed our meals somewhere around 12.3 hours over the course of a year. Thus, he made me promise that one day I’d just go with the flow and walk into any old restaurant without any prior research whatsoever.

I guess that day was yesterday…and I kind of did it. Basically, P and I tried out a new restaurant with A and P (not the grocery) that they had discovered in TST. A and P said they were walking in TST one night when they were approached by one of the many South Asian salespeople in the area; he led them into the Mughal Club, a wonderful Halal Indian restaurant you might otherwise never find by yourself. Giving directions to the restaurant sounds like something from a scavenger hunt: It’s located in Haiphong Mansion, which has an address on Nathan Road. Forget that – enter through Haiphong Road (I believe the exact number is 53-55 Haiphong Road). Then take the elevators to the second floor. When you get off the elevator, turn right immediately. It’s the first door you encounter.

Anyways, when we walked in, it looked like any run-of-the-mill Indian place you might find in Chungking Mansions – kind of a hole in the wall. But man, the food was good! We ordered four dishes: Butter chicken, palak paneer, chicken tikka masala, and baingan bharta, an eggplant dish I’d never had before. My favorites were the chicken tikka masala (sorry for the fuzzy pic!) and the palak paneer. I loved that the chicken definitely had a kick to it! There was no holding back on the heat, as is so often done when Indian restaurants try to cater to HK palates. This was full-on, authentic spice! I also loved how I’d get a hit of cilantro every so often.

Chicken tikka masala, how I love thee!

The palak paneer was also awesome because, as you can see, the spinach really was the star. In a lot of restaurants where I’ve had this, the spinach is darker and seems to lose some of its spinach-y flavor. This palak paneer was green and lovely. I could taste the vegetable with every bite.

The colorful palak paneer

I was really surprised at how undiscovered Mughal Club is. We went on a Saturday night and besides us, there were only two tables, both occupied by South Asian families (we all took this as a good sign). I’d definitely urge all Indian food aficionados to try this place out – the food is worth the challenge of finding it! Also, if you get a Mughal Club card, it’s 10% off your total bill (which was already amazingly cheap for us – we ordered the four dishes, drinks, three types of naan and two rotis for under $100 each).

Spread the word, friends, spread the word.

Mughal Club
2/F, Haiphong Mansion, 53-55 Haiphong Road
Cost: ~ $70/person

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Saturday P and C/G finally met, after me talking to both of them about the other for a year! C/G also brought along his friend Z, whom I had been hearing about for a year but never met; therefore, lunch was a must-needed introduction.

Anyways, for our rendezvous we were looking for a good, reasonably priced eatery in TST. After some searching, we decided on Good Satay, which I had seen many times on OpenRice with its 300+ smiley faces, but never visited. It’s kind of tucked away in a mall called the Houston Centre; I think the closest MTR exit is East TST P2.

For the four of us, we ordered the mee goreng (fried noodles), hainan chicken rice (half chicken), beef bagus (sauteed beef) and a beef brisket curry. We also got two orders of mixed satay (one order has six skewers; your choice of beef, chicken, or pork). The favorites were definitely the mee goreng and chicken rice! The latter was really close to what I’ve eaten in Singapore (though not quite on the level of the Maxwell Hawker Centre, but still quite good); I wish there was a little more ginger seasoning with the chicken, but overall, very yummy. The mee goreng was also savory. Highly recommended. The brisket curry had some really soft potato pieces in it that made me smack my lips in happiness. I didn’t think the meat was anything to write home about, though. My least favorite was the beef bagus, due to a really overpowering taste – prawn sauce, maybe? In any case, I’ll probably give it a pass next time. The eponymous satay was nice, too, with substantial skewers of meat and good peanut sauce.

We came for lunch so there was no difficulty getting a seat. Z said she came for dinner before and there was a long line of people waiting outside. Totally worth it, but try to book if you go in the evenings!

Good Satay
Shop 144-148, Houston Centre
63 Mody Square
2739 9808
Cost: ~ $80 HKD/person

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I’ve recently eaten at some newly-opened restaurants and already, one is to my heart what Joey McIntyre was to thousands of side-ponytail-wearing teens. Here’s the report…

ZELO

Hello Zelo!

Last Thursday I walked through Pacific Place in Admiralty and noticed the scaffolding that took up a fourth of the LG level was finally cleared. In its place was the charming, whimsically-decorated Zelo. A sign in front told me it specialized in Meditteranean fare and was newly-opened. I made a mental note to investigate further.

Some research online revealed Zelo just opened on December 10, and while I couldn’t find any reviews, I did read that chef Ryan Crawford did apprenticeships at “it” eateries Chicane and Tonic in Sydney. Apparently he also did an 18-month stint at Nobu, London. Armed with that information, I made a booking with relative peace of mind.

J and I went for lunch on Sunday. We arrived at 12:30 and seats were plentiful, but the place quickly filled up in the next half hour. On the way to our table, we hungrily ogled a beautiful salad spread and wondered exactly how we could get our hands on it. The answer was soon apparent: The set lunch included a main, tea or coffee, and a choice of appetizers including the starter buffet.

A beautiful start(er buffet)

J and I attacked that buffet like we hadn’t eaten for a week (which was ironic, because after the meal at BLT Burger, below, we thought we’d never eat again). There was an amazing orecchiette pasta salad with tomatoes, capers, olives, and what J thought was an anchovy-based dressing (which stopped me in my tracks for about two seconds before the deliciousness of the pasta salad called me back); also on offer were plates of cured meats including salami, pepperoni, and proscuitto (and cantaloupe was on hand, just waiting to be hugged by those thin shavings); walnuts, caesar salad, potato salad, tomato slices topped with mozzerella and basil, and assorted cold vegetables tossed in olive oil. That starter buffet alone was worth the price of lunch; between the top-notch ingredients and the thoughtful pairings and preparation of those ingredients, Zelo immediately rocketed to a high standing on my list of favorite restaurants.

Grilled chicken with vegetables and potatoes

After a promising starter, our mains came. J ordered penne arrabiata, which only got a “so-so” from both of us: the sauce had a lot of kick, which was nice, but it wasn’t anything to write home about. My grilled chicken with vegetables and potatoes were far more impressive. The chicken breast was wonderfully smoky, covered in a balsamic reduction that was latticed over the meat. The potatoes were like oven fries, crispy around the edges and soft on the inside.

We were too full for dessert, so instead we had our tea. The tea came out with a small assortment of biscotti and lemon cookies – the perfect ending to a wonderful meal. I will definitely return. See you soon, starter buffet!

Zelo
007, LG, Pacific Place Mall
2918 1028
Cost: ~ $240/person (For lunch. And for all my raving about the starter buffet, you should know you can just get the buffet with coffee or tea for $168/person, plus 10% service charge.)

BLT BURGER

J, C, and I visited this little brother of BLT Steak on Saturday night in honor of the boys’ birthdays. We arrived around 6:45 and were pleased the queue of this uber-popular place wasn’t 1,000 people long, as C had feared when he recalled seeing this restaurant last weekend. After a five-minute wait during which we started perusing the menu, we were seated.

BLT Burger has all the dishes a homesick American would love: burgers, milkshakes, and oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies. There are also combos: you can get a classic burger, fries, and your choice of beverage. The only complaint about the menu is its inflexibility: When we asked our waiter if we could pay extra and substitute one of the specialty burgers on the menu in the combo, he replied, “We follow the American style and have these combos, but you can only get the classic burger,” to which I replied with a pout, “That’s not how we do it in America!”

Burgers, waffle fries, and milkshakes - what more do you need?

Nevertheless, J and C both ordered the combos, with vanilla and chocolate shakes respectively. I got the Tex-Mex burger which had avocado, jack cheese, chili, and onion sour cream, among other things. We each got waffle fries, and the BBQ Nachos to split. The Nachos were decent; the meat was like the pulled pork back home, though we all agreed the plate could do with more filling in general. The burgers were monstrous! Though mine was scrumptious, I only managed to eat the better part of a half, and the boys were struggling after putting away their seven ounces of beef. However, the USDA Certified Black Angus beef was juicy and delish, so they fought through.

Mmmm brownies!

Again, we were too full for dessert (why do we always do this to ourselves?) but I couldn’t pass up the Bittersweet Chocolate Brownie a la mode. Covered in powdered sugar with a scoop of ice cream underneath caramel, fudge, and pecans, it was everything I dreamed of. And maybe the manager heard us say, “birthday,” because we mysteriously received a slice of cheesecake topped with the most luscious raspberries, on the house! A smooth finish to our birthday celebration. All in all, a bit overpriced for burgers (though I believe that’s par for the course in HK), but a nice place anytime you need an “American” fix.

BLT Burger
Shop 301, Level 3, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City
2730 2338 (they don’t take reservations – at least, not for Saturday nights)
Cost: ~ $220 HKD/person

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Steakout

Last Monday, J and I, in the euphoria of having been recently paid, decided to try BLT Steak in TST. It’s a restaurant I’ve noticed many times, just outside of Ocean Terminal, opposite the Star Ferry pier, with a sizable patio facing the water. Due to our schedules, we had to have an early dinner and when we arrived at 5:30, the place was fairly empty (though when we left around 7, it was slightly crowded). On weekdays, it seems happy hour goes until 6 and there’s a buy-one-get-one deal on wine and beer (however, you can’t buy one and have your friend get one; each person gets two drinks for the price of one).

Dinner and an education

Dinner and an education

J and I pored over the menu, an extensive collection of salads, small plates, hearty sides, and an absolute parade of steaks. I picked my dinner companion for a reason – he’d been to no less than three steakhouses the final month he was in the States, perfect for a steak newbie like me! My bovine education was also enhanced by the comprehensive diagram of a cow, surrounded by callouts of cuts and cooking methods, on the back of the menu (this was quite amusing to me). In the end, we decided on a 12 oz. Australian ribeye, paired with jalapeño mashed potatoes and tomato pomodoro gnocchi, all preceded by a pear salad.

Pop it like it's hot

Pop it like it's hot

Before anything came out, the waiter brought us a salmon carpaccio-esque dish, compliments of the chef. J, knowing full well my aversion to sea creatures, took one look at me and said, “You’re eating this.” My reply was, “Oh, I know.” The salmon was tender, seasoned with a bit of fresh basil, and topped with sunflower seeds for a nice contrast in texture. I was pleased. Then, another free goodie appeared on our table – popovers. When reading the Openrice reviews for this place, I made out, in my piecemeal Chinese, that popovers were cited as the “favorite dish” of many. I had no idea what they were, but when they came out – two doughy puffs reminiscent of giant mushrooms – I didn’t care. They looked delicious. A little recipe that came with the popovers revealed they’re made of milk, eggs, flour, salt and gruyere cheese, which apparently yields pure pastry heaven. Perfect when paired with butter and sea salt.

Our actual order was pleasing as well. The pear salad was a great mix of sweet and savory, the cloyingness of the pear (and raspberry vinagerette?) offset by crisp bacon and grated parmesan. The steak was juicy, medium rare as we ordered, and the filet mignon was bursting with flavor. The gnocchi was topped with a small avalanche of grated parmesan cheese, which only made it better, and the jalapeño mashed potatoes was an inspired twist on an old favorite (not too spicy, either). J and I had our eye on a chocolate peanut butter parfait for dessert, but we were schooled by the meal. Next time!

BLT Steak
Shop G62, Ground Floor, Ocean Terminal, TST
2730 3508
Cost: ~ $350 HKD/person (including drinks)

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Last weekend I sort of had a “friend mixer”/Korean BBQ dinner when I brought together six friends from different corners of my life. The venue was Korea Kam Sing Restaurant in TST. According to HK food bible OpenRice, it’s one of the top-rated Korean restaurants in the district. We made a booking, as we were a party of seven on a Saturday night.

The restaurant itself looks small when you enter, but has a fair number of tables once you climb up a narrow staircase. We settled in and ordered an embarrassment of food: four portions of meat for BBQ (two pork and two beef), kimchi pancakes, soup dumplings, bibimbop (Korean stone pot rice), and fried ricecakes. This was on top of the eight or nine little appetizer plates that came free with our meal (glass noodles, tofu, kimchi, etc). We decided to wash it all down with Hite beer and soju.

Hite beer with some of our complimentary small plates

Taking Korean to new Hite(s)

The kimchi pancakes were a hit, with a just-salty-enough soy sauce. I found the pancakes to be significantly less sour than the ones I’ve tried before, meaning they didn’t incorporate as much kimchi “juice”. Personally, I liked this Kam Sing version better.

The pork was also amazing, smothered in satay-like sauce and wrapped in lettuce leaves. One important lesson I learned from G, who lived in Korea, was to put the pork in your mouth first, then take a sip of soju, as it cuts the grease.

We literally ate non-stop with little chatter. However, at one point, G did pause to say, “Can we eat here every night?”

Korea Kam Sing Restaurant
G/F, 5 Humphreys Ave., Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
2311 8636
Cost: ~ $150 HKD/person (including drinks)

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