May 11

Hong Kong

There is one flight daily from Jinan to >>> Hong Kong and it only takes a couple of hours. However, we had delays for some odd reasons and arrived an hour later than scheduled. It seemed as if we had spent the entire day to take a 2 hour flight. From the airport in HK, to city center takes about an hour on the train. Directions to the hotel were not the best and the city layout seems a bit confusing. People were friendly when asked directions but the difference between Cantonese and Mandarin seemed to make communication difficult for Echo.

A view of the HK skyline as seen from the top of the Peak. The view is spectacular, but the place is very commercial with a shopping mall to Starbucks, McD’s and even a Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Shack.

Cost of HK real estate has skyrocketed in recent years. It’s population density is mainly due to the geography. An island of volcanic rock jutting up out of the South China Sea. It sits just inside the Tropic of Cancer, lush vegetation blankets the island with the hush of a forest. Every square inch of land is in use and much of the newer real estate is actually built on land-fill. However, the terrain is so steep in some areas it makes building virtually impossible. The only way to grow is vertically.

Hong Kong is recognized as a hub of international commerce because of its low tax rate.

 

 

Due to my culinary background I have wanted to visit and explore the food scene of Hong Kong for quite some time. HK is recognized as a food capital much like Paris or New York.

With more than 6,000 restaurants to choose from I was not disappointed.

In Hong Kong visitors can choose, American Diner style food for breakfast, as we did at a place called The Flying Pan. They are open 24 hours and serve a wide selection of breakfast items. Food was great. Portions were ample. Price was reasonable. I didn’t get the joke until I was actually sitting down and reading the menu. Then it came to me. Many Asians have trouble pronouncing their L’s and their R’s…so, frying pan comes out sounding like flying pan! haha.

More funny though was the fact that an Asian looking waitress didn’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese. When Echo tried to order in Mandarin, the young woman replied in English she didn’t understand. Most of the staff at the hotel were fluent in English and Mandarin. Some taxi drivers speak English as well.

 

The rest of the day was a bit rainy and we didn’t get much done. I had scheduled a tour with William Banzai, but asked to push it to Friday to avoid the nasty weather.

In the evening we met with one of Echo’s business contacts who invited us to have dinner with her family at a well known Cantonese place called, Tai Woo. The staff were efficient and the food was very good! We had a whole snapper chosen from the live tank, clams, veggies, a house specialty called 3 Phase Beef Brisket. One of the owners made a point of stopping by our table to explain the process of making this dish; First the brisket is braised to tenderize, then fried to crisp the outside and finally steamed with a special proprietary blend of spices. The brisket is then chilled, pressed and sliced very thin for service. It was very tasty! Unfortunately, this was another one of those times when the eating and talking about food prevented me from taking any pictures of the food. It is a pity because the presentation of these dishes is always a high point of the meal.

Bill agreed to postpone our tour to Friday when the weather was forecast to be a little nicer. To kick-off the tour we took a quick ferry ride across the bay to Kowloon and did an interesting tour of Nan Lian Garden. The ferry took about 15 minutes and then a brief bus ride up the hill a bit.

This garden sits on Diamond Hill amidst the city business district, but is designed in such a way as to buffer all noise from outside. The design is based on the Tang Dynasty traditional Chinese landscape style. It incorporates several water features such as a lotus pond and two waterfalls. The Nan Lian Garden is connected to Chi Lin Nunnery and they operate a restaurant where we stopped for lunch and had 3 exquisite vegetarian dishes. Vegetarian restaurants are abundant in HK.

From inside the restaurant looking out through one of the waterfalls.

 

 

This dish was called 5 Fortunes. Beets in the center, bean noodles at the top, pickled baby luffa squash at the bottom, mushrooms and I forgot what the fifth one was.

This was a very unique dish. Sweet potato, chunks of roasted ginger and peanuts in a rich and savory sauce. Really delicious vegetarian food.

The three of us shared these three dishes and were satisfied with our portions.

 

 

 

We spent an informative few hours learning about the modern development of Hong Kong. Bill is well read on the history of the region. The pace was relaxing and the highlight of the day was our shared lunch, because the food was so unique and delicious and the setting was spectacular.

HK’s transit system runs smoothly and is affordable. There is really no need for a car if you live in the city. High population density is cause for a bit claustrophobia for me though. It is not my preference to reside in any area with dense population and an ever growing number of skyscrapers, but HK is a nice place to visit.

 

Our trusty guide, Bill Bansai.

After we parted ways we took Bill’s recommendation to try Under the Bridge Spicy Crab for dinner. Oddly enough there are actually 3 locations all on the same street corner! The crab had just been delivered as we arrived so they opened a couple of boxes for us to choose our dinner. It was a medium large crab and we told them to cook it with moderately hot spice.

This was the best crab house I’ve ever eaten at. All three items we ordered were done to perfection and delicious in their own special way. This style of cooking comes from the Tanka Boat People.

The crab was perfectly spicy with fried garlic and red chilies. The green beans were just right and the roast pork and duck with crispy skin was out of this world. To cook the fat away, yet leave the outer skin cooked crispy and keep the meat juicy and tender is an art form. The waitstaff were helpful with everything from picking the crab to cracking the shell. We shared a beer that just seemed to compliment the salty-spicy meal.

 

Throughout the garden one is wrapped a sense of serenity, peace and quiet.

 

A little more culinary exploration and we found Din Tain Fung – a very good chain with about 2 dozen locations throughout Asia.

While visiting Taiwani last year I ate at the Taipei location, but this place had a nicer dining room and better food.

 

 

 

 

A visit to Hong Kong has to include that Cantonese specialty – Dim Sum. The following pictures are some of what we shared for brunch on the day we were leaving to return to Jinan.

 

Crisp spring rolls

Some of the best Hot & Sour soup I’ve ever had.

Spicy cucumbers

I really enjoyed Hong Kong for the many quality food options and would like to return to do more food searching. Perhaps a tour with a focus on plenty of food pictures would be a fun trip in the future. The culinary options seem limitless in Hong Kong. There are Brazilian Steakhouses, Irish Pubs, Indian, German, Italian, Japanese, Indonesian, International cuisine. If you like food, this is a great city to come and taste.

 

Oh and one last picture;……………………………….

What’s a trip to HK without some mention of Bruce Lee?

Permanent link to this article: http://english-speak-english.com/hong-kong/

11 comments

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    • Steven on May 21, 2017 at 8:52 am
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    Thank you very much, Kevin.
    It always made me learn something new from your article.
    Just like after this article, I would like to fly to HongKong for visit if I have enough time. haha…

    1. It is my pleasure to know that you enjoyed the article. I recommend HK as a good place to explore the food scene….and this is why I have trouble losing weight!
      For residents of the eastern part of mainland China Hong Kong is an easy trip. Hotel costs can be high so you need to shop around for the bargains.
      To be frank, I must say that I enjoyed the vibe of Taipei more than HK because it was not so crowded, but HK wins for best food choices and variety.
      Go see for yourself.

    • Summer on May 22, 2017 at 7:24 am
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    Because of HK’S low tax rate a lot of people want to go there for shopping.
    Now, we have another good reason to visit: Delicious food!!
    You can’t imagine how hungry I was when I finished reading the article.
    Also it seems English is a useful skill while traveling in Kong Kong. I now have more motivation to learn.

    1. The best part of HK was the food. With so many choices it was almost hard to decide where to eat! I think that means I must return for further food research.

    • David on May 23, 2017 at 8:03 am
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    The beautiful city photos and delicious food photos immediately made me realize why Hong Kong is known as the “Oriental pearl”, “gourmet paradise” and “shopping paradise”. I enjoyed the article very much, Thank you Kevin for your sharing.

    1. Happy to know you enjoyed this article.
      HK is an easy trip for you in Jinan and you too can try some of these delicious treats!

    • Morning on May 27, 2017 at 2:41 am
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    Through this article I have a deeper understanding of Hong Kong. But the biggest surprise is to learn there are so many good places to eat! It is a very very hard work to taste all the delicacies, right? I enjoyed this article very much, but I will go to see it by myself. I am sure of that!

  1. I went to Hong Kong many years ago, but the only impression left in my mind was crowded with people and skyscrapers. Now I realize what I missed doing my last trip: eating some of the many delicacies, one of the most wonderful things in the world. I think I found my new goal for next year: trying Hong Kong’s various tasty food.

    1. There is no doubt it is a crowded little place, but the food makes it bearable as a destination for travel. I recommend you check out a couple of the places we tried. You won’t be disappointed.

    • May on June 3, 2017 at 3:44 am
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    When we talk about Hong Kong, the “Pearl of the east”, a “shopper’s paradise” and “Fragrant Harbour” all come into our mind. Hong Kong is a mysterious place to me. After reading your post, I found another good reason to visit Hong Kong, that’s the food! I really enjoy beauty and food, and reading your blog! Haha..

    1. For me it was all about the food for sure. I do think that the summer months would be oppressively hot for me though, but other times of year are ok for a visit. I would definitely go back for more food touring.

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