Must Eat Treats in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth! Everywhere you turn, you’ll find amazing treats to satisfy your cravings. And all made to perfection! These are some of my favourite must-eats from Hong Kong:

DSC_0226 copyKam Wah Cafe

Most of the good food finds in Hong Kong are from tiny and obscure venues. The famous Bo Lo Baos at this little cafe definitely lives up to its hype. They are, without a doubt, the BEST bo lo baos in town. The ratio of buttery, crunchy topping and soft, shreddable bread was out of this world! And for $6 (equivalent to 60p!), it was amazing value! They also serve the baos with different fillings such as a slab of butter, ham etc. The milk tea at this cafe is also renowned – it is a simple, good, strong cup of black, milky tea.

IMG_0541Via Tokyo
One of the most famous soft serves on social media in Hong Kong is from this little dessert store in Hong Kong. They specialise in Japanese tea flavours and we were hoping to try their famous green matcha but Wednesdays are “Reverse Tokyo” days, when they do not serve matcha, and focus on their special flavour of the day, which was Hojicha, another Japanese tea. BUT we were not disappointed! Hojicha has a distinct and strong tea flavour, which you often find lacking in matcha desserts, so we were pleasantly surprised. The 3 flavour waffle cup consisted of Royal Milk Tea, Hojicha and Hokkaido Milk soft serves with adzuki red bean, mochi and a chestnut. Shared between 2, this was a very satisfying ice cream treat!

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Mammy’s pancakes

This waffle store serves a variety of different flavours (sesame, matcha, chestnut, coffee…) as well as the original egg waffle. The queue at 8:30pm just shows the popularity of this tiny store. I had the matcha green tea with chocolate egg waffle, which had soft and crunchy textures, and the two flavours were a great combination.

DSC_0022 copy佳佳甜品

Puddings in Hong Kong are a popular treat, and this little venue is known for its tong yuan (glutinous rice balls) and thick puddings. We had the thick walnut pudding, which had a light flavour and the perfect sweetness. We also had the original black sesame tong yuan in ginger soup. The ginger was strong, spicy and refreshing, which balanced the sweetness of the black sesame filling.

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Tai Cheong bakery

This famous bakery chain serves the best egg tarts in Hong Kong. The filling was light, not-too-eggy and slightly sweet, and the hint of salt in the pastry accentuated the short, buttery flavour.

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McDonald’s

Don’t judge me for including McDonald’s! Hear me out first! McDonald’s in Asia is a treat – they serve food that actually looks and tastes like what it should be. We had a few sweet treats from the specials menu: purple sweet potato ice cream ($5.5 = 50p!!) and red bean pie ($7 = 70p). The ice cream tasted surprisingly earthy and true to the sweet potato flavour. The pie was super crunchy but the filling was overly sweet.

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Seemingly, at every street corner in Hong Kong, there is a small local bakery serving delicious, fluffy bread. This Bo Lo Bao with red bean was amazingly light. I mean, how do they get so much air in the bread?? I want the secret!

Let me know if you have any recommendations – I will definitely be back to Hong Kong!

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*** Bo Innovation – Hong Kong

As testimony to my priorities in life, our first stop in Hong Kong was Bo Innovation. A 3-michelin star restaurant serving experimental Chinese food using molecular gastronomy. We saw Mr Bo (Alvin Leung) himself – a very casual man and a far cry from the refined surroundings of the restaurant. He’s a celebrity (as a judge on Masterchef Canada) and has opened restaurants around the world, including Bo London, which has one Michelin Star in London.

We treated ourselves to the set lunch menu, which was amazing value and I’m pretty sure is the cheapest 3 Michelin star meal in the world! 430HKD for 3 courses (not including drinks)!

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Appetiser: Scallion & sausage egg waffle – a complimentary snack to share – this was a savoury twist on the popular street food that is traditionally sweet. There was no filling in the waffle, but had a great, crisp texture, and was deliciously moreish. Even though there was seemingly little ingredients, the slight salty flavour from the sausage and the scallion was intense.
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Starter: Foie gras – the foie gras had a thin skin from being pan-fried, and the interior had an extremely rich and slightly salty flavour. The muy choi caramel ice-cream was a creative touch, and provided a contrast of temperature and texture, but the rich flavour added too much saltiness to the plate. This was slightly offset by the cucumber foam, which was very light, and the crunchy gingerbread.
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Main: Red mullet – the torched skin was amazingly crispy and created a captivating pattern. The fish itself was flaky, melt-in-the-mouth and fresh. The black bean sauce was, again, very salty, so a little went a long way. The sweet peppers were coated in a …that added texture and a powerful flavour, and the shitake mushrooms finished off the oriental theme of the dish.
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Dessert: Coconut – the entertaining touch to the meal was saved to the end as the waiter brought over a bowl of dried coconut ice and dropped it onto each plate from a height, creating a waft of smoke. This provided a crunchy texture and a strong coconut flavour, that was well balanced with the light caramel ice-cream, which was not too sweet. The vivid green pandan mousse complimented not only the tropical flavours, but also the colours on the plate. The only downside was the texture of the cherry jelly which was too hard and chewy for my liking.

My parents had the following:

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Appetiser: Molecular char siu bao (90HKD) – a thin layer of pastry encasing a juice with the flavours of char siu bao – we were told to close our eyes and imagine the real char siu bao!
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Starter: Scallop ceviche with Shanghainese “jolo”, woba, sugar snap peas, avocado, lemon
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Starter: Langoustine with black truffle, cauliflower risotto, salty duck egg sauce, pickled cauliflower, english mustard foam, duck jus
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Main: Suckling Pig with roasted sichuan pineapple, pork jus

IMG_0525Main: Pigeon with shiitake mushroom cake, black carrot, sour plum pigeon jus

In my honest opinion, the Michelin quality in Hong Kong is not as refined as in the UK. Even though this was my first 3 star experience, I had expected more. Maybe I set my standards too high, but the food and the whole experience did not wow me. I expected more surprises, more bursts of flavour, more artistic presentation, and a more unique experience.

Price: Set Lunch 450HKD for 3 courses, $70 for a bottle of still water

Rating: 4.5/5

Bo Innovation: Shop 13,2/f,J Residence, 60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong (Private lift entrance on 18 Ship Street)

Eating my way around NYC (part 2)

A few weeks in NYC and I feel like I understand how a food business can be successful. Just get on the social media bandwagon and become overhyped. Some places deserve the attention, but others….not so much.

Clinton Street Bakery:

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2014-09-14 10.33.40When you ask a new yorker where to go for brunch, Clinton St will be on top of that list. The over hype means that queues start forming before 8:30am on the weekend before they open their doors at 9am. We arrived at 8:45am and still had to wait an hour for the second seating. The Fried Chicken and Waffles, which came with maple butter was bland – not well seasoned or flavoured, but very crispy, and the waffles were the best I’ve had in NYC – fluffy and oh-so-satisfying with the maple butter. The Huevos Rancheros consisted of simple ingredients but did not combine to be anything spectacular. The Southern Breakfast: sugar-cured bacon with cheese grits, fried tomatoes and poached eggs. I never understood the concept of sweet and savoury with bacon before, but now I do. Crispy, sweet, just delicious. Each component of the dish was cooked perfectly but again, it did not come together well.  Overall, over hyped but I might need to come back to try their famous pancakes before I finalise my judgement.

Totto ramen:

2014-09-15 19.26.23Busy, even on a Monday evening, this place had to be good! And I was not disappointed. The broth! Thick, flavourful, delicious! I had the Paitan ramen with pork($9.75), which had a small amount of pork and char siu, which comes with most bowls, topped with LOTS of spring onions and a piece of nori. Surprisingly, the noodles came al dente, which I didn’t particularly like, but is the way the dish is supposed to be. The ramen in the other dishes are served soft.

Murray’s Cheese Bar:

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2014-09-17 19.20.59Burrata, with pesto, grilled artichoke and toast ($14). The burrata was served chilled, was firm and incredibly creamy inside. For me, they overdid the olive oil drizzling – I would have liked to have done my own drizzling. But overall, simple ingredients, good dinner. I also had a bite of my friend’s mac and cheese with fried onions. It was delish but simple. Not particularly unique or memorable.

Smorgasburg on a Saturday:

2014-09-27 15.26.10The Hibiscus doughnut ($2.75) from Dough was so soft, the icing had a nice tanginess to it, and the dried hibiscus was interesting – sweet and slightly chewy. However, if the dough was flavoured too, it would have been 5 stars. I have high expectations, I know. There are other intriguing icing flavours on offer including Tropical Chilli, Chocolate Salted Caramel, Toasted Coconut etc.

2014-09-27 15.40.08Mighty Quinn’s BBQ Lil Brisket ($5). The outer edges of the brisket had a good smokiness to it, but the majority of the meat did not have this flavour. For me, it was slightly dry, but the worcestershire-type sauce was delicious – slightly sweet and tangy. Just a piece of advice: the Lil brisket is so much more worth it than the big brisket, which had a similar amount of brisket in just a larger bun for $10.

Woorijip (12 W 32nd St):

2014-09-07 Woorijip Korean RestaurantQuick stop Korean food. There’s a buffet priced by weight with a hot and cold section, and already boxed dishes behind heated cabinets. We tried the kimchi fried rice, which did not have much kimchi but was nicely spiced. We also had fishballs with rice cakes. This was very filling – too many rice cakes for my liking, but the sweet spicy sauce was delicious. We also had the spicy chicken, which was lightly battered and not too hot. These 3 dishes was plenty for 2 people at ~$14.

Apologies for my lack of posts! I’ve started training for my new job and been in New York for 5 weeks. It’s time for a food update! 😀  This city is food heaven! There’s so much choice here – it is so concentrated! There have been good and disappointing experiences.

Smorgasburg market on a Sunday:

2014-08-31 Smorgasburg Beef cucumber roti canai

Outer Borough ($8) for two beef wraps. The pastry was sooo good: flaky and soft, similar to roti canai. The beef was tender, and was garnished with a sweet hoisin-type sauce, and cilantro (note: not coriander here!).

2014-08-31 SmorgasburgMimi & Coco shrimp takoyaki 6 balls for $10. This was the first time I tried a takoyaki, so not sure how it’s supposed to taste. Personally, I found the batter too raw/soft. It was liberally doused in mayo (not very authentic), bonito flakes and takoyaki sauce.

Chinatown:

2014-08-30 Sheng Wang-Wonton peel noodlesChinatown is the place to be for homecooked CHEAP eats! Where else can you get a filling bowl of noodles for only $5?! And they don’t add tax or expect a tip! However, you have to know what to order, otherwise it can be pretty disappointing. Like my Fuijanese wonton soup peel noodles from Sheng Wang. They had some good reviews for good noodles, but the peel noodles were undercooked and slightly hard, and there were only about 6 TINY wontons. They were literally marble sized, and who knows what kind of meat were in them…But I do want to go back to try their handpulled noodles.

Madison Square Eats:

2014-09-09 Asiadog, Red Hook Lobster Pound Maine lobster rollAt Madison Square Park, they have a food market on until October called Madison Square Eats, with around 10-15 vendors. We had a late night venture there after work. I love markets for their variety of offerings but the portions are pretty small. We tried two hotdogs from Asia Dog, which offer asian-fied hotdogs. We had one with mango pickle, peanuts and a chilidog (2 hotdogs for $9). The sausages were so thin, so it wasn’t very satisfying, and the mango pickle was a strange combination with the savoury sausage.

We also had a Red Hook Lobster Pound Maine lobster roll ($16), which was so good! Lobster is always expensive, but there was a generous amount of lobster in the roll. Again, one roll was not satisfying enough though! Maybe that’s just me and my big stomach…

Great Burrito (…not that great):

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2014-09-05 Best BurritoAfter a long day of training, nothing is more appealing than hearty Mexican food. We ordered a beef burrito ($10) and a mixed beef and pork enchilada ($11). I thought this was expensive for a tiny, basic shop on 23rd street, especially since the food was nothing to rave about. The burrito was packed with yellow rice, beef and beans, and covered in white sauce (which I still don’t understand…is it mayo?). The beef was dry, but the rice was cooked well and the chilli sauce was tasty. The enchilada was hearty, but again, the meat was dry and the taste was covered by the white sauce and beans. All in all, there are better and cheaper places for good Mexican food in NYC.

Peruvian Lunch at Lima Floral

Lima London’s first restaurant has been a huge success in London. It is only one of a handful of Peruvian restaurants in London, which is growing in popularity here. My first experience at Lima London, which has gained a Michelin star, was breathtaking. The flavours, the presentation, the polite and helpful staff – everything was perfect! So when they announced the opening of their second restaurant: Lima Floral, I had to give it a try!

I took my family, so I managed to taste more dishes on the menu:

For starters, I had the Tuna Causa: tuna tartare, yellow potato with crudo vegetable roots. The presentation was outstanding, especially with the bright, fun colours. The tuna tartare was well prepared and tasted very fresh, the potato mash was seasoned with tiger’s milk (a lime dressing used in ceviche), so it had a refreshing and unique sour taste, which complemented the fish well. However, the raw vegetables only added aesthetics. The crunchy texture juxtaposed the soft textures of the dish, and did not enhance the flavours.

Tuna Causa

Tiradito: sea bream, green tiger’s milk, giant crushed corn. The sea bream was tender, smooth and easy to eat. The tiger’s milk was very sour, personally, too sour. But overall, the taste and colours of this dish were refreshing.

Tiradito

Crudo Mar: salmon, rocoto chilli pepper, blue potato. Have you ever seen a potato with such a vibrant colour? Amazing! It tastes like the average potato, but its subtle flavour combined with the punchy, sour rocoto chilli pepper tiger’s milk and soft, creamy salmon was delicious. The tiger’s milk was not spicy, just slightly sweet and very sour.Crudo Mar

For mains:

Organic Lamb: lamb rump, eco dry potato, queso fresco, black quinoa, crispy blue potato. This was the star dish of the meal. Amazing presentation, and the lamb was cooked to perfection! It was juicy, tender, with just the right amount of fat to lean meat ratio. The mashed potatoes was creamy and queso fresco was tangy, and the blue potatoes added a crisp texture. This dish had everything. My only complaint was the quinoa, which was very oily, but the sesame oil flavour was delightful. Surprisingly, the portion size was generous and made this dish worthwhile in every respect.

Organic Lamb2Chicken Chalaca: chicken breast, Andean corn, raw asparagus, wood sorrel. This was a very generous portion of chicken, which was dressed in a sweet pepper and mildly sour sauce. It was accompanied with giant corn, which is not your usual sweetcorn. It has a denser, softer texture, similar to potato, and tastes more like rice or a similar grain. The corn mash, which has a heavier and grainier texture than potato mash, made this dish very substantial. The raw asparagus, again, only provided aesthetics and a refreshing crunch but didn’t complement the rest of dish well.
Chicken Chalaca2

Hot Ceviche a la Piedra: Sea bream, hot tiger’s milk, sweet potato, Yuyo seaweed. The sea bream was very well prepared – the skin was crispy, and the flesh was tender and juicy. The sweet potato went well with the sour tiger’s milk, and the overall dish was very refreshing. The flavour of the seaweed was subtle with the fish, so my only criticism is that more seaweed would have highlighted its flavour better. And maybe better presentation.Hot Sea Bream Ceviche

Grilled Monkfish: monkfish, yellow chilli pepper, courgette, green and red tiger’s milk. The monkfish was tender and juicy, and was presented in a warm tiger’s milk broth, which was sour. The combination of lime and fish reminded me of south east Asian cuisine, but it may not suit everyone’s taste. Again, the vegetables in this dish did not enhance the flavour or textures.Grilled Monkfish

Desserts:

Cafe Peruano: coffee ice cream, blue potato, red kiwicha. The blue potato reminded me of malt powder. It had a similiar powdery texture and was laced with sweetness. It had a very subtle earthy flavour, which complemented the coffee ice cream, but it was very dry in the mouth, and there was too much of it compared to the ice cream. The red kiwicha is a small grain, but it did not have a strong flavour so was unnecessary.Purple potato, coffee ice cream

Chirimoya: chirimoya mousse, maca root, purple potato. This was not my favourite dessert, but the ingredients sounded intriguing. Chirimoya is a native Andes fruit, which added a subtly sweet, almost banana, tropical flavour to the mousse. The mousse was slightly lumpy, the maca root was a similar powder to the purple potato powder in the above dessert, and added a sweet and contrasting texture to the mousse. The purple potato seemed baked so it had a soft, rubbery texture, which did not enhance the flavour or texture of this dessert.Chirimoya mousse

Drink

Pisco Sour. Pisco is the spirit used in this drink, combined with lime. It is sour and invigorating!Pisco Sour

Overall, Lima Floral is a great place to try unique Peruvian ingredients, which are well prepared. Their dishes are flavourful, although some ingredients only have aesthetic purposes (their use of fresh vegetables could be improved). The portion sizes are very generous for a London restaurant, and it is one of more worthwhile Peruvian places to try. Next time, I’ll order from their piqueos menu (tapas style), which is quite extensive and would be a great way to try a few more of their unique dishes.

Lima Floral: 14 Garrick St, London, WC2E 9BJ

Rating: 3.5/5