Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hong Kong - Dim Sum at Tim Ho Wan



There are plenty of options for dim sum in Hong Kong. After some deliberation, we settled on Tim Ho Wan because it was both well-regarded (including a much-hyped Michelin star) and inexpensive.



Also, they have menu-based ordering. While I understand the appeal of frantic and chaotic ordering from carts as the dim sum ladies push them about, I prefer being able to get the exact items I want.

Here is the English menu we were presented with as we queued up in line:



We loved everything we had, but perhaps our favorite was the bbq pork rice noodle roll (cheung fan - listed as "vermicelli roll" on the menu):



Lovely thin rice noodle wrapped around delicious pork and topped with a very nicely balanced soy-based sauce.



We had never had chicken feet before, so we figured that we should try them. Turns out that we liked them - a lot. Finicky to eat, but with a fantastic texture and a great sauce.

Tim Ho Wan is perhaps most famous for their baked bbq pork buns, so we had to order them:



The outside is very delicate and slightly sweet. The filling is deliciously savory pork, and not too sweet.



Another favorite of ours was the steamed beancurd skin with a pork filling. Really nice.



Back in Hong Kong on our way home, we couldn't resist a return visit. We repeated the bbq pork rice roll (adding a second, beef version as well), and the filled beancurd skin.

New this time was a dish of steamed rice with chicken and sausage:



This is basically the prototypical clay pot rice contents, but without the crispy rice bottom you get from the clay pot. The sausage was fun, and the chicken was very good.

We also got some steamed spareribs with black bean sauce:



Hard to eat, but super tasty.



We rounded out both visits to Tim Ho Wan with "poached fresh seasonal vegetable" - which turned out to be lettuce. We mostly got it to get some vegetables in us, but it was surprisingly delicious, mostly due to the sauce they poured over.

Tim Ho Wan has a number of locations in Hong Kong - we went to the one in North Point.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hong Kong - Street Food in Kowloon



Hong Kong is a great place for street food. If you like eating tasty treats on a stick, you will not be disappointed. You can find street food most anywhere, but the largest density is probably in Kowloon at night.



We purchased the fried tofu above from a bustling stall a few blocks southwest of the Ladies' Market.



The outside of the tofu was crispy, the inside soft and it came with a nice spicy sauce.

Walking down farther south to the Temple Street Night Market, we had our first stick of curried fish balls:



Spicy and delicious.



Not in Kowloon this time, but just outside the Tin Hau MTR station, we had the street version of cheung fan - rolled rice noodles:



I wasn't a big fan of the sauces (too sweet), but I liked the texture of the rolls. The guy running the stall was quite the character:



We found ourselves back in Kowloon again at the tail end of our trip. Near the Mong Kok MTR stop, at the corner of Mong Kok Road and Tung Choi Street are a number of very busy street food vendors.



We got a little bowl of shiumai, which were pretty good but basically shiumai-shaped fish balls.



Just down the street was a guy grilling up skewers of various meats.



Unable to resist meat-on-a-stick, we had two lamb skewers. They were lovely - tender and full of flavor.



We still needed a little snack, so we got some fried chicken bites from one of the ubiquitous Hot Star stands. Crispy, and coated with some chili and five-spice flavor.



We rounded out the evening with soft-serve ice cream when we succumbed to the lure of a Mobile Softee truck.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hong Kong - Noodle Soups at Sister Wah, Wing Kee and Tsim Chai Kee



It is hard to explain why I liked Sister Wah's brisket noodle soup so much. There isn't much to it - a clear beef broth with slices of tender brisket and your choice of noodle (we preferred the wide rice noodle).



The curry version is tasty, too, but for us the simple clear soup version was the winner. When we flew back into Hong Kong at the end of our trip, the first thing we did was rush out to Sister Wah to get there before they closed at 11:00pm.



Wing Kee Noodle is a build-your-own bowl (cart noodle) joint serving up inexpensive bowls to a bustling clientele. When we arrived, there was a long line out the door, but it moved quickly and we needed the extra time to figure out what to order.



 I got brisket (called "flake" on the menu), beef ball, and radish:



Sherry got pork neck, sausage and radish:



Both bowls were very tasty.

The day we flew home from Hong Kong, we managed to fit in one more bowl of noodle soup - this time at Tsim Chai Kee:



Busy place, with friendly staff and patrons. They only have a few options on the menu - fish ball, shrimp wonton, beef, or any combination of the three. We each got a bowl of all three and wow was it overflowing! I really liked the shrimp wonton - nice, big chunks of shrimp. The fish cake was huge - we could barely lift it with our chopsticks.

Overall, a very good send-off home from Hong Kong.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Hong Kong - Egg Tart ("daan taat") Obsession



We ate egg tarts every single day we were in Hong Kong. Sometimes more than one. Sometimes more than two. Obsession? Maybe, but I will not apologize for our behavior.

Particularly in the morning, a warm egg tart ("daan taat" in Cantonese) snatched from the tray in a bakery storefront window is a wonderful thing.



Pictured above, the egg tarts from Violet Cake Shop in Causeway Bay were some of the prettiest we had.

My favorite egg tart in Hong Kong, though? Whichever one I currently held in my hand. Most often, it was this one from Likey Bakery:



Likey Bakery was just down the street from our hotel in Causeway bay, and as such it provided both our first egg tart and our most re-occuring.



One morning we watched with horror as the patron in front of us absconded with all but the last tart from the tray. We were forced to share, when we *really* wanted one each.



Egg tarts come in two varieties - cookie crust and fluffy puff pastry crust. I fully expected to like the puff pastry version better, but I wound up solidly in the cookie crust camp. Don't get me wrong, though - the puff pastry version is damned good, too. The above version is from Dragon Ball Bakery.



Perhaps the most "famous" egg tart we had was this one:



It was from Honolulu Coffee Shop in Wan Chai. Was it good? Yes. Better than the others? Like I said, my favorite egg tart was whichever one I currently held in my hand.



My recommendation for egg tarts in Hong Kong is eat them early and often.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Hong Kong - Roasted meats at Joy Hing and Hon Lok



Roasted meats (pork, duck, goose, pigeon...) are everywhere in Hong Kong. It is hard to walk very far in this city before you pass by a shop with delicious looking bronzed roast beasts hanging in the window. Fittingly, then, our first meal in Hong Kong was a roast pork feast at Joy Hing Roasted Meat in the downtown neighborhood of Wan Chai.



Joy Hing, like many well-regarded small restaurants in Hong Kong, is always busy. These places pack people in, though - you generally find yourself sharing a table with others. Even if there is a line, it usually moves quickly. You aren't expected to linger at a place like this.



Service at Joy Hing is brusk, and was less tolerant of our lack of Cantonese than most other places we visited. Despite no English menu, we managed to get a plate of bbq pork (char siu) and roast pork. It was more food than we needed and priced well above what we expected, but was undeniably delicious.

We had better ordering luck at Hon Lok Roasted Restaurant, near our Hotel in Causeway Bay.



Again, communication proved difficult, but a combination of Cantonese, English and finger pointing soon had the friendly staff plopping down plates of roast duck and pork, along with rice and the ubiquitous gai lan (Chinese broccoli) in oyster sauce. Exactly what we wanted.



Delicious, and it also cost a fraction of what we paid at Joy Hing.



A guy at the next table briefly suspended inhaling his own food to chide my inefficient use of chopsticks to eat rice with. His waving of his spoon at me made his point clear. Lesson learned, and one that stuck with me for the rest of the trip.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Street Food in Playa del Carmen

El Rey del Taco in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

We recently spent a blissful two weeks relaxing at the beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. When we weren't swimming in the ocean, chances were that we were getting something to eat. Playa is super touristy right by the beach, but you only have to get a few blocks inland to mostly get away from that.

We really enjoyed the street food in Playa. These are some of our favorites out of the spots we found.

El Rey del Taco
Arrachera and Campechanos El Rey del Taco in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Pictured at the top of the post, El Rey del Taco serves up a variety of tacos, including arrachera (skirt steak) and campechanos (steak with chorizo). They are located on the southwest side of the parking lot of the Mega supermarket on 30th. They start business around 4pm, but there is a similar cart on the opposite side of the parking lot earlier in the day.

Kuni
Kuni in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Also located on the southwest side of the Mega parking lot is Kuni, a seafood taco cart. Most of their business is making very tasty shrimp tacos:

Shrimp tacos at Kuni in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Their fish tacos are also good. I'm not sure of their exact hours, but they were usually there around mid-day and didn't seem to go very late into the afternoon.

Salbutes
Salbutes in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Salbutes are freshly deep-fried discs of dough (a mixture of masa and flour, I think), topped with a variety of condiments. We stumbled across a stand on Avenida 25 across from the Walmart that makes very fine examples indeed:

Salbutes in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

These ones are topped with shredded chicken (they also did ground meat and egg versions). We enjoyed these for breakfast twice - we found this place late in our stay or we would have eaten there even more. They also do empanadas - the same fried dough, but with a filling inside. We never got past the awesome salbutes, though...