Hong Kong Trip, late summer 2016

Recap of my recent trip to HK.

Kicked off with dim sum lunch at 2* Yan Toh Heen at the Intercontinental hotel.

Signature jade place setting

Started the meal with a tea recommendation by the ‘tea sommelier’ - Mandarin Pu-erh. Pu-erh tea aged 5 years in mandarin peel. Starts off fruit forward with the delicate aroma of the mandarin peel taking centrestage during the first infusion. The pu-erh becomes more pronounced with subsequent infusions. Interestingly the tea never turns too strong or bitter as typically encountered with lower quality teas. According to the sommelier the pu-erh sourced is of extremely high quality and the tea is offered at a loss to the restaurant.

First course - Braised Whole Abalone and Seafood on a Crispy Taro Net. Luxe fried taro, yup, that’s an entire baby abalone atop the taro ball.

Trio of dumplings - Steamed Scallop with Black Truffles and Vegetables Dumpling, Steamed Lobster and Bird’s Nest Dumpling with Gold Leaf, Steamed King Crab Leg Dumpling with Green Vegetables

Crispy Lobster Dumpling served with Supreme Broth - Amazing broth, subtle and delicate flavors. Crust of the lobster dumpling was delicate and light.

Very well made siu mai ( Pork and Prawn Dumplings with Crabmeat Roe) very light and springy. Good ratio of shrimp to pork.

Har gow - not the thinnest skin, otherwise very well made.

Steamed Garoupa, Prawn and Scallop Dumplings - forgot to take a pic of the super cute dumplings, attached from Openrice.

Suckling pig (Jinling Suckling Pig is coated with maltose and air-dried for
four hours. Traditional charcoaling makes the skin crispy and the meat
tender.) - wonderful crispy skin, although Fook Lam Moon’s version later in the week surpasses this.

Double Boiled Fish Maw and Sea Whelk - Amazing broth and ingredients.

Finished off with Fried Rice Wrapped and Steamed in a Lotus Leaf

Very expensive and high quality dim sum experience, sadly it was marred by the dismal service. Lunch took a little over two hours, time between courses were wayyy too long and service really fell apart during the 2nd half of the meal. Very visibly short staffed in the almost full restaurant, quite unacceptable for the price and reputation.


Egg tarts from Tai Cheong outlet in Central - Shortcrust style pastry - Best egg tarts ever - Wow!

Local market around the corner from Tai Cheong.


Offal on a stick quick bites in TST


Dinner at 1* Fook Lam Moon TST. Renowned as the “Billionaire’s canteen”, purportedly a regular hangout for the wealthy in HK. There have been numerous postings about poor service from non-regular diners. Fortunately my host was a regular and service was excellent throughout. Interestingly enough, there was no upselling of dishes, in fact the waiters often suggested more affordable restaurant favorites. I think the meal is best described as a very well executed homey classic cantonese dishes. Note the dishes served are devoid of garnishments…

Salt and pepper frog’s leg

Lotus root cakes

Razor clam in black bean sauce

Braised claypot fish

Suckling pig - ordered in advance. Wow best suckling pig I’ve ever had!

Fried rice in lotus leaf - Excellent simple dish, loaded with conpoy

Stir fried pigeon served with lettuce leaves

Signature super soft and supple - Red bean mochi. Amazing!

Crisp rice cakes


Dinner at oddly named restaurant in Mongkok “Boat Dweller Steam Hot Pot”.

Alternative style steamed “hot pot” developed by boat dwellers. Food items are steamed on a metal rack while the juices drip into the congee below. The conical straw cover absorbs the steam and prevents water from dripping back into the food. The menu lists the cooking time for each food item to a consistent outcome. The steaming method ensures one gets to enjoy the pure flavors of each ingredient. A little sauce bar offers a wide selection of DIY dipping sauces similar to what you’d find in a regular hot pot restaurant.

Induction steamer

Live seafood selection for diners to select ingredients for their meal.


Huge kuruma ebi ~ 10" each.

Mantis prawn - This was about 12" in length!

Crystal crab

Sweetest clams I’ve ever had

Pumpkin and pork congee infused with seafood drippings to end the meal.


Dammit you ate like a G. So jealous.

Fook Lam Moon is THE place where the Ferrari drivers and chauffeured-set congregate. Their suckling pig is on my 3 best pig bites on Earth.

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@J_L, haha yeah did quite well food-wise on this trip. A few more updates to follow. Food scene is quite amazing (and expensive) in HK.

Scored some luxe hockey pucks while I was in town.

Spring Moon, Moon cakes from Peninsula. This highly coveted moon cake was sold out at least several weeks prior to my trip. Fortunately a friend was able to score an order on short notice. Comes in a box of 8, a fraction the size of regular mooncakes. Similar to an inverted egg tart, pastry is the short crust variety similar to Tai Cheong’s, while the filling is like a firmly baked egg custard. Interesting but I still prefer the traditional style mooncakes. Note: Delicate crust does not travel well…

Double yolk white lotus seed mooncake from Fook Lam Moon. This is my new benchmark, silky filing and note the perfectly consistent colored moist salted egg yolk. Wow, definitely a step up from Wing Wah. Then again it cost close to $90 a box…


HKG Airport dining, light years ahead of the crappy food at LAX’s Tom Bradley.

Breakfast at 1* Ho Hung Kee - Classic wonton noodles and chicken feet in black bean sauce

Dim sum lunch at Maxim’s Jade Garden - even their airport restaurants have fancier place settings vs. top LA Chinese restaurants…


Holy. What a trip. Thank you for sharing.

That Albalone / Taro ball dish looks insaneeee. I gazed deeply into its eye. And that mochi!

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Delicious trip @Sgee. Nice sharing the service, plating, as well as cuisine.

If you don’t mind, questions: After eating this way, are you more critical of restaurants in the U.S. If not, what restaurants do you still enjoy? And why? It doesn’t have to be L.A.

I’m a little surprised by the service at Yan Toh Heen. I watched a pretentious but interesting doc on Netflix. It was about food bloggers who travel the globe with the goal of eating at Michelin Star restaurants. I’m pretty sure this was one of the places featured. Do you think it deserves the Michelin?

Anyone, feel free to give comments as well.


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Wrapped up our trip with dinner in Lei Yue Mun. I had initially planned a trip to Sai Kung, unfortunately our busy schedule got the better of us. Fortunately the much closer former fishing village of Lei Yue Mun located in SE Kowloon and easily accessible by MTR offered a respectable alternative. Our local friends recommended the “Happiness Seafood Restaurant” located literally at the end of the main thoroughfare running through the village. Google maps was hopeless, just walk along the path until you come upon the basketball court and Jockey Club Lei Yue Mun Plus. After the glitz and glamour of the city’s main drags, the restaurant was a throwback to the 80s era slightly cheesy Chinese restaurant decor, a lot like what you’d find in SGV…

Our meal began with a complementary savory papaya soup, not sure what the broth was made of it was very tasty.

The seafood vendor talked me out of another round of “very expensive” kuruma ebi and suggested regular prawns simply steamed. Tasty but I did have a tinge of regret for not picking the sweeter kuruma ebi instead…

Fried Kai Lan

Salt and pepper fried mantis prawn. Excellent, very sweet flesh and flavorful seasoning #cuzwecantgetmantisprawninLA

Whelks cooked in szechuan spicy broth. Wish whelks are more common stateside, sweet and delicious. #cuzwecantgetwhelksinLA

Steamed fish

Seafood vendor suggested this over abalone, better eating according to him. Razor clams in black bean sauce, well prepared however edged out by the version at Fook Lam Moon

Complementary dessert. Plum flower gelee over coconut custard. Very sweet watermelon and cantaloupe.

A very good meal overall, everything was very well prepared and highly recommended if you’re seeking some 'ol time nostalgia without the trek to Sai Kung.

One of the few remaining vendors open as we headed back to our hotel.


@TheCookie That’s a loaded question!
I think in HK one can eat very well across all price spectrums and there is a much higher % of very good restaurants compared to the U.S. Besides the disaster at Yan Toh Heen, I find service in HK to very professional, efficient and attentive. One gets the sense that the restaurant exists to serve their diners and not the restaurant/celeb chef, I don’t recollect encountering any “celebrity chefs” at the starred restaurants I dined in. i.e No clue who the chefs are at Fook Lam Moon or Yan Toh Heen or Kam’s Roast Goose etc.

I felt more excited dining out in HK, there are more restaurants serving food that would have been too difficult / time consuming for me to prepare at home. I know I’m going to get flamed but I don’t get excited with most of the small plate joints in LA, serving food that can be recreated at home without too much difficulty. I recollect a debate with Porthos some time ago about how he preferred our local LA dining scene with more accessible and affordable everyday cuisine vs. the Michelin centric high end options in NYC and SF. In HK you have it across ALL spectrums, affordable food too difficult to prepare at home without a 100k BTU burner and very high end 3* dining options. Just a mind boggling number of restaurants on every block… and not just Chinese. Pierre Herme, Laduree, Salon de Thé Robuchon, Dallyou for macarons; Robuchon has an empire of restaurants, Ducasse, Sushi bar exports from Japan to name a few.

While there is a lot of luxe and glam, somehow the restaurants don’t seem as pretentious…, no hipster servers too cool to serve you. As a diner I feel that I’m centerstage and not the other way around. Maybe its just me being starry eyed in a foreign city… Would love to hear thoughts from HK transplants.

Returning to LA - foods that I will likely seek out are acai bowls, Mexican (tacos, birria etc), burgers, hot dogs, pizza. Sticking with what LA outdoes cities abroad.

I think I’m finally coming around as a detractor of the Michelin guide. The stars set too high of an expectation and more often than not I’ve been disappointed over the last couple of decades.

Food at Yan Toh Heen was good but at $150/person… There were a couple of missteps taro ball appeared to have been fried earlier, lukewarm center; one of the dumpling trios had toppled over when it was served… besides the use of luxe ingredients I did not find it 3-4x better than my prior dim sum meals at Lei Garden, Dragon King, Nanhai No. 1. Perhaps 2* when firing on all cylinders some other time. Many have echoed the rating system is not very accurate outside of Europe (perhaps even France)… I’m arriving at that same conclusion… I’m going to try to make a concerted effort to stop chasing stars… unfortunately it still sounds good bragging to your Whatspps, social media circle etc. more SEO friendly too I suppose… and due to still being the most internationally recognized restaurant rating system regardless of its accuracy…


Join the club.

Hi @Sgee -

I knew it was a loaded question :innocent:. My Chinese born uncle mostly ate as you do in L.A. - Mexican, Italian, American. But once in a while he would order a big table at a Chinese restaurant downtown. It was exciting for us kids. For him it was probably a feeling he wanted to recapture - the importance of the customer (not the chef) gracious service and the presentation of dishes. Like you didn’t know the name of the chef at the Michelin star Yan Toh Heen. That’s great, and unheard of here.

Not surprised about the french influence. The glam part of Hong Kong is intriguing. I remember my cousin spent her grad money on a month long trip there. She came back draped in Chanel. But as glam as it was, she also came back with stories of students inviting her to their homes for non-glam family meals. She loved it.

As far as the Michelin rating goes I’m not an expert. But am curious to know people’s thoughts on why it’s failing outside of Europe?

Thanks for the report and responding to my inquisitiveness :slight_smile:.

P.S. Too bad the fishing villages are considered a thing of the past or touristy. Maybe I’m touristy. But I lived on an island as a kid. Fishing villages are my idea of happiness.

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[quote=“Sgee, post:12, topic:4282”]
I know I’m going to get flamed but I don’t get excited with most of the small plate joints in LA, serving food that can be recreated at home without too much difficulty
[/quote]I think you’d be surprised how many people secretly feel the same way. One FTC poster wrote about the trend, saying “I am sick of sharing my food!” It tickled me.

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Seeing this very late–do you recall what the price was?

Whoops–saw it in a later post: $150/person; hmmm.