Hey there! I’ve noticed a lot of new followers lately, so welcome! I’m glad you’re here. I started blogging in 2012, to document my journey of living abroad. Despite occasional attempts to focus on specific subject matters over the years, I always come back to the personal blog format: I write about myself and the stuff I think is worth sharing. I thought it would be fun to reflect on this crazy journey by re-posting some of my favorite posts over the years. Check back every Thursday for #tbt (throw back thursdays) posts! I hope you enjoy.
Originally Posted: August 3, 2012
I recently took my first trip back to the states since moving here last November. Aside from seeing friends and family (and buying shoes that fit my size 13 feet, which aren’t available in Hong Kong), I ATE!! In fact, I created an itinerary to ensure I hit all my favorite places. Even though I can’t get dishes like Chicken Fried Steak, Carne Asada or a bottomless bowl of chips and salsa in Hong Kong, I have discovered many new amazing dishes.
I love dim sum! In fact, I may have said once or twice that it has replaced CFS as my new favorite comfort food. Dim sum refers to a style of Chinese food prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Eating dim sum at a restaurant is usually referred in Cantonese as going to “drink tea” (pronounced Yum Cha), as tea is always served with dim sum. Yum Cha is typically something locals do on Sunday mornings with family. However, you can find places that serve dim sum for dinner too.
My favorite place for dim sum is Sing Yin, at The W Hotel. They have all-you-can-eat every weekend morning from 9:30-11:00am. In most dim sum restaurants, you have to wait for a steamer trolley to make its way to your table and it may or may not have what you like. I normally can’t get dim sum in my mouth fast enough, which is why I like Sing Yin. I can walk in and immediately order one of everything on the menu (hey- it’s all-you-can-eat!). Before I know it, I am surrounded by pure delights!
Another great place for dim sum is King’s Palace. I’ve been going to King’s Palace for years in China. I was thrilled to discover one within walking distance of my home in Causeway Bay. King’s Palace is very casual (absolutely no English, but the menu has pictures for pointing) and exceptionally good!
At least once a week I bring home bbq pork from The MX. I’m normally not intimidated going to places that don’t speak English, but after leaving empty-handed too many times, I finally had my order added on my iPhone in Cantonese. Now all I have to do is walk in, flash my phone to the server and chop, chop- I have pork!
Another one of my favorite discoveries is Hong Kong style tea. Although, it will never replace my Starbucks black eye (bold coffee with two shots of espresso) I do enjoy having a cup every once in while. Hong Kong tea (also referred to as Milk Tea) is a black tea with evaporated milk or condensed milk. I prefer the evaporated milk version and as luck may have it, after a few minutes of charades- that’s what I get! Hong Kong tea is usually a part of lunch in the local tea culture.
Restaurant etiquette (or what first appeared to be a lack of) was a bit hard to understand at first. You are normally greeted at the door and walked to your table. However, your server (which you don’t have just one) will not approach your table until you raise your hand and wave for attention. You may feel like you’re back in pre-school having to raise your hand, but it’s required or you will never be served. You don’t have to worry about locating your original server- you can wave at anyone working and they will help you. One day at lunch I finished my meal and I had to finally wave to get someone to remove my plate. I presumed the check would appear shortly, but I was wrong. I sat for nearly 20 minutes before I was forced to wave again. As soon as I waved, immediately someone stopped and actually asked what I needed. Crazy! I took that moment to ask him a few questions. I learned servers will never approach a table without an invitation (the waving of the hand), as to them it appears rude and suggests rushing you. Funny, right? In the states waving is considered rude and if you ask someone other than your server for something, that person will not deliver your request, but rather will inform your server you need something.
As for your check, the server will not leave it on the table. They will stand and wait for you to pay. I still hate this! Once they return with your credit card, they will wait again! After signing, they will neatly fold the receipt and present, along with your credit card, with both hands and take a small bow in thanks.
As for prices, Hong Kong is relatively a pricy place to dine out. On a very tight budget, you can manage on about HKD$300 ($40 USD) per day. But it takes a great deal of self-discipline. However, I just think about the money I’m saving with public transportation and all works out in the end.
Overall, food in Hong Kong is great! If it weren’t for all the walking I do, I know I would have gained weight by now. I’ll admit I do miss simple in-and-out places like Café Express, Chipotle, Pei Wei and Corner Bakery. And I’m not ashamed to admit I MISS FAST FOOD! I would give anything for a Chick-fil-a (although after recent news I wouldn’t be going there anymore anyway…), Taco Bueno, Sonic, Chicken Express… okay, I have to stop.
Even though I miss my old favorites, here are a few of my new favorite top eateries in Hong Kong, in no particular order. (updated 2015)
Shore (Cheese Burger / Frites)
Al Dente (Chicken Piccata)
Restoration (Crabmeat Cheesecake / Stuffed Blackened Catfish)
Roger’s Room / Chicha’s (Steak Tacos / Chicken Satays)
La Creperie (La Complete Galette / Eckmuhl Galette)
Pizza Express (Alba Pizza)
Sing Yin (BBQ Pork Buns / Soup Dumplings)
Wagyu Lounge (Pulled BBQ Pork Sandwich / Frites)
The Peak Cafe Bar (Soho location) (Pad Thai)
The Brickhouse (Fish Tacos / Beetroot Frites)
Dim Sum Square (Shumai / BYOB)
Oolaa (Breakfast Pizza)
Interesting Hong Kong food facts:
Hong Kongers consume over 900 million cups of Hong Kong tea annually.
It is customary to order dim sum for the entire table, not for each individual.
Chopstick Etiquette- Before you ask “why do I have all these chopsticks?”, the set furthest out from your plate is for transferring food from the communal dishes onto your plate, the set closest to your plate are for eating.
When tea is being poured, you’ll see locals take their first two fingers on their right hand and tap 3 times on the table near the cup. It’s a long story, but in short it means thank you.
As with everything in Hong Kong, you must plan ahead. Reservations are always required.
Gratuity is normally included on your bill. I normally will leave the coins if paid by cash. More is never expected, but I will leave HKD$10-$100 if the service was exceptional. However, since servers don’t expect additional tips, don’t expect exceptional service!