Honeymoon Part One – Hong Kong

Adam and I got married in May 2017 and so we thought we would write a honeymoon blog on tour.  We were really keen to stay in places with culture, relaxation but also amazing food so we ventured off for a few weeks in Hong Kong and Bali. Here are some of our food highlights – we’ll start with Hong Kong:

 

Tim Ho Wan- North Point

I am obsessed with Dim Sum and to be honest its why I was so keen to come to Hong Kong in the first place and fill my boots with steamed buns.  Tim Ho Wan was less than 5 minutes from our hotel and is famous for being the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants.  There is not the pomp and ceremony that you would usually encounter at a Michelin starred restaurant, you are silently led to a shared table and given a little ticket to tick off your order.

As nothing on the menu was more than £2 we massively over ordered but it was great to try so many delicious little morsels. Our favourites were the fresh shrimp steamed buns (pictured) and the vermicelli roll with beef. These were perfectly seasoned and so juicy and only needed to be finished off with a tiny amount of soy sauce. We also tried the steamed dumplings.

As nothing on the menu was more than £2 we massively over ordered but it was great to try so many delicious little morsels.  Our favourites were the fresh shrimp steamed buns (pictured) and the vermicelli roll with beef.  These were perfectly seasoned and so juicy and only needed to be finished off with a tiny amount of soy sauce.  We also tried the steamed dumplings with chiu chow (pictured), sui mai, steamed spare ribs, steamed beef balls with bean curd skin, steamed rice with beef and egg and baked buns with bbq pork (pictured below).

All were delicious.  There are, as to be expected some differences to what you may find in the UK.  For example, the ribs some in small chunks where the bones have been cut through which means that they can be a bit tricky to eat as there is an extensive amount of cartilage, the minced beef is served quite rare in some cases and the bbq pork buns are sprinkled with sugar making them slightly sweeter than the char sui buns we get at home but the pastry was so crumbly and delicious that we happily ate the lot.

We did also order dessert  but I never have particularly high expectations for desserts in Asia (unless you are in a Hong Kong bakery which we will come to later) and after two mouthfuls of extremely sweet cream I was satisfied that I had tried it and learnt a lesson that we had eaten enough for about 5 people and could not manage another mouthful.

This was all washed down with pur eh tea that was provided on all of the tables. For those of you who are feeling adventurous, there are some local delicacies that you can also try including chicken feet in black bean sauce and congee with century eggs.  I actually suspected that there were two menus, one for locals and one for westerners as there were a few dishes in the restaurant that I couldn’t see on the menu.  Less than an hour after entering Tim Ho Wans and only £25 lighter we rolled back to our hotel satisfied that we had got our dim sum fix.

 

Mugung Hanwoo Beef Specialists- Soho

This is a newly opened Korean BBQ in the heart of Soho. We had originally been in Soho to go to Little Bao (more on that later) but hadn’t realised that it wasn’t open in the day so seeking solace from the heat we were attracted into Mugung Hanwoo for the reasonably priced lunch menu.

The starters were quite simple, Adam had a green salad and it was as written really, though had a lovely dressing so nothing that would blow you away but nice enough.  I had some beef spring rolls which were delicious but more like canapes rather than a starter.

For main Adam chose the beef which was soft and delicious though the accompaniments were a bit dull and not particularly Korean.  I on the other hand, had the Iberico Pork and Kimchi fried rice which I have to say was brilliant.  I haven’t had kimchi before and usually, I am not really a fan of pickled foods but it added a sourness that cut through the fat of the pork perfectly.  I enjoyed it immensely, it made the lunch really.

Dessert, however, was another sickly sweet liquidy thing – though this time it had pine nuts floating on the top and a few grains of rice at the bottom (Adam had no rice but I’m not sure if he was grateful of that fact) but as I said I never hold out much hope for dessert.

Despite some of the disappointing elements it was still a good value lunch at around £11 per head, however, be aware of drinking in Hong Kong, we both had a beer with our lunch and it doubled the bill making it far more expensive than we had planned.

 

Breakfast in Hong Kong- Arome Bakery and Smoko

We decided not to get breakfast in the hotel as we assumed that Hong Kong would be full of places to get a cheap breakfast and we were right.  What I hadn’t realised about Hong kong was its extensive selection of bakeries.  I had heard a lot about Hong Kong egg tarts but didn’t realise that cake was such an important thing in Hong Kong.

We were grateful for this however as on our first day it meant we could get a great cup of coffee and an array of baked goods at Arome Bakery (three in fact with different cheeses and sausage and bacon, we wanted to try them all) for about £6.  On the way back to our hotel on I also noticed this tiny street cafe called Smoko so we thought we would try it out for breakfast the next day.

Smoko was an adorable little window cafe with great artisan coffee in beautifully designed cups and a range of breakfast goodies.  Granted there was no traditional Chinese fare but our morning bagels (smoked salmon and cream cheese and pesto chicken and mozzarella – odd choice yes but it was Adam’s so I have nothing to say about this) were amazing and whilst they didn’t have juice they did have a nice range of organic fruit based soft drinks which did the trick.

Adam even returned later that day to get another coffee (after a miscommunication/language barrier at Aroma Bakery meant he ended up with a matcha latte earlier in the day).  My only regret was that I didn’t have time to try the crab and avocado croissanwich.

 

Little Bao- Soho

I had this on my radar before we flew out and I wasn’t disappointed, Little Bao is probably the restaurant that left the biggest impression on me on our two-week honeymoon.  Little Bao is a tiny restaurant serving Asian burgers or ‘baos’, little pillowy buns with the most enticing fillings.  Chef May Chow had recently been voted Asia’s best female chef 2017 and I had heard rumours that there can be 40-minute queues in the evening so we were really happy when we got a seat straight away though unfortunately it wasn’t at the counter so we could see the food being prepared.

We started with cocktails Adam had a highball (Whiskey and lemon) and I had a sai gua punch (gin, watermelon, cucumber, cinnamon, lemon) both were fabulous but relatively pricey (around £7-£9) so we did nurse them for most of the evening.  The food menu is short but has an adequate amount of choice especially with the additional specials on the board.

We weren’t sure how many dishes to order so asked our extremely helpful waitress who recommended a bao each and 2 or three of the sharing plates.  It was really challenging as everything sounded so delicious, in the end we went for a special of drunken chicken which was super crispy with just the right amount of rice wine flavour and a deliciously creamy mayonnaise on the side.  This was followed up by a generous bowl of truffled fries which was filled with fresh shiitake mushrooms, shiitake tempeh, truffled mayo and pickled daikon.

These were so tasty I almost knocked Adam off his stool so I could finish all of the.  Then came our Baos (they always serve these after the sharing plates), we had gone with the pork belly and the fish tempura.  These were a good size with big portions of meat and fish, both were perfectly seasoned and balanced and were the sorts of flavours that cause involuntary mmmmm noises.  We still had a bit of room left so both had desserts, I went for the salted caramel ice cream bao and adam had the chocolate hazelnut special.  These seem small but they are the perfect size to finish off a meal and were absolutely to die for if not a bit tricky to eat.

Little Bao is quite expensive per dish though we did eat well for £65, but it is worth every penny for the great food, service and atmosphere that is unlike any restaurant we visited on our trip. The only downside of Little Bao was the idiot sitting next to us who smothered all his food in ketchup!

 

The Vegetarian Kitchen- Po Lin Monastery Lantau Island

On our second day, we ventured over to Lantau to see the Tian Tan Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try the Monasteries vegetarian food.  There were two choices either the normal set menu at around £11 each or the deluxe menu about £15 each, there didn’t seem to be much difference so we went for the cheaper option.  The meal started with a clear vegetable soup which was tasty enough with big chunks of pumpkin though there is no way two people could have made a dent in the volume they gave us.

Overall I think we were given enough food to feed about 4 people in total.  The best dishes were the spring rolls with the crunchiest pastry ever and the mushrooms with pak choy.  The other dishes were nice with lots of crunchy vegetables but did contain a lot of tofu and bean curd which can be a little slimy.  This was all washed down with Chinese tea but if I’m honest, any tea that is made with Hong Kong tap water is pretty much undrinkable.

I am glad we went but in hindsight, I think the next door vegetarian cafe where you can choose from a range of dim sum, cakes and noodle dishes may have been better.

 

Ho Lee Fook- Soho

For our last dinner in Hong Kong, we were between Kam’s Roast Goose in Wan Chai and Ho Lee Fook in Soho, this decision was partially made for us as Kam’s had completely sold out of everything my 9 pm so off we went to Soho.  Initially when we entered we were told no more walk-ins but after they heard we had come over especially they offered to serve us if we were happy to stand outside and we were.

Now standing in essentially the street when the weather was threatening rain (5 minutes later we were quite wet) may not sound like the best idea but actually, we had a great time and got chatting to a really friendly couple outside.  There are loads of really great sharing plates on the menu so if you do visit I would recommend ordering a few dishes between you and sharing them so you can try a range of the vegetarian dishes, starters, meat and fish.  We started off with the pork dumplings with sacha soy dressing.

The menu describes these as ‘mostly cabbage little bit of pork’ but we found these generously filled with juicy minced pork and just the right amount of salty soy dressing, I could have easily had 3 more plates of these.  Whilst we were outside our waitress came over with free sake and asked us about our trip.  The service at Ho Lee Fook is impeccable you almost feel like you have made a whole set of new friends (and that’s not just because near the end of the night they ply you with free sake).

I couldn’t leave without trying Hong Kong’s famous roast goose so we ordered a lower quarter and alongside (after a recommendation from the maitre d) the fried cauliflower with brussel sprouts and crispy bacon jam and a portion of prawn fried rice.  As it turned out they had run out of lower quarter goose but actually by good fortune the upper quarter was less fatty, less bony and cheaper than the lower.  This was crispy and delicious with much less fat than you would expect as it had been expertly rendered down and served with a sweet sauce.

The biggest surprise was the cauliflower, I really don’t like brussel sprouts but the combination of smoky cauliflower and salty bacon was amazing and we pretty much licked the plate clean.  The prawn rice was also good and was a good carby dish to compliment the others but wasn’t really as good as the previous three.

Soon after our starters came we were actually offered a table inside.  Had it not been raining we may have stayed outside but we did want to experience the atmosphere inside and so made our way to our table.  Ho Lee Fook is a bit trendy with loud music and low lighting, its worth experiencing but if you are looking for a quiet meal to catch up with friends then this might not be the best place for it.

At the end of the evening after the bill and fortune cookies our waitress brought over a paper bag and said she wanted to give us a gift for our honeymoon and presented us with two Ho Lee Fook glasses which we will treasure.  Our final bill came to about £60 and I would 100% return to try the rest of the menus offerings.  Some may try it because of the name but they will stay for the amazing food and staff.

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