Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Category Archives: Travel: Hong Kong

Hong Kong (2011): Tim Ho Wan – Cheapest 1 Michelin-starred Restaurant

I wish I could say that I’m almost done with my Hong Kong posts, but I’m not. I just happened to have gotten the easier ones out of the way first.

I put this one off for quite a while because I’ve been pacing back and forth restlessly, mulling over how best to present to you the cheapest 1-Michelin starred restaurant on the face of the planet. Should I wax lyrical? Burst into colourful prose? Throw around a several handfuls of hyperboles?

So I sat back down, and sighed, and decided I’ll do the usual boring thing of letting pictures speak for themselves. I know, how very original of you Christine.

You see, at other places there are queues, and then at Tim Ho Wan there are queues.

Now if I had been ill-prepared, thinking I could skip into a Michelin-starred restaurant without reservation and without even going early, then I very much deserved to squat in the line.

But we were early. We knew there would be a wait, and that the queues were legendary, so we got up at the crack of dawn, and found ourselves at the back of a queue anyway – at 9.15am, 45 minutes before the shop even opened at 10. No reservations allowed.

They have another outlet, but rumour has it that this original outlet is still the best.

The rest of the 45 minutes was spent lolling around in the summer heat, and as luck would have it, when it opened, every single person in front of us fit into the tiny shop, except for us. Only 20 people in at a go. Can you imagine that?! We passed the next half an hour slobbering with our faces plastered to the glass windows watching everyone else eat. It was excruciating. The lady staff outside passed us a slip of the menu in English, in what I think was pity, and we calmed down enough to order.

You can leave to walk around once you have taken your queue number, but if you’re not around when they call for you, your table goes to the next number. No way we were risking that.

Read more of this post

Hong Kong 2011: Yee Shun Milk Company

I live in a family whose cooking is predominantly Cantonese, even if it isn’t my dialect group. Heck, I even know more about Cantonese cuisine than Hakka (which is strictly – sadly –  confined to Suan Pan Zi/Abacus balls). The dishes that appear in my home pretty much run the gamut from all variants of steamed dishes, to wholesome desserts, only stopping short from anything spectacularly roasted. Notice that I said ‘spectacularly’, because roasting, while possible with an oven, just isn’t the same when it’s not done the expert way (whatever that is). So Siu Ngor (roast goose), Siu Yok (roast pork), and Siu Ngap (roast duck), have unfortunately eluded us. But today’s not a day for roasting woes because, as you can see, I’m determined to finish off the posts of my Hong Kong trip in 2011 (last year, gasp!).

Let’s talk about desserts.

Tong Sui (any kind of soupy dessert/custard in the Cantonese cuisine) was what I grew up with. Desserts like Beancurd Skin Soup with Barley and Gingko Nuts, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup, Papaya and White Fungus Soup? Pfft! We make them with our eyes closed! Now steamed egg/milk puddings however, that’s another story. The ingredients are simple, but the technique and process are tedious. Trust me, I’ve had my good share of watery, lumpy, sludgy ‘custards’ during our experimentations. I shiver at the thought.

Read more of this post

Hong Kong 2011: Mak’s Noodle

You’ll never have wanton noodles like Mak’s Noodle. This place has its own Wikipedia page, and that says a lot.

As a general rule, wanton noodles in Hong Kong are a force to be reckoned with. Why? I have no idea. That’s just how things work there.

Of course, things work a little different for me if you tell me that a particular eatery has graced the palate of Anthony Bourdain (one of my all-time favourite food idols with his sharp wit and callously poetic narratives on TV). In fact, there was a newspaper clipping under the glass of the table of Bourdain’s visit to Mak’s. There’s no other better reassurance of great food like slurping up a bowl of wanton noodles under (or above, actually) his trademark blasé gaze. But Bourdain aside, Mak’s Noodle has been around for ages, and is usually on the list of most gluttons’ food itinerary for the land of roast goose, egg tarts, congee, and dim sum.

I’ll let the picture say it all, except for the size. The bowl’s tiny. Really. Tiny enough for this to be a snack and for you to then head on down Wellington street for more goodies to come. It’s about 10cm in diameter, by my guesstimate (I used my palm for measurement, and I have a small palm). It’s not cheap for its size, but it’s worth every cent. I can’t quite remember exactly how much it costs but it’s around SGD$5 for a small bowl. I’d pay gladly if this were available freely in Singapore.

Read more of this post

Hong Kong 2011: Wai Kee Congee Shop – Best You Tiao

The thing about Hong Kong is, unless you’re hitting the Michelin-starred restaurants and fine-dining establishments, you’re hardly likely to exhaust your wallet. A bowl of congee costs around 10HKD, which is less than $3SGD. The bottom-line is, you can happily drown yourself in a vat of congee and still have enough moolah for all the you tiaos to accompany your wanton gluttony.

Take Wai Kee Congee Shop for example (I actually didn’t know what it was called in English, and kept referring it to the Last You Tiao You Should Eat Before You Die shop). Enter any congee shop in Hong Kong and you can be sure to get velvety, smooth, and very tasty porridge for any meal. The yao jak guai (you tiao/ dough fritters) at Wai Kee however, may induce the kind of rabid addiction enough to grab the shelves of glistening golden dough fritters and make a break for it.

Wai Kee Congee Shop is located at the end of Stanley Street, and it took me a good 10 minutes of walking back and forth in front of the shop trying to discern if this flourescent-lit, slightly shabby-looking eatery was really it.

But we were hungry, we entered anyway, and struck jackpot.

Read more of this post