Monday, September 21, 2015

Hong Kong in September and Some Restaurants (New and Old)

So, as you have gathered by now, we are back in Hong Kong and September has turned out to be a relatively slow month for us.  There was a new public holiday implemented on September 3rd just for this year, and then we are heading into Mid-Autumn festival and Golden week holidays before you know it.

We came back and I was once again shocked anew by the pace of change and frenetic activity in this city.  I feel as if the entire Hong Kong island is under construction.  Jackhammers and drills pound and squeal nonstop, ghoul like buildings shrouded in scaffolding and netting loom against the skyline, and the noise - the incessant noise!
When did this happen?
Perhaps nothing demonstrates the pace of change better than the ridiculous turnover of restaurants.  I have not been venturing out into the Soho neighborhood much this summer, but upon my return I was just blown away by the number of venues that have been replaced, and the number of new restaurants that have arrived, and the number of stores that are now under construction in anticipation of new businesses arriving.

Since coming back, I've eaten out a few times, whether with Michael or friends, and hit up some new restaurants as well as some old favorites.

Beer & Fish, a new restaurant located at 67 Staunton Street in Soho:
When we were out that night we bumped into a friendly, drunk couple from Montreal who were so excited that we were from New York and helped us score a free beer to go because we were just married.
They serve (surprise) a bunch of craft beers, including a few from Hong Kong, such as this gwei lo ale that we tried, and they also offer growlers for purchase.
 The decor is fun - all tile and amber bottles.

 My fish and chips - I got the small portion.  It doesn't look like much but it's quite tasty.  The two pieces of fish sticks were actually perfectly lightly battered and the fish itself was fresh, flaky and hot.  I doused my chips in so much malt vinegar that it puckered my lips. 
 Uncle Padak, a very popular Korean fried chicken joint on 59 High Street in Sai Ying Pun:
 The creamed corn (like a corn version of mac n' cheese) and their egg pancake (topped with mayonnaise and ketchup) were both okay.  I would rate them mediocre.
 But the fried chicken... wow!  We got a split platter of regular style (the honey brown chicken on the left) and then a sweet and spicy version (the lighter colored chicken with sauce on the right).  So good.  It was not greasy, the batter was very light, and it was so flavorful. 

Michael and I went to Butcher's Club Burger at 112-114 Wellington St. for dinner one night, getting a hamburger, duck fat fries and an ice cream sandwich (said sandwich goes unpictured because we ate it too quickly).


As with most things in Hong Kong, I would argue that it is too pricey - this burger is quite small and it comes with nothing and it costs HK$100!  I had to take a picture because it's hilarious on what a huge cutting board they chose to serve the burger.
However, also to give credit where credit is due - it is a pretty tasty burger.
Their duck fat fries, for an additional HK$30.
I also went to Check in Taipei, located at 27 Hollywood Road with a friend recently - just wanted to check it out as it has been on Hollywood street for a while (far exceeding my expectations of its life span).  It was a fun spot and the dishes were innovative, but I don't know that I would go back again.

They are known for their "innovative" cocktails, which seem to involve a lot of tea infusions.  My friend ordered this mocktail, a winter melon slush drink with huge tapioca pearls:

 We ordered their mushroom forest, which is surrounded by fried chunks of fish and a soft boiled egg:
 Chicken and waffles Taiwanese style, which is a fried piece of chicken atop a small waffle with a layer of chopped pineapple layered in between.  The fried chicken was divine, the waffle could have been more moist and fluffy, and I could have done without the pineapple entirely.  The plate comes with four pieces.
 We tried the ping pong balls, served on a ping pong paddle (how typically cutesy) which were actually purple yam mochi balls.  Despite the presentation, however, I thought this was a disappointment - I liked the chewy texture but it lacked flavor overall.
 This was the ma po tofu noodles.  It was not too spicy.  I liked the idea and I really wanted to like this dish, but I think it came up a little short on execution.  The tofu was very hard and lacked flavor - likely they needed to stew the tofu itself for a while longer to make sure it absorbed all the flavors.  The noodles were a little bit too al dente.  Otherwise, it had a nice peppercorn zing that hit the tongue in a nice slow delayed aftertaste.

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