Friday, November 11, 2011

Hong Kong: The things we ate

Eating was good in Hong Kong.  We had a tendency to eat a big, late lunch every day, and to supplement that main meal with breakfast in our hotel room and a snack-sized dinner.

For breakfasts, we had lots of gorgeous ripe dragon fruits.

Bananas, which was a nice change after coming from Australia where they were, at that point, still $12 a kilo.

And we ate a lot of bread and (no frills) peanut butter.

And all of this was made possible thanks to the awesome spoons we bought.

Lunches were nothing short of amazing.  On our first day, we (eventually) managed to find M Garden, in Mongkok, which had a huge menu.  We were pretty hungry, so we ordered lots.

Smoked goose rolls, which were veggies rolled up in yuba skin.

Vegan sashimi - Andy thought this might be interesting, and it was, but not in a way that either of us would order again.  It was basically a salty agar jelly, which tasted ever so slightly of the sea.

Salt and pepper vegan pork, crunchy and greasy and salty and oh my.

And BBQ 'suckling pig' with steamed buns.  Yeah, it's totally weird to think about eating suckling pig, even if it doesn't contain any animal products.  But, I'm a sucker for steamed buns, and Andy is a sucker for BBQ.  So we ordered this, and I'm glad we did.  It was really delicious, with crunchy mock meat, tangy five spice BBQ sauce, and fluffy buns.

We also visited Kung Tak Lam in One Peking Tower, a fancier-feeling place in Kowloon with beautiful views over the Harbour towards Hong Kong Island as we ate.  I didn't take any photos at this meal (because I forgot, I think).  But, we had two main meals and some yum cha.  The mains were Veggie Chicken with cashews & spicy sauce, and Mushrooms on a sizzling plate.  This was very impressive - they poured the sauce over the mushrooms at the table, so it was all sizzly and the sauce got sticky.  We also ordered spring rolls, vegetarian steamed buns, and a silverthread bun, which was kind of sweet.  All of this costed us AU$31.  So, whoo!

Another lunch was at the Chi Lin Vegetarian Tea House, within the grounds of the Nan Lian Garden.  I didn't take photos there, because there was a sign saying 'no photos'.  Boo.  We ordered the five dish set menu, and I'm not sure we got everything we paid for, but we were full at the end of the meal.  There was battered & deep fried eggplant (which proved difficult for two novice chop stickers to pick up), enoki mushrooms with greens, bean curd in spicy sauce, yuba wraps filled with Chinese amaranth, and shredded potatoes with seasonal veggies.  The meal was really good, but in a very different way to most of the food we ate.  It felt healthy, and was more about natural flavours rather than sticky sauces.

Our final big meal in Hong Kong was at the Po Lin Monastery, at the base of the Big Buddha.  There were two set menu options - we opted for the Deluxe, for HK$120, or AU$15.  As an added bonus, if you pre-buy a meal ticket you get to go up to the highest pedestal and get views like this:
That meal started with a very interesting soup, which had shreds of mushrooms and yuba, and instead of being brothy was kind of gooey.  This makes it sound not good, but it was amazing.  I willfully ignored the 'no photos' sign and snapped the soup, but Andy guilted me into putting my camera away after the first course.
The rest of the meal was braised lettuce with shiitake mushrooms; mixed veggies with cashews; spring rolls; and lemon bean curd, which was food from the gods.  The lemon sauce was so sweet, tart, and morish.  I really couldn't get enough.  All up, this may have been the best meal we had, except that we were so close to the air conditioner which was on full blast, so the food all went cold before we got to taste it all.

Our dinners were much less exciting.  We found some vegan kimchi flavoured instant noodles, which we cooked in the hotel microwave.

We frequented a street stall selling yummy fried tofu.

And on the last night, we made an exciting discovery.  About 10 metres from our hotel was a small, hole-in-the-wall vegetarian restaurant.  If only we had found it earlier.  We went for dinner before our flight, but we were still a bit full from our massive meal at the Big Buddha.  So instead of ordering from the menu, we picked some tasty-looking morsels from the window at the front.  Andy ordered, while I sat with our stuff and felt tired - hot chose spring rolls, BBQ pork steam buns, spinach dumplings, and a plate with tofu, eggplant and capsicum.  We assumed that the food from the window would be freshened up, or cooked somehow, and this was the case for the dumplings and the buns which had to be steamed.  And the tofu & veggie plate was heated in the microwave... but the spring rolls came out cold.  And they weren't very good.  After starting to eat, Andy felt hungry for a proper-sized dinner, so he ordered a second round: steamed spinach bunns, broccoli dumplings, and a plate with four kinds of veggie meat made of yuba and gluten with different flavours.  And, for dessert, some sweet steamed buns.  This was so much food, and we were way too full.  And I ended up feeling sick for the whole 13 hour flight out of Hong Kong, which I put down to the spring rolls.

Aside from that veggie place next door, the other great find of our trip was mochi.  I know this isn't a new thing to a lot of people, but neither Andy nor I had tried it before.  But we fell in love.  We started with peanut, and liked it so much that we bought sesame and red bean as well, and then fresh mochi whenever we found it on the street.  So. good.

I don't think I've ever eaten so well (and so cheaply!) as I had in Hong Kong...


Kari said...

Ah, those bananas! Amazing. I dream of the day they're $3/kg or some such again here (and I didn't even care about them that much before - definitely a case of absence makes the heart grow fonder!).

Hannah said...

Just so you know, that exact same mochi is available in Australia (at least, in Canberra). I'm mildly addicted to the black sesame one, and even blogged about it once :P

So glad Hong Kong was deliciousness-indeed for you! I still haven't been able to try dragonfruit here...

Susan said...

I've seen that mochi in Asian grocery stores around my house. I can send some up when I send up some Sheese, if you like. :)

I have been loving your adventures. My parents go to Hong Kong a fair but, but being omnis they never have vegan food stories to share.