jeanniebayb


A Perth Foodie's Adventures in Hong Kong

"Tell me what you eat and I'll tell you who you are" - Brillat-Savarin


Stuffed suckling pig @ Kimberley Chinese Restaurant, Hong Kong
jeanniebayb
Hong Kong streets are inundated with the sights of roast whole chicken, ducks and geese hanging behind the windows of siu mei-style shops and restaurants, but I don't think I've ever seen a roast whole suckling pig before. Roast pork, char siu and other pork dishes are usually already cut into pieces when served, which helps make it easier not to conjure up images of Babe when eating pork. When I read about the stuffed suckling pig on this food blog, I knew that we would be making our way to Kimberley Chinese Restaurant soon. It was meant to be. I mean, what are the chances that I would check out a certain blog that I hadn't looked at for ages, read a post about a dining experience in Hong Kong (the blogger is a Singaporean who had made a trip to HK), discover that the restaurant is actually quite nearby us, and also needing to find a place for dinner for a group of 6? We don't often get the opportunity to eat in a group big enough to eat a pig, and a hearty Chinese meal seemed like the perfect option for a get-together dinner with Rob's dad and family, shortly after my dad arrived in Hong Kong on the night before they returned to Australia.

The restaurant itself was nothing spectacular - just another Chinese restaurant inside a rather unremarkable hotel situated a little away from the main street. It may not be fancy or special, but we received wonderful service from the cheerful manager who was particularly cordial and helpful. The other waitstaff don't speak or understand much English, and we were so grateful for my dad's linguistic ability in Cantonese (and several other Chinese dialects).

Little piggy!

The restaurant's specialty is the Suckling Pig Stuffed with Sticky Rice, which requires advance booking and a deposit payment at least one day prior. And it is quite special - the suckling pig was deboned with innards removed, stuffed with glutinous rice and then slow-roasted to a perfect crisp. This dish was incredibly rich and definitely not for those on low-fat diets. Even the glutinous rice was heavy, having absorbed some of the fatty porcine juices. One slice was almost too much for me!



We also ordered half a Roast Goose, which was fabulous. More meat, less fat and more flavourful than the more readily available duck.

Roast Goose:

The manager recommended the Grouper, which was prepared two ways: the flesh fried with garlic, and the fins and tail fried then braised in a claypot. I loved both, but the braised fins and tail proved a little too challenging for Rob and his family, and my dad and I had the whole claypot to ourselves.

Grouper with garlic - the best way to enjoy fish! Zak loved the steamed broccoli:

The braised fins and tail were delicious!

It was a good dinner, but we had a lot of the suckling pig left over, which we took home with us and the three of us ate it over the following two days. I would love to go back to this restaurant to try out other dishes.

Cobb Loaf Dip
jeanniebayb
Last night at dinner, my friend said I should post up more recipes online because I cook a lot at home. I would love to, if only I have the time! Writing a blog takes up more time than most people think it does, and it requires a certain level of commitment and dedication because it's something that I do for free. Anyway, that conversation reminded me that I had promised to post up a recipe of a yummy Cobb Loaf Dip that I made for Christmas. I first encountered the cobb dip almost 10 years ago at a family gathering at Rob's aunt's place, to celebrate Australia Day and to view the fireworks (she has a grand fantastic view of the Swan River, and the perfect place to watch the annual Skyshow). When I saw the cobb dip, I remember thinking that it was a brilliantly ingenious idea to use a hollowed out cobb loaf as an edible bowl for the dip. It was delicious and very popular, and Rob's cousin said it was the easiest thing to make. It has taken me only about 10 years to make my first cobb dip, in a country where I couldn't find any cobb loaves! I had long forgotten Rob's cousin's recipe, so I had to turn to good ol' Google to help me. Two things stood out to me while researching recipes. The first was that the cobb dip must be an Aussie recipe because the search yielded results from Australian websites and forums. The second thing that stood out to me was how calorie-laden and fattening the recipes were, featuring sour cream, cream cheese AND cheese as well as powdered packet soup mix of some sort. When I play host, I do feel a certain responsibility to serve tasty but healthy food to my guests, so I decided to make a healthier version of the cobb dip for Christmas (it would have been more healthy if the supermarket hadn't run out of spinach). It was very popular, and our Japanese guests had never seen anything like it before. There were no leftovers - the best compliment I could get.



Cobb Loaf Dip

Ingredients
1 cobb loaf (or, in my situation, a square loaf)
5 rashers bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
250g cream cheese, softened to room temperature
250g yoghurt

Method
1. Fry bacon and onion and garlic until cooked.
2. Combine with cream cheese and yoghurt.
--I prepared the dip filling the night before (storing it in the refrigerator) so that I could quickly assemble it the next day--
3. Remove top of loaf and scoop out middle.
4. Pour dip into loaf, place top back on and cook for 20 mins at 180degC.
5. Tear up removed bread and cook with loaf for last 10mins.

Mexican @ Café Iguana, Hong Kong
jeanniebayb
Did you know that the traditional Mexican cuisine was recently added to UNESCO's list of the world's Intangible Cultural Heritage? There is so much more to this cuisine than the stereotypical cheesy and greasy nachos and quesadillas found everywhere, and real Mexican food is something I could only learn to appreciate after moving out of Perth. In fact, I used to think I disliked Mexican food due to the poor Mexican food scene in Perth, but I only had to try a few Mexican restaurants in Japan and New York to realise that there is a lot to like about the cuisine. At the end of our day out at HK Disneyland a few weeks ago, instead of putting up with another mediocre meal inside Disneyland, we opted to head out somewhere closer to home for dinner. It fell upon us to decide choose a restaurant to bring our family to, so we headed to the Mexican restaurant at the mall near our apartment. We chose Mexican since it seems everyone loves Mexican food, and we wanted everyone to be happy. We'd been to Café Iguana before, so we already knew that the food would be good.

A nice large mound of Nachos to share while we decided on what to eat. It was polished off soon after it was served:

My 14-year-old step-bro-in-law ordered the Tex Mex Burger, which he exclaimed as the best food he had eaten during his holiday so far:

Rob got the Fajitas which came served on a neat little tray with a drawer that hid the tortillas. Condiments included sour cream, refried beans, guacamole and salsa:

My father-in-law and wife ordered the Beef Enchiladas (previously blogged about) and the Pizza Pockets (pasta pockets filled with braised beef and topped with smoked tomatoes and Asadero cheese), both of which got the thumbs up. I wanted something light so I ordered an appetiser (Ceviche) and the Caesar Salad (with dressing on the side), both also pretty good.

Ceviche came with corn chips which I happily gave away to more hungry guys at the table:

The Caesar Salad was impressively served in a large taco shell. The spiced grilled chicken was delicious:

For dessert, the sweet-toothed in our company ordered one each, and I got a taste of all three. Everyone had different tastes, so each dessert got different reactions depending on who was eating it. The desserts came in pretty big portions, and I know that I definitely would not be able to finish one plate on my own. The Semolina Pudding was pretty good, as I already know from last time. I enjoyed the Pecan Pie which was not too sweet, had a lovely nutty filling and a nice crusty base. The Key Lime Pie was also quite nice, but the meringue topping was very sweet (my step-mother-in-law loved this one).

Pecan Pie:

Key Lime Pie:

This was a pretty successful dinner because everyone was satisfied with the food. A good way to end a good day.

Yum cha @ Luk Yu Teahouse, Hong Kong
jeanniebayb
Is it bad if your waiter stops you from ordering more food because he thinks you have ordered too much already? That was precisely what happened when we had yum cha at Luk Yu Teahouse with my father-in-law and his family during their visit to Hong Kong a few weeks ago. Mind you, we already had eaten a fair number of dim sum dishes when we tried to order more, and the waiter was probably just trying to be responsibly helpful when he advised that we shouldn't need to order any more dishes. We were, after all, at a teahouse and not a restaurant, where we should be enjoying the tea and not stuffing our faces with food. We had been to Luk Yu once before a few months ago, and in spite of a couple of bad first impressions (brusque service by surly men in their 50s and 60s, and a very limited food menu), the food was amongst the best dim sum we've ever had. It was good enough reason to bring our overseas visitors there for a yum cha experience in a traditional setting. In fact, we went to Luk Yu another time less than 2 weeks later with my dad who had also come to HK for a short trip. Both revisits to the teahouse confirmed that Luk Yu Teahouse serves up consistently good dim sum dishes, and as long as the food is good, I'll be happy to put up with the surly service.

First re-visit with Rob's dad & family

We were seated on the second floor, and I found that the waiters on this floor were slightly more affable than the guys on the third floor. The menu changes weekly so I was disappointed to find that I could not order my favourite dish from the first visit (Mashed Dates Cake), however, there were plenty of different dishes to try that day. We had less adventurous eaters in our group, so we stayed safe and ordered the usual suspects like Charsiu bao (BBQ pork bun - a clear favourite), Beef meatballs, Hargow (shrimp dumpling) and of course Egg tarts (another clear winner). We also got a few not-so-usual items like Chinese sausage and dried shrimp in glutinous rice, Chicken dumpling in chicken broth and Mashed lotus nuts & pumpkin dough which are pictured below. Everyone was still hungry after the first round but when we tried ordering more, the guy serving our table said he would ask the kitchen to whip up some Fried Rice and Fried Noodles which were probably a healthier way to fill up with than on those delicious but artery-clogging dim sum morsels. These turned out to be pretty good, but it did seem a little bit of a shame to fill up on dishes you can get everywhere else.

Pan-fried radish cake with BBQ pork - very tasty with slightly charred bits contrasting the soft texture:

Glutinous rice with lap cheong (Chinese sausage) and dried shrimps - delicious with small bits of lap cheong that helped flavour the rice but not overpower it:

Chicken dumpling in chicken broth - surprisingly good with a yummy broth that is bursting with umami flavour:

Fried Rice:

Fried Noodles:

Fried dough with lotus seed paste and pumpkin - this could have worked better in a less greasy setting:


Second revisit with my dad

About two weeks later, we came back to Luk Yu with my dad after a trip to HK Park. We were sent to the third floor of the teahouse where we got to once again experience the not-so-wonderful service by the ever-grumpy old guys who work this floor. The menu was different again, and I was delighted to see my beloved Mashed dates cakes on the menu! We ordered a relatively more modest amount of 8 dishes which filled all three of us up quite well. All the dim sum were pretty good, but the highlight (for me, anyway) was spotting the Jumbo-size chicken bun on the menu which turned out to be quite similar to the da bao I grew up eating in Malaysia, right down to the quarter (or was it half?) of a boiled egg in the filling.

Steamed rice with duck meat wrapped in lotus leaves - sort of like lo mai gai but with normal rice instead of glutinous rice, and with duck instead of chicken. Works well, but not as good as lo mai gai:

(Clockwise from bottom right) Dried mushroom & chicken roll, Chinese ham & chicken pie, and Mashed fish & radish cake - all were done very well, and the pie and roll confirmed the fact that Luk Yu does baked pastries, both sweet and savoury, really well:

Steamed items: Jumbo-size chicken bun and Hargow (shrimp dumpling). We always order the hargow, and it has always been consistently good:

Showing the fluffy soft bun and the innards of the jumbo chicken bun:


The Mashed dates cake still ranked as my favourite of them all. It was still warm from the oven, the pastry gave a delicious slight crunch to reveal the gorgeous date filling, and it found a happy spot in my tummy. It could be my imagination, but this one tasted better than the one I had last time. The Egg tart is a close second. Egg tarts are plentiful in Hong Kong, but most are not worth wasting your calories on (so far, we have found only one other place whose egg tart rivals that of Luk Yu, but is very pricey).

Delicious sweet dim sum - Dates cake and Egg tarts:


We just farewelled the last of our overseas visitor (for the moment) so I should be able to update my journal a bit more regularly and catch up on a backlog of photos I took over the last month. Plenty more to come!

HK Disneyland and Ocean Park
jeanniebayb
I am normally too cynical to get even remotely excited about the cuteness overload of Disneyland, yet somehow the experience is a little different when you bring along a little one. Mind you, our first and only other experience at Tokyo Disneyland almost exactly three years ago left a lot to be desired (note: never go to Disneyland on a New Year holiday, especially in a country where cute rules even in adults). Although our 2 year old doesn't watch much TV and only knows the Pooh Bear characters, he had a blast on the rides, watching the shows and receiving lots of attention from his visiting granddad, yiayia and uncle at Hong Kong Disneyland. Even someone like me can appreciate the attention to detail applied to everything to make the Disneyland experience - as corny as it sounds - "magical". I just love watching Zak's enthralled expression towards all the bright colours, happy sounds and Disney characters - and that, for me, is what makes it magical.

The Disney-themed Disneyland Resort Line:

A large fountain near Disneyland's entrance featuring Mickey Mouse surfing the water squirting out of a whale's blowhole:

Rob and Zak seriously dwarfed by this humungous Christmas tree:

My little boy and I in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle:

There were several snack carts and quick service stalls in Disneyland, but only three places that does a proper table service. We headed over to the Corner Cafe for a proper sit-down meal, and had to wait about 30 minutes for a table. Sure enough, the dining area was crowded, and service was a little sporadic. The main course arrived very soon after the entrees were placed on the table, and then it was a good 20 minute wait for the desserts after we finished with the mains. The food was rather unimpressive, although it was nice that they put a little effort into the presentation. The price wasn't too bad, about HK$130 per person for a three course meal - any more and we would have felt ripped off. Rob and I chose the Christmas menu where there were two or three choices for each course, and we were careful to select different ones so that we could have more variety.

Some kind of tomato-based soup, complete with a Mickey Mouse-shaped crouton:

Smoked turkey and watermelon salad - pretty good:

Smoked duck with dark cherry sauce - not too bad, definitely better than the fish option (see below):

Duo of salmon and sole with herbed butter - this dish tasted old, like it had been sitting somewhere for a while and then reheated. The sole fillet had a crumb coating with slivered almonds which had the potential to be a good dish, but it was stale. That disc of herbed butter did absolutely nothing to improve the dish and went largely ignored:

Waffle with cream:

Christmas cake that had two layers (chocolate mousse and a flavour I've forgotten) and topped with a lime-flavoured white chocolate. This was so-so:

HK Disneyland is the smallest Disneyland park, so it was possible to do most of the stuff and leave around 6pm without feeling like we missed out a lot. It is definitely not as popular as the Tokyo one, so thankfully we didn't have to deal with much crowd and ridiculously long queues. Thank you Liz for watching Zak during his nap and taking him to a show while the rest of us kiddies got on the big kids' rides.

We caught the end of the Christmas parade:

The Aussie display in the South Seas room of the It's a Small World boat ride:


A couple of days after our trip to Disneyland, we headed for Ocean Park, but the 2 year old had woken up on the wrong side of the bed that day and we had a crappy start to the day. We didn't do much at the park before stopping for an early lunch just so the boy could just finally have his nap and give us all a break from his grumpiness. At least his granddad, yiayia and uncle now knows that he is no little angel! Unlike Disneyland, there were more thrilling rides at Ocean Park, and thanks again to Liz for watching Zak while us big kiddies went on the scary rides.

The oceanside ocean-themed amusement and marine park:

Lunch was from a quick-service station that offered a variety of asian and western-style food. Rob got the combo charsiu (barbecued pork) and roast duck, and I got the combo charsiu with soy sauce chicken. Not much to talk about, but it did the job of filling our tums:

A show featuring dolphins and seals:

The day out at Ocean Park had potential to be good fun, but I was only too glad when we were finally home and Zak was in bed. It's amazing how a child's temperament can make or break a day out anywhere with them!

Work holiday party @ Shore Restaurant + Bar, Hong Kong
jeanniebayb
Who were we kidding when we dragged our 2 year old along to Rob's work Christmas dinner party a couple of weeks ago? Neither of us could relax and socialise with our hands full with a toddler who was neither used to going out at night nor dealing with a room full of adults in a semi-dark environment with loud music. Much to our disappointment, our usually placid and pleasant boy was frequently a screaming tantrum-chucking uncooperative little monster that evening, and I believe that Zak's cuteness was our saving grace and the reason why we weren't kicked out of the party and restaurant before we'd decided to make an early departure.

The party was at Shore Restaurant + Bar, a newly opened venue in Central that is the epitome of chic and cool. Yes, we felt sorely out of place arriving with a pram and laden with toddler supplies, but the wait staff were totally smitten with the only toddler on the floor. Staff were friendly and attentive (it helped that it's a new restaurant so our group didn't have to compete with any regular clientele), and the food were pretty tasty! We left just as dessert was being served, but I liked everything from the salad table to the main course. I particularly enjoyed the creamy Roasted Chestnut Soup which was really tasty and rich with the beloved chestnut flavour.

Half of the salad table - my favourites were the Nicoise Salad and the Turkey Waldorf Salad. I kept going back for more:

Rich and creamy chestnut soup. I usually have a low threshold for rich and creamy food, but one of Rob's female colleagues apparently has a much lower threshold than me, because I finished my bowl and she could only manage half!

They weren't kidding when they named main course The Big Christmas Dinner! Turkey breast with sage and onion stuffing and bread sauce, glazed ham, roasted potatoes, cauliflower cheese, baby carrots, roasted beef tenderloin with porcini red wine, devils on horseback. Even Rob the Great Eater struggled to finish his plate:

The venue has a very cool design, and the service and food were good, so I am happy to give this new restaurant a plug. Shore features a very spacious outdoor lounge perfect for al fresco dining and cocktails.

We just said goodbye to my father-in-law and his family who had spent Christmas and New Year with us in Hong Kong, and hello to my dad who will be spending the following two weeks with us. It has been a very busy period (Zak also began his pre-kindy program this week) and I have hardly any time to get on the computer, but I have many photos to share, so stay tuned for more posts in my journal!

Christmas 2010
jeanniebayb
This Christmas was our busiest one yet, and we entertained two Japanese families and my father-in-law's family from Brisbane who is visiting us over the Christmas and New Year period. It seems that we have developed a bit of a tradition of inviting Japanese families to share with them Aussie-style Christmas-at-home. For the fourth year in a row, we have introduced roast turkey to Japanese friends who have never eaten from a whole roast turkey, and I will never tire of seeing the looks on their faces every time I bring the turkey out to the table. I did not roast this year's bird because although we recently bought a table-top Delonghi oven (the largest one we could find in Hong Kong), it is still smaller than our table-top oven in Japan (which was barely big enough for the smallest turkey). Instead I ordered a 6kg roast turkey from Main St Deli at Langham Hotel, and prepared everything else at home. The turkey was flavourful and thankfully not too dry, but Rob and I weren't too keen on the stuffing and gravy. Everyone seemed to love everything though! I spent 99% of Christmas day (and night) in the kitchen, but I would happily do this many times over again!

I made a Cobb Loaf Dip in addition to the usual snack fare. I made a healthier less calorie-laden version, and everyone loved it! Recipe here:

The roast turkey came with sage and chestnut stuffing, cranberry sauce (with whole cranberries!) and gravy. Homemade side dishes included roasted butternut pumpkin and sweet potatoes with honey and rosemary, steamed cauliflower and broccoli with cheese sauce, coleslaw and mashed potatoes:

Rob's getting quite pro at carving turkeys!

Everyone in our living room - it was a tight squeeze in our tiny apartment:

Dessert was a Peach Trifle using homemade cake, a can of sliced peaches, mango-flavoured jelly, homemade custard and topped with crushed digestive biscuits:


I hope everyone had an awesome Christmas, and I wish you all a fabulous 2011!

Italian buffet brunch @ Joia, Hong Kong
jeanniebayb
It sometimes amazes me just how small the world is. What are the chances that earlier this year while we were still in Tokyo, I would be assigned to teach English to a young Japanese mum - who has a daughter around my son's age - for a couple of months before she moved to Hong Kong? And what is the likelihood that we would end up living not only in the same area of HK, but in the very same apartment complex? Here's another story. In August, a month before our move to HK, I was introduced (via the organiser of the English playgroup in our area which had only be formed a couple of months prior) to another young Japanese mum who was making her move to HK at the time. (What, is everyone moving to Hong Kong?) By coincidence, we now also live in the same residential area, and I recently discovered that my ex-student and this other mum had already met each other here in HK before we even moved here. Is the world really that small?

Anyway, two Sundays ago, the three of us along with our respective husbands and toddlers, met together for the first time as a group at Joia, a nice Italian restaurant at the nearby Elements mall. We've eaten at Joia once before, and it wasn't hard to notice then that Joia had laid out a gorgeous spread of desserts and a nice variety of antipasti and salad on the buffet tables for those who selected weekend brunch menu. It's a very popular option as you get all-you-can-eat appetisers, salad, dessert and coffee as well as a main course from a choice of six dishes.

Basket of delicious carbs served to our table, not that we need any help to fill up our tummies!

There was an impressive variety of salads on the buffet table which included chicken, beetroot, roast beef, shrimp, seafood and Caprese, corn and ceasar. There were also grilled vegetables and roast potatoes as well as olives. We could also have ham and melon, cured meats (e.g. smoked salmon, salami) and cheese. The main course took a long time to get to our table, and we were in danger of filling up with just the antipasti and salad.

The antipasti and salad buffet:

Rob's plate, round #1 (of several):

For main course, Rob got the Petto d'anatra in slasa all'arancia (duck breast in orange sauce). Duck and orange are the usual food partners, so there's nothing too extraordinary here. Decent serving size of the protein, but the duck was done a little too well so it was bordering on the dry side.

Orange duck:

I ordered the Ravioli di pesce con pendolini e rucola (home made fish ravioli with tomato and rocket salad). This was pretty simple but quite good.

Fish ravioli:

We were pretty stuffed by the time we were done with the main course, but Rob found his second stomach to fit in dessert. And boy, did he exercise his rights to all-you-can-eat with not one but two full plates of cakes, cookies and tarts. I was pretty well done, so I just nibbled on some fresh fruits and a tiny taste of each sweet on Rob's plate. It was all good, but by this time I was cursing my lack of discipline at all-you-can-eat buffets.

Tower of mini pastries, tarts and cookies:

Dessert table: Fresh fruits, blueberry cheese cake, mango mousse cake, passion mousse cake...

... opera cake, white wine jelly, chocolate tart and tiramisu (yes, that is smoked salmon on the kitchen bench at the top of the shot, being sliced and prepped for the antipasti table):

Rob's dessert plate #1:

And mine:

We'd forgotten all about the tea and coffee until our waiter came to take our orders. Coffee at Italian restaurants have always been pretty good in my experience, and this was no exception.

This cappuccino was my second cup of coffee that day:


The food was quite good for a buffet, and pretty good value for the choice of variety. We enjoyed the company the most though, and I hope that this group will get together more often especially considering how we met each other.

Harbour view
jeanniebayb
It seems almost a shame that we live in an apartment with a fairly good view of the harbour because we're not terribly fussed about having a view. When we were searching for apartments to live in Hong Kong, having a scenic view ranked at the very bottom of our list; we just wanted a comfortable abode that is conveniently located. It just so happened that this particular apartment fulfilled the highest combination of our preferences, and comes with a view too. Well, I'm not complaining, as a view of the harbour is far better than a view into someone else's apartment! It's another shame that HK's skyline is often blanketed in a haze, mostly due to air pollution from mainland China. Sundays are often the clearest day of the week, which makes sense as most Chinese factories are shut for holiday.

Here's a panoramic shot of the daytime view from our balcony on one of the clearer days:

Every night at 8pm, buildings across Victoria Harbour participate in a light and laser show, 'A Symphony of Lights'. Running for 14 minutes involving 44 buildings on both sides of the harbour, it is one of HK's major tourist attraction. We can enjoy the light show from any window in our apartment, but sad to say we usually miss it because we're often too busy with our daily evening routine. I do often catch snippets of the show from the kitchen window - the one with the most limited view - while washing the dinner dishes, but Rob misses out completely as he's usually occupied with giving the 2 year old his bath and bedtime routine.

A short 2:34 minute snippet of the world's largest permanent light and sound show from our balcony:

Fine Dining Yum Cha @ Man Wah, Hong Kong
jeanniebayb
I had never thought yum cha could be a fine dining affair until I came to Hong Kong. It's something about dim sum eating - in the old-fashioned sense where trolleys of bamboo baskets containing various bite-sized goodies are pushed around the noisy dining floor with waitresses yelling out their trolley's contents - that doesn't quite fit into the fine dining culture. And unlike French and Japanese restaurants where you can universally expect to "pay through the nose" (as my mum would say), you can get dim sum for cheap quite easily, especially in Hong Kong. But it's also in Hong Kong that you can find five-star dim sum restaurants that thrive very well, thanks to the wealthy businesspeople and holiday-makers who often stay at luxury hotels where these high end restaurants are located. I remember once getting to yum cha the expensive way at the Marriott (courtesy of Rob's aunt and husband) when we first came to Hong Kong as honeymooners more than 6 years ago, but have not since had the opportunity to do it again, until last weekend. We were scheduled to meet up for brunch with one of Rob's colleagues from New York whose girlfriend had never eaten dim sum before, and we'd voted on a yum cha brunch since it is a fairly typically Hong Kong thing to do. We needed a nice restaurant that serves good dim sum fare, and there are many good things said about the yum cha at Man Wah in the Mandarin Oriental. It was a fairly no-brainer choice then to go to Man Wah, because you can only expect the food to be at least excellent in a restaurant belonging to a five star hotel.

There were none of the chaotic noise of the trolley push-cart system in this restaurant; instead the neatly-dressed maître'd showed us to our seats and a waiter took our order. There were not that many tables, and the dining area maintained an intimate atmosphere. On the menu were a few yum cha classics such as char siu bao and egg tart, but most of the dishes had been given an innovative twist, such as the xiao long bao with hairy crab mousse. All the items we ordered were nothing short of excellent, and I was pleased that D's girlfriend got a good introduction to dim sum eating (although I hope that it hasn't set the bar too high for her future experiences with dim sum). Her favourite item was the ubiquitous char siu bao (barbecue pork buns), which was probably the best char siu bao I've ever eaten!

Freebie Candied Walnuts at the start of the meal:

Luxurious version of the Lormaikai (glutinous rice in lotus leaf), with abalone. It was difficult to get a good shot of it without hot steam fogging up the lens:

Barbecue Pork Bun - seriously fluffy buns with perfectly seasoned filling:

D's favourite - the Beef Tenderloin Puff with Black Pepper Sauce:

Scallop and Shrimp Dumpling with XO Sauce:

Single serves of the Shanghainese Soup Dumpling with Minced Pork and Hairy Crab Mousse - bursting with umami flavour (and hot liquid!):

The Egg Tart made perfect! Light, flaky multi-layered pastry crust with silky eggy custard, fresh from the oven:

It wouldn't be fine dining without petit fours served at the end of the meal - Coconut Milk Pudding and Cashew Cookie:

This was a very nice dim sum experience, something to try at least once! Now if I could only find another restaurant just as nice that doesn't break the bank, so that good dim sum brunching can be a regular thing for us.

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