Diet plan shredded, metaphorical bib donned, I was prepped to embark upon a food-loving, palate-satisfying journey. A selection of lucky guests, local bloggers and I had been invited for a veritable feast of offerings at the inaugural Good Food Tour here in Hong Kong. This tour offers insight into the local food culture and trends. Last night, we got to sample the food at three amazing restaurants as we hopped on and off of the food train between Causeway Bay and Wan Chai for a night of simple indulgence.
The first stop was at Nan Xiang Restaurant in Causeway Bay Plaza 1. Their fame stems from one simple yet difficult-to-perfect dish: Xiao Long Bao, steamed dumplings with pork. My friend from Shanghai is an obsessive when it comes to xiao long bao – capable of lengthy oration on the right thickness for the pastry, the right balance between the firm filling and the delectable spurt of fatty soup. Watching the steam rising from the bamboo steamer, we were all eager to grab the tip of the smoking dumplings. Warming to the stomach, the dumpling pastry was made to perfection; sweet and fresh juicy pork punched through the pastry and dissolved in my mouth. I will certainly be able to take my friend here.
Next, the staff brought out an impressive looking Pork Knuckle. This dish looked fit for the notorious gourmand Empress Cixi. Carved as if it were a crystal pear rather than a pig’s foot, this work of art would have sat proudly in one of her banquet extravaganzas! Rich, tender and tastefully presented, the braised pork knuckle meat was surprisingly light and fluffy, the pork fat just melted on the tongue.
The final taster Nan Xiang prepared for us were some fresh baby shrimps, which I felt provided a harmonious contrast to the rich pork knuckle since the shrimps were so sweet and clean. Perfect palate cleansers and a nice understated way to conclude this tasting menu! I can see the dedication behind the art of their dishes and get why many locals see Nan Xiang as their go to for a bun fix!
Buoyed by our buns and baby shrimp and trotting after our trotters, we rushed to Atelier Vivanda, tucked in the middle of Ship Street in Wan Chai. This restaurant is owned by the Michelin-starred chef Akrame Benallal. Glancing through the menu, I immediately saw their specialty ingredient – beef. I couldn’t wait to see what head Chef Gilardi prepared for us. Trays of fresh and astoundingly scarlet beef were sliced by chef, meticulously working the grains of the meat into perfect whirls of smoked matured beef. The rich, smoky beef was refreshing and vibrant, like slathers of tartar. And those round deep fried pommes dauphines are now my all-time favorite! These were strangely redolent of my childhood favorite, beloved homemade deep-fried potato balls, and I could not get enough (literally, they were all gone in no time) of these soul-fillers. I have to say, Atelier Vivanda does them the best! Creamy, soft, fluffy, crispy mash potatoes. I was on cloud 9 as I popped them greedily into my mouth. I cannot wait to get my next batch (I am going back on Wednesday).
Chef also prepared a little pick-me-up for us before we left. No, I am not talking about tiramisu, I am talking about their homemade madeleine. It is light, fluffy and it summed up the heavenly tasting menu that chef orchestrated for us.
I had to drag myself away from Atelier Vivanda, because we had one final stop to make. Our destination for the intimate evening was Fu Ho, a Chinese restaurant on Lockhart Road in Causeway Bay. Renowned for their abalone, the luxurious mollusk which highlights Chinese celebrations, their chefs also have a few other tricks up their sleeves.
The first dish was also a first for me. Somehow – mainly through a visual aversion to these alien-looking creatures which look like they belong in a Ridley Scott movie – I had never actually eaten sea-cucumber. Despite the spikiness of the exterior, the spongy texture was somewhat like jellyfish or fish maw. I think the sauce made the whole dish; similar to a rich and deep oyster or abalone sauce, the layers of flavors soon made me forget I was eating a post-apocalyptic caterpillar. The Hokkaido sea-cucumber was paired with goose web from Hungary, it was tender, soft and the meat just slid right off the bones. Their attention to food quality and ingredients really shone through this dish.
Fu Ho chefs chose fresh swimming shrimps with zucchini in a light stir fry as the second dish to freshen the palate. We then moved on to the deep-fried chicken which had wows echoing loudly around the table. From outside we probably sounded like an ambulance. The skin was thin and exquisitely crisped; the meat tasted fresh, succulent and tender. The deep-fried chicken was scrumptious but not at all oily. Fu Ho has definitely done Chinese cuisine proud and we couldn’t be happier with the plates they served us.
After a few cups of Pu-er and sharing our highlights, already reminiscing how great the food was and what our favorites were, we ended our fun night with our stomachs singing with satisfaction.
Ying Ying move over, a new panda is in town.
*If you want to follow our foodpanda around for a night of gourmet symphony, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook or Instagram. You might get a knock on your social wall.
- Hannah Chung and CF NG from afoodieworld
- Andre Cheung from Spot The Food
- Rose Chiu from fatasslovesfood
- Tess from @foodsearchers
- Jon from @natfoodiary_
- Shelly Leung and Jonathan Liu from @shellweeat
- Phoenix Kwok from @phoenix_k
- Helen Scott from Mango Menus
- Kelvin Ho from HK Epicurus
Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant
Address: Shop 305-8, 3/F, Causeway Bay Plaza I, 489 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Address: 9A, Ship Street, Wanchai, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Fu Ho restaurant
Address: 454-456 Lockhart Road,, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.