13 comments on “Hong Kong: Food

  1. Wow. I think you spent more on food in 9 days than I make in a year. The food looks great, but really?

    I really don’t mean to be a grinch or anything, but at what point does opulent celebration become intolerably wasteful? Is it unfair of me to wonder if the line has been crossed when the cost of one dish from a ten plus dish dinner could feed an entire village for a year? If the post that puts that abalone dish at a thousand dollars a plate is correct, than that one dish would easily feed my entire household (three adults plus two babies) for a month, and I live in the most expensive city in the United States.

  2. ben,

    hehe, I can assure you the abalone we had was not the one they trophied in front of the restaurant. It’ much like a prized dish that shows off a restaurants quality, but people rarely order that exact one, but there are various versions in that one dish that vary in price for sure. It’s just like a huge prized fish they had in a tank, but really did not let anyone order it. Think of it like a kobe steak with gold flakes and foe gra for $100 in the USA.. not everyone orders it, but the restaurant is known for it.

    Asian culture makes ya eat, especially when seeing family every day that you have not seen for years, so it’s their right to want to feed you. Most of these meals were with large tables of people, it’s hard to order most of these dishes with just 3-4 people.

    and as for waste, I agree on some dishes costing much, but that’s normal in any society, but one thing in asian culture I’ll say about waste is we dont waste anything from an animal, dish, etc. We actually eat everything… fish heads, the innards, the feet, skin, etc. If you really think about what is thrown away in American society from an animal, then I’d say, that is a larger waste that could feed hundreds of families.

  3. The pictures are gorgeous, and the descriptions add to my appreciation. I’m pretty familiar with dim sum, but didn’t know that fish is always served with the head. Wow. I’m really hungry now. When Chris and I get to Hong Kong one of these days, we’ll be sure to ask for your recommendations!

  4. Tango,

    Thanks for the clarification on the prized abalone situation. I just went to what I think of as an upscale dim sum place for the first time (Yank Sing in SF), and I think that maybe I have a better understanding of how you could have ordered such a staggering array of dishes. They just come around with the endless carts of little yummies.

    Also, I wasn’t trying to say that Chinese eating habits are more wasteful than American at all. I agree that the opposite is certainly true. I mean, Americans eat way more red meat, and the US is still the biggest single source of CO2 emissions in the world despite having a much smaller population than China. I guess the point I was trying to make had more to do with comparing the eating habits of across economic classes.

  5. This is a beautiful, wonderful compilation of pictures depicting a cross section of Hong Kong’s culinary delights.

    As a professional chef who trained and cooked for years in Hong Kong, I can tell you the pictures provide the readers a real clue about the level of detail and sophistication delivered by the chefs in the Hong Kong back kitchens.

    I trained in a number of famous establishments, King of Kings (Mongkok), Ruby’s, The White House (in Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, where I was a senior line cook at the wok range at age 19), Cherikoff and Chanteclair bakeries, The Peninsula, to name a few.

    My father was also a prominent chef in Hong Kong. My family owned restaurants in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Djakarta.

    In Hong Kong, we owned “The Cosmo” Indo-Malaysian Restaurant in Ashley Road (a street where dining options are still abundant). We served the best Satay in Hong Kong and now, after many years in the United States, I can tell you I have not seen a satay recipe that rivals ours. The original satay recipe in my family is over 130 years old. In 1967, when I was only 13, I was sent to Singapore to re-learn and re-discover the satay process. I learned from an elderly (78 years old) satay man from The Satay Club in the Padang, in Singapore. And you know what? The recipe he passed on to me was almost identical to what my family had taught me. The sad thing today is that many of the original satay people have passed on and I am beginning to see (in Singapore) shortcuts in both ingredients and process that are really unacceptable. I thought you would enjoy this little insight.

    In a year, when my cookbook is completed (on South East Asian cuisine), I will open an outstanding SE Asian Restaurant in Los Angeles. And many signature dishes from Hong Kong will be on the menu. My chefs will be from Asia.

    There are a few great chefs in the United States. Some, like Emeril Lagasse, come from true kitchen blood — mainline, classic background. Then you also ave a field of clown entertainers and self-professed gurus. The so called big names in Chinese in the United States don’t impress me the least. I recently picked up a newly published Asian cookbook that was authored by someone who never had any professional kitchen background. Good food is good food, and, while there is absolutely nothing wrong with an amateur writing a cookbook, one could tell from the content that the book was hastily slapped together and a fusion style of delivery was employed to mask shallow depth of the dishes. To make matters worse, this author attempted to negate the very character of Cantonese cuisine, which is cooking under very high heat (the example this author used was to slow sautee the veges which, in my training, tells me the veges will have lost its freshness as well as nutrients). In Cantonese, we refer to wok range heat and its effects as “Wok Hei” (literally, “wok air”).

    I was in Hong Kong just recently and these (USA Chines Chef) names were discussed around a table with some of my prominent chef friends; they weren’t impresesd. These so called USA Chinese chefs certainly would not make it in a Hong Kong kitchen. In professional circles, here in the United States, when we speak among chefs we are always cognizant and respectful of those who have come out of a Hong Kong kitchen — the ultimate brutal training ground. When I was in high school I was already cookiing; one finished school at 3.00 PM in the afternoon and by 4.30 PM I was at the wok range. As I was young, I was released from kitchen duties at 11.00 PM and THEN go home to do three hours or more of homework. What sleep?

    Even fusion, in Hong Kong, is held to an incredibly higher standard.

    My honest opinion about much of the so called chef material in the Unitedd States is that entertaining has over-trumped substance. I guess it is good if one is selling cookware. Sounds like a harsh assessment; however, as a backdrop, nearly all the masters we trained under in Asia were gifted, disciplined and, above all, very low key. When I trained in India, in places like Lucknow, Hyderabad, Kerala, Goa, Mysore, New Delhi and the Kashmir Valley, all the chefs I worked under were specialists in just a few items. Look at the proliferation of the food websites in the United States — a lot of junk recipes (we all know there are good ones as well, but relatively few). If you really want to learn Asian cuisine, stay away from authored sites in this country — flashy and shallow. Instead, follow the Asian sites.

    One of the reasons I chose not to emerge on the US culinary scene is to do right by the masters who taught me. I will pass on their wisdom in my cookbbok, deliver a portfolio of outstanding recipes, THEN open my restaurant (for fun … I’ve made my money already).

    I commend you on the excellent job on the pictures and the narrative. Many of the wonderful dishes I learned over the years came from amateurs, and I can tell you they surpassed the standards of many of so called chefs I know.

    When my cookbook is done, I will track you down and get a copy to you. Meanwhile, please send me your email address to chefboscopereira@aol.com and I will send you recipes as I am working on my cookbook this coming year.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am sure many will absolutely enjoy this.

    Kindest Wishes,
    Bosco Pereira / @chef_bosco on Twitter

  6. Pingback: DesignVerb! – Hong Kong for the Holidays

  7. I gotta say, theses pictures really make me want to go to Hong Kong just for the food. Btw, the orange thing inside the crab head is it’s eggs.

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