In Hong Kong, food is very much about the experience as well as the flavour. There are hot pot dinners, cartoon character dim sum brunches, the Chinese 12 course banquet -style dinners and even outdoor barbecue spots where you have a buffet of foods available to cook.
The current new craze is the steamed seafood restaurants, which I had never been to before, where they steam an array of different dishes and then underneath there is a congee to finish off the meal which is flavoured by all the seafood, meats and vegetables that have been steaming on top. It is GLORIOUS!
My Mum, her childhood friends and I went to Steamy Seafood Cuisine in Jordan. I had never been to one of these restaurants before but a banquet of dishes came over to our table for steaming in the middle of the table in an in built steamer.
There is a section in the restaurant where you can create your own sauce to go with your food. I made mine with soya sauce, fresh chilies, garlic and coriander.
The meal began with seafood (lobster, scallops, razor clams, clams and fish) and then we moved onto some chicken, steak, vegetables and Chinese turnip cakes.
Then once all the steaming had been done, the steamer came off and in the pot underneath (instead of water boiling like a normal steamer) there was congee cooking away the whole time so it had absorbed all the flavours from the foods that had been steaming above it.
It was a really good experience and the food was really fresh. The food was so fresh in fact that they have all the aquariums with the seafood swimming around at the front of the restaurant. I definitely recommend.
If you like spicy food or if you are just a dare devil and want to try to consume mouth numbing chilies – then Sichuan food is the food for you! The Sichuan peppercorn, which is used in a lot of their dishes, is so spicy that is creates a tingling, numbing sensation on your lips! Their dishes are usually balanced out with cooling dishes as well.
My friends Jean and Chris introduced me to Bistro Manchu, a Sichuan restaurant in Soho, Hong Kong. It was so good that I took my mum there to try it as well!
Two dishes that you would recognise in your local Chinese restaurant that originate from Sichuan are Kung Pao Chicken and Hot and Sour Soup which I had when I was with Jean and Chris.
With my Mum we had dumplings that are filled with soup. You are supposed to bite off the top and then suck out the soup before you continue to eat the rest of the dumpling.
We also had a spicy noodle soup which was filled with the mouth numbing peppercorns. I felt like my lips were swollen after from eating them, but it was so tasty I couldn’t stop!
It is a quiet restaurant, hidden away on a quiet street in the super busy Soho area in Hong Kong, which serves good old traditional Sichuan cuisine.
Tessa and I went to Mr. Bao in Peckham one evening after work. It had just opened recently so the reduced, soft opening menu was still being used instead of the full menu.
It is a small, compact restaurant which has a great buzzing atmosphere. The service is awesome and everyone is happy to help you choose from the menu.
We had an absolute feast of a meal starting off with some Taiwanese Sausage, Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Chips and then we carried on the meal with the Bao Diddley, Shitake Mushroom and Slow Cooked Lamb Bao’s.
The actual Bao itself is a soft, fluffy and ever-so-slightly sweet bun that is then stuffed with different bits of goodness. The Bao Diddley, which is the bao stuffed with fried chicken with some wasabi mayo was definitely my favourite.
Very more-ish and will set you back about £25-30 per person but a great place to try something new and for a catch up with good friends.
The London Chinatown that we know and love today was established in the 1970s and New World was one of the first restaurants in this area, which is around the time that my mother discovered it. It became a regular Sunday Dim Sum spot for our family at least once a month.
It has a great atmosphere, with its trolley service that reminds me of the old Hong Kong Dim Sum service, which makes the experience exciting as you wait for the trolleys to come by and you can see all the food and pick what you would like for the table.
Esme was visiting London and as China Town is one of the tourist attractions, Russell, Patrick and I took her to New World for the experience.
It always buzzing when you walk in. You sit down, order your drinks (we decided on Chinese tea for the table) and wait for the trolleys to come round one by one.
The first trolley that decided to stop at our table was the steamed baskets. We chose siew mai (a pork and prawn dumpling), har kau (a prawn dumpling), and xiao long bao (a Shanghai-nese pork dumpling).
The next trolley that came round was the cold meats (that you can ask them to warm up). We decided on some char siew, which is a sweet barbecued pork dish.
Then the fried foods trolley came round and we chose some spring rolls, Woo Kok (fried yam puff with a pork and mushroom filling) and another dish which is a deep fried sweet sticky pastry with a pork filling.
To end the meal, we had some Portuguese egg tarts.
We left the restaurant extremely full of Chinese deliciousness and paid £15 each. Overall its a fun, sociable meal to be shared and a must try if you fancy some affordable dim sum in Chinatown.
At 4 stories high, with the ability to seat 500 diners, Wong Kei is a London Chinatown institution. Known for its straight forward, no-fluff, fast service (which some may find rude) – the restaurant is always full of students, tourists, and Chinese customers. The atmosphere is always buzzing and the great thing is, you can eat yourself into a food-coma, without breaking the bank. It has a special place in my heart from the days of being a university student in London.
Liz and I went for some good hit-the-spot Chinese food after a long hard day of work.
We ordered a Crispy Shredded Beef as it is Liz’s favourite. It was the first time I had tried it there and it was very good.
I like the roast meats there so we got a plate of Pork Belly and BBQ Pork on rice (£6). They pour a sweet gravy over it all to complete it. The Pork Belly has crispy skin on it, which gives a crunch to it and the BBQ Pork has a sweet and smokey flavour to it.
I love Chinese vegetables. Growing up my mother told me that if I ate my greens, my hair would grow long and silky, and being a very girly little girl, this made me like my greens even more.
We ordered Choi Sum with Oyster Sauce, which was fresh, crunchy, and sweet (£4).
The service isn’t the best and you might have to eat on a table with other people, but overall, its a good eat.