swining and dining

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Hong Kong.....damn thats a big Chinatown!

One of my comments to my buddy Brian about going to Hong Kong was "Is there an "Americantown". Hong Kong is many things...picturesque, fast paced, international, a "big city" feel... and definitely a stop for anyone going to Asia.

After arriving at a probably the most advanced airport in the world, I boarded a train to meet my highschool friend Beverly @ the downtown station. After she picked me and got me settled, she handed me the 2006 HK Magazine Restaurant Guide..."pick where you want to go!" We decided to indulge ourselves to a night of Dim Sum, at a five star Restaurant named "Dim Sum". I took command of ordering as usual and went to town...the dim sum was not that different to what I have eaten in NY, LA and SF...what was different and good were the accompaning sauces (no chinese mustard available here guys) from tangy to salty to sweet, each dim sum had a sauce. Some of my fav dishes were good, like salt pepper pork chops and salted fish and chicken fried rice. We finished our meal with don tah and mango pudding, classics, they were better than advertised. Beverly held her own and didn't flinched to the amount of food I ordered. This was only the start to Beverly partaking into the food follies to come. The next day would bring my "Chef Partner in Crime" Frank and his NY Bro Joe...."eh howya doin'?"

Met up with Frank and Joe the next AM, we decided to take off for Kowloon, just north of Hong Kong. Kowloon is a bargain shoppers paradise...imagine blocks on blocks of shopping, jewerly, electronics, clothes, if its made in China, its in Kowloon. We wandered the streets for a few hours with a brief stop at an electronics store to get my ass beat by Frank on "XBOX360-Boxing"...I needed a pick me up lunch so I busted out the "Guide" ah a five star Peking duck Restaurant again aptly named "Peking Restaurant". We tried to find the place on our own...."taxi!" was shouted 15 minutes later. We got there...we thought....walked up some steps, read the sign...this is it. We, of course, got the only english speaking waiter..."take us on a trip, whats the specialty of the house?...we got duck...duh. along with the duck we ordered pork with peppers, chili prawns, and "fish a la squirrel"...we had too.

After our 3rd beer each, we devored the pork , prawns, and still no "fish a la squirrel"...then suddenly a large plate of butterflied deep fried fish topped with this orange glaze arrived at the table...no squirrel, just the name on the menu (we thought it was hilarious) msrketing baby, we bought it. The fish was crispy and lathered in a sweet and sour sauce, quite good, but not as good as the Peking duck served with pancakes. (I'm partial to the pancakes over the steamed buns when I have duck.) We stolled out of there 4 beer down (each of course), we needed a walk so we decided to take the ferry across back to Hong Kong. Kowloon and hong Kong has a lot of open air food markets...not for the weak stomach, the seafood was not iced, but fresh, so fresh the hearts (fish) were still beating (I kid you not), the meats just butchered and hung in front of you, the produce so varied and beautiful...we wished we could just buy some ingredients and cook ourselves.

When I'm traveling I often forget the date, this day was St. Patty's Day...everybody celebrates this day...and did we later that evening, but first, dinner was scheduled at another five star restaurant (3 in 1 1/2 days...not bad). The place was called Lumiere, why there? well the restaurant was billed as a fusion of flavors of Sicuan and South American Flavors. The place was stunning, even more stunning was the view from our table of the Hong Kong Harbor....thats were the stunning stopped. The food, lets just say...you won't be seeing Sicuan and South American Restaurants in the states soon. The food was bland, I think they payed it safe and didn't want to venture one way or another, we were all unimpressed (I was already looking forward to a late night congee stop) We ended up in Lai Kwan Fong (I hope I spelled that right) an area of bars loadede with chinese and westerners. the guiness wasa flowin...the big green hats wasa wearing....the booze wasa drinking (open containers in the streets (whata country)....We hooked up with friends of Beverly's and shook our "asses" at a local disco. That was fun. And yes I got my congee with BBQ Pork.

On tap Macau....Macau is part of the SAR of China (formerly under Portuguese Rule), but is still considered another country. Macau is being touted as "The Las Vegas of Asia"... and it was. We took the hour long turbo jet ferry to Macau, on the ferry we met a lovely girl who was a tour guide. Where do we eat? "Fernando's" as her eyes lit up, Beverly's also recommended this place. Apparently Macau is becoming a food haven...and you know me and havens. Fernandos it is. The taxi took us past the strip and casinos to what looked like the Macau Riviera. On this beach nicely tucked away we arrived at "Ristorante Fernandos" One smell was all it took. Frank and I said "This is gonna be good" Fernando's is a family run and is housed in a brick building with a patio reminicent of Europe. The tables were covered with checkerboard patterned table clothes...just my style. We got a tabler in fifteen minutes, at this point were 2 beers down. We ordered like royalty...chorizo, roasted chicken, grilled sea bream, grilled cuttlefish, sauteed garlic whole prawns (the best I've had) suckling pig (what?) drunken steak, steamed clams. It was one of the most memorable meals on my trip...flavor, flavor, flavor...no frills and great bottle of Portuguese red wine. DONE!!!! Who would of thought this...It is seriously woth the day trip to Macau. We then walked into the kitchen and took pictures and watched the cooks....just cook, simply and with passion. That meal was the only thing we ate that day....no BS.

We then took in the local sites and markets, filling the day with adventure after adventure ending up at a Casino...bottle service there is a must...a bottle of Jack Daniels ($60), we finished the bottle and at that point we were happy...stumbled back to the ferry and went home. Great meal and great dessert.

And thats just day 2...still to come my Hong Kong Radio Talk Show debut, shopping in Stanley Village and off to Vietnam. I'll swine you up soon.


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