Asia travel diary: Hong Kong [part 2]

A HK visit would not be complete without a dim sum/yum cha feast. We had to go to Tim Ho Wan – the world’s cheapest Michelin Starred restaurant, I mean, it’s not often that everyday people can dine at highly acclaimed and world famous restaurants without burning a hole in our wallets.

Tim Ho Wan’s original store was in Mong Kok but they’ve now relocated to Olympian City due to rent increases and have franchises dotted around HK and have expanded into Singapore. We visited the Olympian City store as it was on the same route to our other plans for the day. You’d think that it would be a breeze finding the famous yum cha restaurant but oh how we struggled to find its whereabouts! We were on the lookout for a crowd of people waiting outside a shop as line ups of up to 3 hours to Tim Ho Wan are not unheard of… but there we were, lost and very hungry.

Thankfully, after multiple attempts at asking strangers and passerbys, one guy was nice enough to lead us to Tim Ho Wan. Hallelujah!

Tim Ho Wan

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Luckily for us, there was no line up on our visit and our hungry bellies were well and truly spared. Score!

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Ordering sheet, inside Tim Ho Wan

We were seated on the edge of a table along with another group of diners – HK people will wedge you anywhere as long as there’s a free seat in the house. Menu ordering sheets and menus along with condiments were on the tables; the process here: browse the menu, select your dishes, mark them on the ordering sheet and hand them to a waiter as they whisk by and wait for the hot goodies to arrive in bamboo baskets straight from the steamers.

The most famous and popular yum cha dish from Tim Ho Wan are their baked buns with bbq pork. They’re similar to the traditional steamed pork buns, but these are baked instead.

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Baked buns with bbq pork (3); $19HKD/$2.71AUD*

We had heard so much about these glorious buns so expectations were high. A trio of buns came out with a slightly golden crust that was sweet and crunchy; the pillowy pocket case was light and the filling was piping hot – a mixture of char siu diced pork pieces in a thick flavourful sauce.

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Baked buns with bbq pork filling

Tasty little hot pockets of pork! I could smash three of these in one sitting easily.

Following the buns came bamboo baskets of deliciousness stacked on one another.

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Vermicelli rolls stuffed with bbq pork; $19HKD/$2.71AUD*, steamed fresh shrimp dumplings; $26HKD/$3.71AUD*, deep fried dumplings with meat; $14HKD/$2.00AUD*, steamed chicken filled with mixed mushroom; $18HKD/$2.57AUD*

Vermicelli rolls, steamed shrimp dumplings, deep fried dumplings (I personally refer these ones as footballs) and steamed chicken and mushroom baos (these weren’t what we were expecting, we expected a steamed chicken filled with mixed mushroom as per the description on the english menu… a little bit lost in translation perhaps?).

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Vermicelli rolls stuffed with shrimp; $26HKD/$3.71AUD*

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Steamed dumplings in chiu chow style; $12HKD/$1.71AUD*

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Steamed pork dumplings with shrimp; $26HKD/$3.71AUD*

So. Much. Food.

The vermicelli rolls were slippery and soft with either fillings of fresh shrimp or bbq pork all sitting in a pool of sweet light soy sauce. I never have yum cha without a basket of har gao and siu mais, they were both delicious and plump with the delicate dumpling skins still intact when poked and prodded out of the baskets. As for the stranger, yum cha isn’t complete without the football dumplings, not only are they deep fried with a crispy case but they hold a sweet and savoury filling of pork with a glutinous chewy skin. And as for those ‘chicken baos with mushrooms’, surprisingly very tasty with the fluffiest and lightest bao I’ve ever had.

9 dishes later, multiple pots of tea and a doggy bag to go, we were stuffed. All up, it only cost us $166HKD/$23.71AUD* for a massive yum cha feast… at a Michelin Star restaurant. Bargain!!!

Bellies satisfied, we then set off on our way to see the Tian Tan Buddha aka Big Buddha, a large bronze statue of a Buddha at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island. To visit the Big Buddha, one has to climb 268 steps to reach the Buddha. As it was rather wet and humid that day, we contemplated on pushing plans to the following day as we were concerned about climbing up so many slippery steps but since we were half way there, we thought we’d just brave the weather and hoped the skies would clear.

We arrived at the base but the weather wasn’t very kind to us, it was was pouring! Luckily, there was a massive DFO right next door to the MTR station so we went shopping! 🙂 The one store that the stranger never fails to venture into was the Nike store, but unfortunately, on the day of our visit, they were closed for a stock take! What luck… or lack thereof. We shopped around and waited for the skies to clear, and once they did, we headed towards the cable car to get us to Ngong Ping.

Dun dun dun!

A sign was displayed stating that the cable cars were closed for maintenance that day. Sigh. Another option to get there was to catch a bus, so we walked a few hundred metres further down to the bus stop, and because we didn’t have the correct change for the bus tickets (as no change was given), we walked back to a nearby 7/11 to break a note. Once we got back to the bus stop, the bus had already left (!) and the next one wasn’t for another 45mins. D’oh!

Oh boy, what a day! It was late arvo by then so we decided to head out and explore the city and come back to the Big Buddha the day after.

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Markets

We headed to Central to explore, shop and most importantly, find some food to fuel ourselves.

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HK streets

‘Maks Noodles’ was on my list of ‘to eat’ in HK as it was recommended to me for having the ‘best wonton noodles’. We were in Central and struggled to find its whereabouts when it started to pour down with rain again, we asked for directions from the locals but we kept getting lost. Psst… remember how I mentioned that the stranger likes to follow locals hoping that they’d lead us to somewhere good? Well, we followed this one fella up flights and flights of escalators up into the hilly streets of Hong Kong… then the stranger realised that he was probably heading home from work! *Groans* Wet, hungry and super lost… And then having to back track down the streets… but this time using the stairs as the single escalators were only operating in one direction at that time (Southern Express Way anyone?). SIGH.

I was not having a good day. It didn’t help when Hong Kong locals were banked up and blocking the stairways/escalators cause they were avoiding the rain, therefore we were getting banked, squashed and stuck. It’s like when you’re in the airport and someone in from of you is wheeling a trolley off the escalator or travelator and they’re stuck! You’re approaching them and can’t go anywhere… Yeah… that frustration and panic sets in! Then add onto that, getting smacked in the head and face with umbrellas as people were popping them open without looking around.

Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.

The stranger took charge and dragged us into the closest restaurant for shelter and food!

Enter Lan Fong Yuen.

Lan Fong Yuen

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Inside Lan Fong Yuen

We went through a little entrance by the front shack and walked into what was like a ‘hole in the wall’ kind of place. The restaurant was pretty basic with plastic/wooden foldable tables and stackable stools, the tiled walls were covered in posters of 90s pop stars and newspaper clippings and the open kitchen was loud and open.

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Open kitchen

Once plonked on a table alongside a group of people who were busily enjoying their meal, we grabbed the laminated and worn menu on the table and made our selections. Or in our case, the stranger did the ordering whilst I tried to shake my bad mood away and took in my surroundings.

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Picture menu!

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Classic Hong Kong style iced milk tea (奶茶)

This was an instant pick me up!

So incredibly good, creamy and sweet. I know I said good already but it was so so GOOD. I would say it’s the best milk tea I’ve ever had.

Rich in tea flavour; the beverage had a smoothness and creamy consistency to it resembling liquid velvet. The ice added a refreshing coolness that we needed to combat the humidity that day and diluted the intenseness of the milk tea somewhat (in a good way).

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Chicken steak instant noodles with green onion sauce (蔥油雞扒撈丁)

The stranger randomly chose an instant noodle dish, a dry version with pan fried chicken, pickled cabbage pieces and a green onion sauce/chutney.

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A weird combo, we thought, but surprisingly, very tasty, simple and satisfying!

And finally a snack to share:

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Pork chop bun (豬扒包)

So much better looking than the one we had in Macau I thought! This bun looked more like a burger with the (boneless) pork chop and tomato slice slapped between two sweet burger buns that were slathered in a layer of butter.

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My half

Hooray for some ‘wet’ ingredients to add some moisture to the bun. Delish.

Our bill racked up to $82HKD/$11.71AUD* – not bad at all!

Psst… only a few weeks ago, I found out that Lan Fong Yuen is quite the tourist destination and very popular with the locals serving up killer milk teas and simple ‘Hong Kong’ quick snacks! What a fluke that we accidentally stumbled our way there! 🙂

Once we had our snacks and spirits were a bit more lifted, we continued shopping around some more. We then caught the Star Ferry ($2HKD/$0.29AUD* per person one way! CHEAP!) to get from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon to explore the Avenue of Stars hoping to meet find Bruce Lee (the statue) and catch the Symphony of Lights Show which is staged every night at 8pm.

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View of Hong Kong Island from Kowloon

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As the sun set, the skyline started to glitter and light up

With some time to kill before the light show started, we walked along the Avenue of Stars and met Mr Bruce Lee!

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Avenue of Stars

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Bruce Lee commemorative plaque

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Mr Bruce Lee

Once we got that ticked off our list, we found a spot along the harbour side and waited for the light show to commence… (We didn’t think the show was all that great and worth the wait but it’s something you’ve just got to see when in HK.)

After such a long and exhausting day, we made our way back to our hotel, rested and found some grub around the area as a midnight meal!

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Pork ribs and veggie stir fry

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Wonton noodles

At least I finally got my bowl of wonton noodles! Thin egg noodles with steamed wonton dumplings in a comforting and hearty broth. Simple, comforting and delicious.

-d

Tim Ho Wan
Shop 72, G/F
Olympian City 2
18 Hoi Ting Road
Tai Kok Tsui
Olympian City Mall, Hong Kong, China
P 852 2332 2896

Lan Fong Yuen 蘭芳園
2 Gage Street
Central
Hong Kong, China
P 852 2544 3895 / 852 2854 0731

*exchange rate at time of travel $1AUD=$7HKD

3 comments for “Asia travel diary: Hong Kong [part 2]

  1. October 7, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    We went to Tim Ho Wan when we were in Hong Kong last year and I’m dying to go back. We were there not too long after they made the move from their original location, and we didn’t quite realise they’d moved. So we not only spent ages wondering around Mong Kok trying to find the store, we then also had about as much luck finding the Olympic City store. Thankfully the food was so good it was worth all the confusion. 🙂

    • dee
      October 8, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      Oh man! We struggled to find the Olympic City store too but yes, you’re right, it was well worth the effort!

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