|Dim sum arrives by trolley at Maxim’s City Hall|
1. Maxim’s City Hall
For the true Hong Kong yum cha experience I think it is hard to beat Maxim’s at City Hall. Dim sum is served up daily in this huge ballroom with sticky carpets, dripping chandeliers and panoramic views of the Hong Kong waterfront. Waitresses wheel trollies stacked with towering baskets of dim sum and you need to wave down the ones you want as the best trolleys rarely stop at a table of gwelios (Westerners).
|Delicious steamer baskets of goodness|
It may not be the absolute best dim sum in town but the whole experience is so much fun that it was my favourite. The best things to wave down are the fried glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves and flecked with chunks of pork, the har jiao (prawn dumplings), prawn cheong fun and the pan fried turnip cake. Be warned, there are big queues but we got there just before 12 and were fine.
Details: City Hall Maxim’s Palace, 2/F, Low Block, City Hall, Central, Hong Kong (Ph +852 2521 1303)
Damage: Reasonable our bill came to HKD$200 each ($25/£16)
|The queues to get in to Tim Ho Wan|
2. Tim Ho Wan
Tim Ho Wan is the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant, our meal here came to a grand total of HKD$121 ($15/£10). It is a scruffy and unassuming place out in Mong Kwok and it is also tiny so we had to wait two hours to get a table. The good news is that there is an organised queuing system so you turn up, take a number and are told what time to come back at. We got there at 11.30 and were given number 66 (the restaurant opens at 10am each day). We then went shopping in the nearby Ladies Market and checked out the Mong Kwok flower and bird markets before returning just before our designated slot.
|Tim Ho Wan’s famous pork buns (times two)|
There are no white table cloths and service is perfunctory at Tim Ho Wan but the Michelin star recognises the quality of the dim sum which is excellent. The speciality here is the deep fried pork buns with their crisp, light casing and filling of sticky, sweet roasted pork which are just ridiculously delicious. Ha jiao (prawn dumplings HKD$22) were delicately pleated and filled with fresh, meaty whole prawns and the filling of the chiu chow dumplings (HKD$10) was a great textural mix of crunchy nuts with soft vegetables. Look how transulcent the skin of the dumplings is in the photograph so the contents are almost jewel like. The chef at Tim Ho Wan, Mak Pui Gor, was the former dim sum master at Hong Kong’s Four Seasons Hotel before he went out on his own so it is a big treat to be able to sample his dim sum at such bargain basement prices. However I do think Michelin should have probably rated Tim Ho Wan as a bib Michelin (its rating for cheaper restaurants where service and surroundings might be lacking) rather than giving it a star.
Details: Flat 8, Tsui Yuen Mansion, 2-20 Kwong Wa Street, MongKok, Kowloon, Hong Kong (Ph +852 2332 2896)
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve. HKD$121 for two.
Dragon-I is where the beautiful people of Hong Kong go to eat their dim sum with its sleek black surfaces, low lighting and extensive cocktail list. The restaurant does actually turn into a bar at night time but at lunch time there is a good all you can eat dim sum deal ($188). Dragon-I is beloved by Hong Kong residents as you can actually book there so it is good for big groups or those who don’t want to stand around for ages. It reminded me of Ping Pong in London although the dim sum is of a better standard.
|As you can see there is night club style lighting at Dragon-I even during the day with the food spotlit and then darkness all around.|
Light and fluffy char xiao bao (barbeque pork buns) (HKD$38) with their sweet and sticky filling were well made while the xiao mei (pork dumplings) (HKD$39), a Hong Kong specialty were meaty and bursting with flavour. The disappointment on the dim sum front were the XLBs (HKD$39) which had messy pleats and were dry with some of them having lost their soupy filling.
Details: Dragon-i, 60 Wyndham Street, Hong Kong (Ph +852 3110 1223).
Damage: Pricey. Our bill for two came to HKD$392 for two.
My map of Hong Kong
Gourmet Travel Tips
- For my other tips for eating in Hong Kong (non dim sum) here’s my guide to Hong Kong.
- Cathay Pacific flies to Hong Kong from Australia from $1150 return and from London British Airways flies there from London from £569 return.
- We stayed at Hotel LFK which is bang in the middle of Hong Kong’s party hub, the Lang Kwai Fong area. Our deluxe suite was huge and stocked with everything you could ever want from a bath and rain shower stocked with Molton Brown goodies to free wifi and an in room coffee maker. The room rate also includes cocktails each night in LFK’s glamorous “Restaurant slash bar” Azure and the views over the city skyline are stupendous. Details: Hotel LFK, 33 Wyndham Street, Lang Kwai Fong, Hong Kong (Ph +852 3518 9688 ) Rooms start from HKD$2,998/£245/$379) a night.
|Our room at Hotel LFK|
- The must do activities in Hong Kong are to catch a tram up to the top of the Peak to check out the skyline, a night out at the Happy Valley races on Wednesdays and of course shopping, shopping and more shopping.
- For something different catch a ferry over to Lantau and do a hike, we hiked the Lantau peak and then caught the cable car back. We also did a day trip to Macau which I would avoid as it is a pretty soulless place and the immigration queues on the weekends are horrendous.
- For researching a trip to Hong Kong I found E-Ting, Tom Eats, Jen Cooks, Hollow Legs and Mr Noodles very helpful thanks also to our Hong Kong friends, hosts and tour guides Jac, Mossy, Nick and Fabian.