Chinese cuisine has a very high reputation worldwide and represents the magnificent culture of the nation’s almost five-thousand-year old glorious history. The country’s very varied cuisine is considered as one of the top three in the world.
As chef Cathy Binag puts it, the best and authentic Chinese food are not necessarily those at the high-end restaurants but same could be found in small, unadorned ones.
Thus, in chef Binag’s latest food trip in Hong Kong with partner Antonio Floirendo Jr. they visited various restaurants that offer authentic Chinese cuisine.
First stop was the International Finance Center Mall where we alighted from the train straight from the airport. The Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop is one of those with most customers that one have to wait in line to be served.
Our group waited about 30 minutes but it was all worth it. This resto inside the mall is popular for their, what else,wantun noodles. Aside from the noodles, we also tried the poached kidney and liver with ginger and spring onions, the poached polunchay with oyster sauce, steam yellow chicken with ginger sauce, among others.
After the lunch, we head back to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel which is about 3-minutes walk from the IFC Mall. The walk was a good exercise to shed off the extra pounds gained from eating.
For dinner, TonyBoy Floirendo (TBF) wanted to try one of the best peking ducks offered in Hong Kong — at the Peking Garden Restaurant. The renowned Peking Garden opened in 1978 and achieved international acclaim with its crisp Peking Duck dish.
TBF said that it is difficult to reserve a seat in the said resto but with luck we were able to secure one, thanks to Mandarin Oriental’s help.
We ordered sweet and sour Peking-style shrimp, tofu salad with peanut sauce, braised beancurd in seafood, and of course the Peking duck.
On our second day in Hong Kong, we scoured the city streets in search for smaller restos and ended up at the Mak’s Noodle Ltd. at Wellington Street, Central. And since we just had our buffet breakfast at the Mandarin Oriental, we decided to eat light for lunch.
We just had their famous wonton noodle soup in different varieties and their stewed tendon. Chef Binag said they plan to bring Mak’s Noodles to Davao City and that they are still negotiating with the owner as to the franchise fee, among others.
There are still many small shops in Hong Kong that offer good Chinese food at cheaper prices. But these small restos are now dwindling in numbers due to skyrocketing rents.
As we head to the shopping malls after our lunch, our hosts decided to drop by another restaurant that offers goose. Can.Teen is Hong Kong’s fastfood resto patterned after popular New York City eateries that are upbeat, hip and energetic.
Can.Teen claimed of being a modern self-service restaurant accompanied by a wide range of international gourmet tastes. Diners can enjoy the expansive international menu, which includes salad, pasta, Japanese delicacies and Chinese favorites as well as barbeque items.
And since we are still full from the lunch we had just an hour ago, we just ordered roast goose and yellow chicken with ginger sauce, and rice.
Even before the food trip to Hong Kong, chef Binag was already craving for her all-time favorite Shanghai crabs (hairy crabs). So for dinner on our 2nd night, we head on to a restaurant that offered one of the best Shanghai crabs in town.
Aside from the crabs, we ordered boiled duck egg with caviar, roasted pork ribs, sauteed baby shrimp, Chinese ham with ginko nuts, among others.
On our third day, as we head back home, we decided to take our lunch at another popular restaurant in IFC Mall. The Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao, a Singaporean dining group, strives to provide superior service and quality cuisine, with an emphasis on the freshness of ingredients. Lanzhou handmade “La Mian” and Shanghai favourites “Xiao Long Bao” are among the chef’s recommendations.
And like any other popular restos inside the said mall, we again waited for 30 minutes before we were ushered to our seats. But again, the wait was all worth it.
We tried poached pork knuckles and white chicken, pigeon, braised cabbage with yunan ham, yunan ham with bean curd sheet, and of course the xiao long bao that looks like a siopao but has meat ball and soup inside.
In a restaurant in Shanghai, we used straw in sipping out the hot soup inside. But in Crystal Jade, we simply puncture a small opening and sip directly the piping hot soup. In both occasions, they’re simply delicious.
A little trivia from chef Cathy, ever wonder why there are no knives in any Chinese tables?
Chinese eating utensils normally are chopsticks, spoons, bowls. Forks are not used on the table and never can you see knives. It is thought that Confucius, a vegetarian, advised people not to use knives at the table because knives would remind them of the slaughterhouse.
It is also thought it is because the Chinese take their meals very seriously, and feel that the meal table should be a place of peace and harmony. The knife could be used as a weapon, and could disrupt the harmony of the table. Because of this, the knife, and anything else that could disrupt the harmony, is banned from the table.
As we head to the airport for Manila, with TBF and Binag already ahead of us, we decided to go back to our usual fare — burger.