As we all know by now, Hong Kong is a city of contrasts that blends the old with the new, the big with the small and the freedom to either take a walk on the wild side with those coloured girls going, “Shoop de doop de doop”, or go upmarket with some Uptown Girls. Especially contrasting are the variety of restaurants within walking distance of each other- a veritable international buffet of choices within close proximity of each other.
Frankly, when hitting one of those rare moments when we are so spoilt for choice, especially during lunchtime, that we suffer brain freeze trying to think of where to go, we either walk to the Peak Cafe Bar (G/F, 9-13 Shelley Street, SOHO, Central, T:+852 2140 6877) or the nearby Yorkshire Pudding (6 & 8 Staunton Street, SOHO, Central, T: +852 2536 9968). Both have their plus points. The Peak Cafe Bar offers you the best people watching venue in Central where one can watch people going up the escalator onto Caine Road and some of the most attractive and fittest women in town going down to the Pure Fitness health centre for their daily work out. You can catch them going downhill, and coming up, all sweaty and hot and bothered after their workout.
While watching the free street fare, the restaurant offers very good international fare- pizzas, a Set Lunch, a decent Nasi Goreng and an excellent Baked Glazed Chicken Breast and, perfectly cooked by their resident Indian chefs, Tandoori Chicken with Naan.
Yorkshire Pudding doesn’t offer you the street fare, but it’s pub grub is excellent- the Bangers And Mash, the Shepherds Pie, Fish and Chips, Steak and Kidney Pie and, believe it or not, a very good Chicken Tikka Masala. It’s one of our favourite comfort foods.
Speaking of which, for lunch or dinner, a Must Try when in Hong Kong is the Madras Chicken Curry at the famous Jimmy’s Kitchen.
Basement, South China Building, 1- 3 Wyndham Street, Central
T: +852 2526 5293
We always order a dish of half chicken and half prawns and it’s truly exceptional. To complete the meal, the restaurant’s equally famous Baked Alaska.
Ding Dim 1968
Shop No.A, 14D Elgin Street, Soho, Central
T: +852 9698 1968
Small is funky, small is cool, and this tiny restaurant serving traditional Chinese dim sum is definitely worth a visit. Started by a young guy as a showcase and tribute to the culinary expertise of his uncle Master Black, the dim sum si-fu- mater, who started making these traditional Chinese dishes in 1968, and in a very different Hong Kong. Master Black is there along with other old school cooks experts in making dim sum the traditional way. There are only three tables with the semi-open kitchen across from you where you can watch how these cooks- don’t call them chefs- go about their work and create an incredible variety of dim sum other than the usual suspects- Har Gao, Vegetarian Spring Rolls, Char Siu Bao and Siu Mai. We can dine exclusively on the Stuffed Pan Seared Chilli Peppers and Siu Mai with Truffles and Siu Mai with Quail Eggs.
The customers are young locals, no doubt either bored with Hong Kong’s glut of shee shee restaurants with their over-the-top prices for the “views”. Most of these places are a total ripoff appealing to those who don’t wish to venture away from Hong Kong’s upmarket addresses. The more upmarket the addresses, the higher the rent, which means huge prices for average fare, and the carrot dangled of being part of the city’s shee shee and embarrassingly pretentious crowd.
To each their own. To us, give us a simple, value-for-money Dim Sum lunch at Ding Dim 1968 where we can happily be ourselves and “go local.”
Interesting to notice during our most recent visit is that the popular hole in the wall restaurant has opened a “bigger brother” right next door. One hopes to hell that this doesn’t signal going “big is better” down a street where, apart from Guru with its excellent Northern Indian and Nepalese cuisine, and the always consistently good Ho Lee Fook, there’s a feeling of impending gloom, doom and another area of Hong Kong hit by outlandish rent hikes.