-Cycle 2, Item 332-
3 (Sat) December 2011
Sauteed Gailan with Ginger
at Aberdeen Fishball & Noodles Restaurant
-Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong-
Hong Kong, Day 3.
On our last evening in Hong Kong, the members of the group went their own ways, giving me free reign to eat whatever I wanted. I should've maximized the opportunity by spacing out several small meals at various locations. But I wasted so much time shopping for refrigerator magnets that it was suddenly 9PM before the thought of food entered my mind. At that point, judgment clouded by fatigue, I stopped at the first random restaurant with bright lights and big pictures. A plate of gailan led to a beer, which led to a plate of fried rice, which led to another beer. And so went dinner.
Barely capable of resisting the in-store advertising at McDonald's, I was utterly powerless against this awesome pictorial array of literally everything on the restaurant's menu, more tantalizing than a webpage of porn thumbnails.
I, Hungry Korean, apparently (see below).
Earlier in the day, lunch had been a revelation. After the conference had wrapped at noon, our group headed for the famous Crystal Jade restaurant, where we were issued a number that wouldn't be called for nearly 2 hours. Internet reviews that I'd read were unanimous in their praise for the restaurant's xiao long bao, a steamed pork dumpling. (I'll reserve further comment on xiao long bao for a future post in which it's the featured item.) In fact, I'd been contemplating going there for dinner on my own, even though the dish is generally attributed to Shanghai, and I was reluctant to spend my limited time in Hong Kong waiting in line for something not strictly local. But oh boy was it worth the wait. Perfection. It may have been the best dumpling of any kind that I've ever had in my life. Too bad that it wasn't for dinner, because Crystal Jade's xiao long bao would've received the first overseas 6-star rating of the blog.
Crystal Jade has several locations, including the one in IFC Mall, where would-be diners can at least shop while waiting to be seated.
xiao long bao (4.0)
(over)steamed gailan in soy sauce (2.0)
stir-fried string beans with pork (2.5)
kung pao chicken (3.0)
lo mein with mushrooms in shark-bone broth (interestingly, the taste and texture were reminiscent of beef bone broth) (3.0)
lo mein with seafood in oyster sauce (3.5)
While I often comment on how Chinese food in Korea has mutated beyond recognition, this trip to Hong Kong confirms that Cantonese food in America has also undergone certain changes. In America, for example, dim sum is usually served with soy sauce, chili paste, and/or mustard as optional condiments, but dim sum here seems only to be dipped in soy sauce or nothing at all. Gailan in America is, by default, parboiled in water/oil and doused in oyster sauce, but the gailan that I had for lunch was steamed and came in a soy-based sauce, while the gailan at dinner was sauteed with ginger. I'm just saying.
Seeing this reminded me that I was, in fact, hungry; the restaurant where I had dinner was just 2 doors down.
Another thing is that the phrase "Hong Kong style noodles" in America typically refers to deep-fried egg noodles, but the description is obviously way too restrictive, given that Hong Kong itself embraces so many types of noodles, none of which is necessarily the representative style. In fact, the first 4 noodles dishes that I had on the trip consisted of either starch-based glass noodles or flour noodles, nary an egg noodle in sight. I'm just saying.
Whenever traveling abroad, I purchase several bottles of single malt Scotch at the duty free store at the airport on the way out, some of which I'll drink in the hotel during my stay.
Whatever's left at the end of the trip, I'll transfer the various whiskies to marked water bottles and pack them in my checked luggage; at home, I have empty original bottles of most labels.
Later that night, I took a break from packing my bags and went off in search of the last outstanding item on my food checklist. I went back to the late-night diner near the hotel from the night before. And finally, for the first time in Hong Kong this trip, I encountered a server who could speak English. And finally, I got exactly what I wanted.
deep-fried egg noodles with shrimp and egg (3.0)