– Travel Food & Wine
Chef Vicky Ratnani takes you on a food tour through Hong Kong.
(Hong Kong’s Wine & Dine Festival)
Being quite notoriously know as Vicky The Gastronaut, the quest for flavor and a gut junkie to try all kinds of edible things, I “Cathay”- ed it down to Hong Kong for a few days for a gastronomic orgy. Every year HK Tourism hosts the Wine and Dine Festival, this year was a big one being the 10th year of the fest. This 4-day festival at the Central Harbour Space set against the HK skyline, the bay was magnificent a diverse collection of wine, Japanese whiskey, craft beers, and some local coffee roasters. It was mayhem and a dynamite of energy seeing over 150,000 knocking back vino and eating some really good food dished out by famous eateries and hotels.
Hong Kong has always fascinated me (not because I am a Sindhi) but the diversity of food and culture. One can eat some mind-blowing food from a tuck shop or, at really high-end restaurants or go the real hipster way i.e. vegan, no gluten, organic as I did at Grassroots Pantry. A truly homespun restaurant with a simple core philosophy, to create food that heals with the highest culinary standards and using the freshest, most nutrient dense of sustainable plant-based ingredients. Owner/Chef Peggy Chan has a reputation of a passionate supporter of deliciously healthy cuisine and eco-conscious practices. And the proof was in the pudding. She hit it out of the park. I absolutely loved it! I was pampered to a tasting menu after I introduced myself as a very hungry chef from Mumbai. That was my pick up line…
Lunch started with Fermented Teff Crisps, Almond Hummus, Urad Dal Salad. Teff is native seed-like grain from Ethiopia used to make Injera (a sourdough fermented flatbread) is a superfood great for your gut health. My favourite was a Spicy Tomato Tuna Handroll. Sous vide cooked tomato gave it a faux tuna-like texture served with cauliflower jicama rice, avocado, cucumber, shiso and sriracha cashew mayo. All lettuce and other vegetables come from an Aquaponic farm which takes the taste of everything to another level. Truly a memorable meal!
(Tai Cheong Bakery)
( Portuguese Egg Tart )
It was time for dessert and I couldn’t think of anything better than the Portuguese Egg tarts at the very famous Tai Cheong Bakery. There is a fantastic balance of the crispy pastry together with the soft egg custard that crumbles oh so deliciously in your mouth. They open till late and you have to do some serious climbing to get to their main outlet at Lyndhurst Terrace in Central, Hong Kong. I have always been a huge fan of the F&B culture and the diaspora of cuisine in Hong Kong. One can find food from various provinces of China, British, Malay, French, Indian, u name it. You got it.
( Mott 32 )
Memories and taste of great food always stay with you. Mott 32 is one such place. Named after 32 Mott Street where the first Chinese store opened in New York for what now is the vibrant New York’s Chinatown. Located at the bottom of the Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong Central, this gorgeous restaurant has befitted into the original what was once the bank’s vault. The cuisine is principally Cantonese, with some signature Beijing dishes and some of the best Szechuan dishes in Hong Kong.
(Roast Duck )
One of the best soup dumplings and the best Duck carved at the table stole my heart away. The duck is sourced from an organic farm in Beijing and is aged for 45 days before it gets cooked. It is then marinated, hung and then roasted to sheer perfection. Then it is presented and carved on a trolley in front of the guest this also requires great carving skills. The crisp skin is served first and then the meat is carved carefully and served with a spicy hoisin sauce, scallions, and deliciously soft rice pancakes, truly magical!
( Lamma Island )
After that, I head forward to explore a beautiful island called Lamma Island. Lamma’s the third biggest island in the territory, with a population of roughly 6,000 people representing over 70 different nationalities and cultures. Grab the ferry to Yung Shue Wan from Pier 4 in Central. It’s about a 25-minute journey, during which you can take a look at some of the great views along the way. It costs HK$ 14 one way on weekdays for adults and is slightly more on Sundays and public holidays. Lamma has a good variety of hikes for all experience levels. But I was drawn to the amazing seafood restaurants and shacks where I ate and drank until I was merry. And believe me, I was. My brother in law told me that this was the spot where Hong Kongers use to come to celebrate birthdays, entertain clients and also family get together.
( Grouper )
( Abalone )
The meals are generally set like a 10-course seafood extravaganza. We chose grouper, lobster, abalone, prawns and giant squid all cooked in different styles right from garlic butter to Chinese influences. That was a true well-spent Sunday and so did my trip come to an end.
The Gastronaut believes in travel. He believes in food. He is a flavour junkie and will eat or drink anything fit for human consumption. That’s me… to many more, bon appetite!