As a travel and food blogger, eating is an important part of all my travels – my itineraries are often totally organised around different restaurants or food at any given destination! However, the art of travel is more than just eating or scoping out the best food joints off the street; I like to gain a deeper understanding of the cultures, history, architecture and customs of a particular city or region as all these elements contribute to the development of local and regional culinary cultures. Let the gastronomic adventures begin!
Once a British colony, Hong Kong has transformed itself from a small fishing village into an international financial powerhouse, and self-proclaimed ‘Asia’s World City’. It is no coincidence that HK has earned its reputation as the culinary capital of Asia too, focusing not just on Cantonese but a wide spectrum of regional Chinese, as well as Western cuisines to satisfy each and every food craving – a harmonious synergy between tradition and modernity!
Hidden in the middle of Hong Kong Central Business District (CBD), Luk Yu Teahouse is a three-storey restaurant that has remained relatively unchanged since 1933. Guests can experience a sense of history from its half-century old decor, listen to staff recount their years of service dating back to the early 1960s and order plenty of traditional Cantonese dim sum directly from staff carrying dim sum trays around their necks. Be sure to order the famed Pig’s Lung and Almond Soup for dinner, and don’t miss out on some “vintage” dim sum such Pig’s Liver Siu Mai Dumplings and Lotus Leaf Rice.
Luk Yu Tea House G/F – 3/F, 24 Stanley St, Central
Hong Kong’s vibrant food scene is in a constant state of flux – restaurants and chefs alike. After a short break from his previous successes in Hong Kong, chef entrepreneur Harlan Goldstein made his big return with Gold by Harlan Goldstein; don’t be fooled by some of the other “Harlan’s” in town, and check for his full name to ensure the restaurant is the real deal! Don’t be surprised if Harlan himself walks up to your table every now and then for a chit-chat and feel free to ask him for cooking tips. The crispy oysters are a must if you are looking for something exciting to stimulate your taste buds with contrasting yet complimentary textures and flavours. Another must-order is the signature dish of Hokkaido sea scallop carpaccio with a slow-cooked egg and white truffle dressing.
Check out Sassy’s review of another Harlan Goldstein restaurant, Striphouse, here!
Gold 2/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham St, Central
There is a piece of land (until recently farmland) opposite Taipei 101 and Taipei World Trade Centre that remained un-developed over the years because its indigenous residents refuse to sell the plot to the government or property developers. Originally the site of Xi Xi South Village (四四南村), this has now been transformed into Xinyi Citizen Assembly Hall (信義公民會館), an official historical site for museums and a work site for Taiwan’s various creative and cultural preservation groups. Located inside is Good Cho’s Bagel, Cafe and Goods – yes, bagels! Definitely worth a trip.
Good Cho’s Bagel Café & Goods, 54 Songqin Street, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan, +866 02 2758 2609 (closed Mondays)
In Taipei, late-night eating is not so easy… but Tian-Quan Oden (佃權關東煮) has come to the rescue! Casual and relaxed, this Japanese joint is perfect for oden and a few glasses of sake. The set-up of the shop is basically like a street stall with benches surrounding the kitchen; there’s no individual tables, so be prepared to sit next to a stranger and fellow Taipei foodies!
Tian-Quan Oden, 136 Yanji Street, Taipei, Taiwan, +886 02 8771 8272 (open 5:30pm-2am)
What exactly is Shanghainese cuisine? A good question! It’s actually a combination of several nearby regional cuisines that have gradually transformed into its own category over the years. This is one of the main reasons I enjoy Shanghainese cuisine – its diversity as well as its ability to evolve thanks to the influence of different regional cuisines. While serving traditional Shanghainese cuisine, Fu 1088 is not your typical Shanghainese restaurant! It is located in a refurbished three-floor 1930’s mansion in the middle of town, with a mysterious atmosphere, crackling staircases, wooden decor and beautifully tiled bathrooms. You can enjoy a peaceful meal here in the individual private dining rooms – just don’t forget the RMB400 (SGD$81) minimum charge per person (it might even be more now!).
Fu 1088, 375 Zhenning Lu, Shanghai, China, +86 2 5239 7878
You cannot visit Shanghai without a trip to Yang’s Fried Dumplings (小杨生煎馆)! The sheng jian bao (生煎包), or what many locals call shengjian mantou (生煎饅頭), here are a must-try! It is basically a pan-fried meat-filled bun with a perfect golden crisp bottom from pan-frying. The amount of juice inside the meat is another key element to what makes this a great dish.
See all Shanghai locations of Yang’s Fried Dumplings here.
Beijing is home to my favourite Peking Duck! It was from Made in China at the Grand Hyatt Beijing, which uses a unique three-way approach to create something different from the average Peking Duck we normally experience. First up is the skin – a thin layer of skin that is very crispy and literally melts in your mouth! The second serving is pure meat (breast meat to be exact), whilst the third serving is dark meat with skin. Ta-da! Who doesn’t like Peking Duck right?!
Made In China, 1/F, Grand Hyatt Beijing, 1 East Chang An Avenue, Beijing, China, +86 10 8518 1234
When it comes to Singapore, chicken rice (often referred to as Hainanese chicken rice) is one of the city’s signature dishes. I am personally addicted to chicken rice and there are plenty of choices in Singapore to pick from… so be adventurous and try as many as you can! One of my favourites has got to be Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at the Maxwell Food Centre.
See all locations of Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore here.
Another one of my favourites in Singapore is Swee Kee (Ka-Soh) Fish Head Noodle House. Famed for their fish heads as well as their fish soup, Swee Kee’s creamy, rich, deep fish soup always gets my undivided attention! The intensity of the soup here beats any I have tried before – and trust me, it’s pretty addictive!
Check out Sassy’s guide to where to eat and drink in Singapore here!
Swee Kee Fish Head Noodle House, 96 Amoy Street, Singapore 069916, +65 6224 9920