Andrea Oran ‘18
Tonight, 40 of us will gather for a kick-off reception starting our journey through the Philippines. Over the next 7 days, we will venture through the country, exploring the natural beauty of the region, while meeting with industry leaders in finance, energy, politics, hospitality, and more. But before I get ahead of myself…let me first recap the past 80 hours.
As this was going to be my first time in Asia, I wanted to make the most of my time here (not to mention that I wanted to spread out the 16 hour flights to and from New York as much as possible). After evaluating the multitude of options, 3 of my classmates and I decided to extend the requisite layover that we would need to have in Hong Kong…80 hours from landing to takeoff. We were able to explore much of the city, getting a glimpse of the amalgamation of British and Chinese culture. The highlight of my experience has been the food – and that might just be because I ate my body weight in Dim Sum…every day…
So here it is…80 hours in Hong Kong, as told by food.
Tsui Wah: after arriving at 6am to a deserted city, we went roaming for a quick meal to satisfy our time-zone confused hunger pains. We happily found Tsui Wah open and serving their breakfast menu, which immediately exposed the difference between an American breakfast and that which we would come to expect over the next few days. On the menu: soups, noodles, meat. I decided on the Satay Beef with Instant Noodles in Soup. The spice immediately kicked my palate into high gear…I could get used to this style breakfast!
Tim Ho Wan: as an aspiring restaurateur, I have been counting down the seconds until I could venture to Tim Ho Wan, the cheapest restaurant to ever have received a Michelin star. After a morning of exploring the Nan Lian Garden and Central Hong Kong, we had worked up an appetite worthy of our first Dim Sum meal. We arrived at the restaurant and were handed a slip of paper with all the menu options. Overwhelmed, we began to mark off our choices – shrimp dumplings, rice bowl with beef, crispy chicken and chive spring rolls, turnip cakes, and before we know it, dishes upon dishes were being placed in front of us. The restaurant definitely met expectations – each bite was better than the last, and then the bill came and our jaws dropped – it came out to approximately 10 USD per person. Definitely a meal for the books.
Al’s Diner: as dinner time came around, we were still full from our earlier dim sum feast, so we decided to peruse the bar scene right outside our hotel and grab a quick bite. Representatives from each bar and restaurant lined the streets and tried to pull us in, promising us great drinks and fun at their establishment. After much back and forth, we settled for an outdoor spot with festively lit tables lining the front. We got the menus and saw that it was an eclectic mix of food – largely American. So an order of unappealing burgers later, we made a pact – for the rest of the trip we would only eat local cuisine…and leave the American food to our friends back home.
LKF by Rhombus: our second morning gave us the luxury of having the breakfast buffet that was included with our room in the hotel. A full plate of dim sum and a bowl of fruit later, we were ready for our day.
Temple Street Spicy Crab: as we ventured to the Temple Street Night Market, we stumbled upon a restaurant that had spilled out onto the street. One of my friends recognized the name from one of the recommendation lists we had received so we decided to check it out. We got the spicy crab, the restaurants namesake. It did not disappoint. One interesting thing though was we were not given any utensils beyond chopsticks, so had an adventure trying to rip the crab apart and pull out the tasty meat. After a bit of a struggle and a lot of a mess, our stomachs were full and we were off again to explore the market.
Din Tai Fung: I am waiting for this place to come to NY…and I volunteer to help open it. The Taiwanese restaurant has had immense success and has spread across Asia and onto other continents – even to North America with several spots in LA and Seattle. Looking into the kitchen, it looked like a factory, with all the team of dumpling makers wearing all white with matching caps. They provided us with an instruction manual for how to properly eat soup dumplings, their most popular menu item. 1-part soy sauce, 3-parts vinegar, mixed with a bit of ginger. Pick the dumpling up with chopsticks and dip into the sauce combination, place in soup spoon. Poke a hole in the dumpling with your chopstick so the broth runs out, and then put the whole thing into your mouth. It was incredible. We learned there is one in Manila, so we may be back by the end of the trip.
Peking Garden: for the grand finale, we had to go to a traditional peking duck meal…and it was worth every penny. They put on a show with the “Noodle Dance” as they broke noodles down and stretched them to size for all guests to watch. That was followed by a delicious BBQ duck with hoisin sauce and green onions wrapped in a little pancake. We paired this with pea sprouts and mushrooms, shrimp and chive dumplings (had to have them one last time), and of course the noodles that we watched them make. Perfect end to a perfect foodie vacation.
Next stop Philippines for #chazeppines.