Travel is a blessing, it is simply a gift being able to visit exotic locales, meet interesting people across the world and sample the best food that the planet has to offer. I feel very lucky. And so this time of year, as Thanksgiving rolls around in the US, I like to reflect on all that I have been fortunate enough to have experienced. And this got me to thinking about Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has been one of my favorite destinations since my 1st trip back in 1991. It was untamed, wild, intense and truly made you feel alive. But I wonder if I would have the same passion for this city if I were to visit for 1st time today
Well with that in mind I recently set off for a 3 days trip to Hong Kong. I booked the Sheraton Kowloon, an old favorite of mine. I had flown in many times to the old airport, and yes the views were fantastic, and the location was close to the city. But do any of us remember what turmoil the terminal was always in? Not HKIA. This is a smooth machine. Yes immigration can be a little lengthy but it still runs brilliantly.
The train is a great option to get to the city. Yet I never do it. I take a taxi as it costs about $220HKD to Kowloon. I am there in 35 minutes door to door. The train however is only $80HKD but I still like the ease and convenience of a taxi. Hong Kong cabs are generally clean, efficient and very trustworthy.
Arriving at the hotel at 11pm, I still had time to hit the oyster lounge on the top floor. This has views that are close to the best in Hong Kong. Rooms at the Sheraton are very dated and there is a renovation going on. But they have a roof top pool which is hard to find in most hotels and since the weather is good for most of the year, I like staying here. Plus the hotel is in a fantastic location so I can’t wait for the overhaul to be completed.
As is my usual routine in Hong Kong I look forward to an early morning breakfast. The best breakfast is in the towers lounge which is located on the oyster bar’s level. I have a Japanese tray with a buffet and great service and I’m on my way. I’m ready to hit the streets of Tsim Tsa Tsui.
And this for me is the essence of Hong Kong. A little shopping, a little reminiscing and a lot of exploring great food; this is what makes Hong Kong special to me.
This part of Kowloon hasn’t really changed like the bustling streets of Hong Kong Island. Many of the same stores are still in place. It’s real Hong Kong. Aromas hit the streets and I could be back in 1991- classic tailor shops, Chinese medicine stalls, newspaper stands and the Hong Kong branded stores like Giordano are everywhere. Even some of the best restaurants, the ones I have grown to love, remain relatively unchanged. The Spring Deer on Mody Road and Jade Garden in Star House are must visit places. They remind me of my first trip to the city and the aromas always make me feel as if I’ve come home.
Because food is so intrinsic to our memories I thought I would pass along a recipe for one of my favorite Chinese dishes. It’s easy and it’ll help you to taste how special Hong Kong is.
Chicken Lettuce wraps
A very typical dish in the Cantonese kitchen. It normally has some pork fat or the skin of the chicken, So I made it healthy and lower in fat. I have had some great varieties. My in laws used to take me to a place on the Edgware road that was terrific and I also experienced the dish in Shanghai.
2 LBS lean Chicken Mince
½ Tin water chestnuts chopped
6 Large mushrooms chopped finely
½ Large onion chopped finely
I Clove crushed garlic
3 Tables spoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 Table spoon soya sauce
3 Table spoon mirin or white wine
6 spring onions chopped
Serve with plum sauce
In a large non stick pan heat some olive oil, just a drizzle and cook the onions for a few minutes, add the mushroom and cook for another 2 minutes. Now add the chicken and cook for 4-6 minutes and keep turning it so it breaks it down to little pieces, now add the mirin or wine followed by the garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil, water chestnuts ,soy sauce and oyster sauce. Cook for a few minutes and let it all caramelize. Now add the spring onions. Take off the heat. Open all the radicchio leaves and fill with a spoonful of the chicken, drizzle a little plum sauce on each and serve.
Daniel Green, the Model Cook is a Celebrity Chef known for his healthy approach to food and living well. With TV, books, magazines and live appearances, Daniel spends his time helping fans to cook better, feel better and live better. He’s also an avid traveler and a self-confessed Foodie.