City Hall, 3rd Floor next to Star Ferry terminal. Tel: 852 2521 1303
Don’t be put off by the drab exterior of this large cultural and administrative block in central Hong Kong. Climb to the third floor and join the throng of office workers queuing good-naturedly for a table in this vast dim sum restaurant, with its panoramic views to Kowloon and a never ending parade of dishes. Teams of mature ladies wheel hot carts around the dining room, trying to sell small, often unidentifiable portions of dim sum, some healf-heartedly, some with boundless enthusiasm, but none with any spoken English. Through a mix of mime, guesswork and sheer bravado I ended up trying six or seven portions of excellent, freshly prepared food that is very moderately-priced, and extremely good. City Hall is a real HK institution, and is very cheap.
Zen, Pacific Place One, 88 Queensway. Tel: 852 2845 4555
Entered from the basement of a large shopping mall, Zen is part of a plush hotel, and is an upmarket, very stylish and contemporary restaurant serving what could best be described as Nouvelle Chinese cuisine. Smart-suited waiting staff serve basically very traditional dishes – Peking duck and a wonderful roast suckling pig – but in very delicate sauces and served with almost Pacific-rim, Californian twists. There is also an extensive (and expensive) wine list. Quite business-like and showy, but very good food.
Peninsula Hotel, Salisbury Rd, Kowloon. Tel: 852 2920 2888
Take the Star Ferry across to Kowloon and, as a tourist, one of the first “must do” stops is afternoon tea at the Peninsula. In a huge Palm Court lobby, a string quartet plays, and uniformed waiters in white gloves serve pots of tea and tiered cake-stands crammed with cucumber sandwiches, scones and cakes. It is kitsch and crowded, but great fun. At around £20 a head it is an expensive cuppa, but who cares?
Macau is the tiny ex-Portugeuse territory about 1 hour by ferry to the west of Hong Kong. Like Hong Kong, it has been “handed back” to the Chinese, but still has a lot of Portugeue culture and food and wine influence. Macau is the main island, joined by causeways to Taipa and Coloane.
Litoral, 261 Rua do Almirante Sergio. Tel: 853 967878
One of the stand-out meals of the trip was here. A homely setting (family run) in the heart of town, where the airy upstairs dining room is the brighter option. To accompany some inexpensive, crisp Portuguese white I really enjoyed the Camarões con Alho (large garlic shrimps), African Chicken and absolutely first class fresh baked fish. A delightfully tropical and fresh coconut and mango dessert rounded things off in style. Moderate.
A Lorcha, 289A Rua Almirante Sergio. Tel: 853 313193
Very crowded when we visited, but that’s because the food is every bit as good as Litoral, cooked by a mother and son team, and the setting is great next to the Maritime Museum. Moderate.
Fernando’s, at Hac Sa Beach, Coloane. Tel: 853 882264
This was another stand-out meal, partly for the setting, but mostly for the food and ambience. A genuine institution, Fernando’s is family run (by Fernando), relaxed and informal, but takes it’s simple yet beautiful food very seriously. Go through the non-descript front room and past the kitchens to the airy, breezy backyard room. Dine on the terrace if it’s fine. Highlights here were the Amêijoas a moda da Casa (baked clams in a creamy sauce), Sargo Grelhado na Brasa (King prawns in garlic) which were to die for, and perhaps best of all, a beautifully seasoned and dressed simple salad of ripe vine tomatoes, onion and green leaves. Superb espresso too. Moderate / expensive.
Dynasty at the Mandarin Oriental, Avenida Amizade. Tel: 853 567888
Very good food indeed, with superb lemon king prawns, though dining room rather large and impersonal. Moderate.
Long Kei, 7B Largo do Senado. Tel: 853 589508
Not the cheapest in town, but excellent seafood and fine dim sum for lunch. Moderate / expensive.
Thai, 27E Rua Abreu Nunes. Tel: 853 552255
Slightly dingy street in this little Thai enclave on the city centre, but a modern restaurant serving really good and healthy portions of Thai staples. The Tom Kha Kai (chicken and coconut soup) was fragrant, sweet and spot on. Inexpensive.
Mezzaluna at the Mandarin Oriental, Avenida Amizade. Tel: 853 567888
Ironically, this Italian meal was possibly the finest dining experience I had in my Oriental trip. Mezzaluna is a chic dining room, with a very comfortable, but modern, contemporary feel – not just in its decor, but also in its cuisine. Most of the food is more California does Italy than auhentic, but it was just delightful: superb wood-fired pizzas, light and simple homemade pastas with seafood, a wonderful dish of chargrilled butterfly prawns in spicy garlic butter served with basil risotto and real Michelin star quality desserts. There’s a pretty serious wine list, but we chose the excellent Redoma 1996 from the Douro, at around £20.00; little more than retail price in the UK. Excellent service and a buzzing atmosphere. Expensive.