An insider's guide to eating well in Hong Kong
There are few things Hong Kong-based Amanda Strang hasn’t tried her hand at. The French-Taiwanese model swapped catwalks for cuisine in 2010, when she apprenticed as a pastry chef at the three-Michelin-starred Caprice at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. Then there was a glittering television career. One thing’s stayed constant, though: she has a killer sweet tooth. High Life caught up with her to get the inside track on Hong Kong’s best foodie hangouts
Reminiscing at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong
When I worked at the Four Seasons as a pastry chef at Caprice, I’d eat in the hotel’s staff canteen but also occasionally sneak over to the Chinese kitchens. These days, I’ll head to the hotel’s Lung King Heen restaurant for dim sum. Making dim sum is similar to making pastry – it’s such fine work. Four Seasons will always hold a place in my heart. Every day before service, the head chef would quiz me, whether it was about sponge cake techniques or the criteria for a profiterole. He taught me that if you want to be good at something, you need discipline – there’s no cutting corners.
Snacking and sipping at Lyndhurst Terrace
I go to this street in Central Hong Kong to eat at the Tai Cheong Bakery, which was founded in the 1950s and is famous for its egg tarts. Right across the street is Mother Pearl – my go-to place for bubble tea. It does really healthy versions, with ingredients such as grass jelly and chia seeds. I also love Lan Fong Yuen, which is nearby and known for its milk tea. It’s a hole-in-the wall place and the drinks are served from a little cart and the tea is still strained through women’s stockings. It’s a Hong Kong icon.
Sharing food with friends at The Chairman
The Chairman is a restaurant that recently made it onto the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and it certainly deserves its reputation. It’s not excruciatingly expensive – it’s just good, wholesome Chinese cuisine set in simple décor. It does this wonderful crab dish served with noodle sheets – although the fish is amazing, too, and there’s a brilliant barbecue pork and delicious squid. I also love the crispy fermented tofu. Make sure you go in a group as everything is designed to be shared.
Dim sum breakfast at Luk Yu Tea House
If you happen to be up at 7am, this Cantonese teahouse in Central Hong Kong is a great place for a dim sum breakfast. It opened in the 1930s and is a really old, really gorgeous setting, with these beautiful wooden booths and wonderful stained glass. It’s the kind of place my parents’ generation would have gone to in the mornings – you can reserve your table and there are doormen who open these stunning wooden doors for you.
Splashing out at VEA
This Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant definitely makes a hole in your wallet, but the chef, Vicky Cheng, is someone I have huge respect for. He’s trained under some of the world’s best French chefs and I love his style of cooking. Anyone who wants to experience French dining with a Chinese twist should eat here. It’s a set menu that changes seasonally, though one of my favourites is his fish maw – it’s full of collagen (which is good for your skin) and he adds a butter sauce and caviar. It’s definitely an Insta-friendly place – the dishes come with little poems that you have to unroll.
Ordering a KFC at Yardbird
This is where to go if you fancy somewhere with a bit of a vibe. Yardbird is a modern Japanese izakaya specialising in chicken yakitori dishes, and there’s a nose-to-tail approach – every part of the chicken is used. It’s got a great bar with these high tables you can sit at, and simple but cool décor – it’s buzzing. I love the chicken meatballs, which come with an egg yolk, and the chicken thigh with shiso, as well as the little skewers of crispy chicken skin. But its most famous dish is the KFC – Korean fried cauliflower. So there’s plenty to eat even if you don’t eat meat.
Surfing and seafood at Sai Kung
I go to Hong Kong’s Sai Kung Peninsula for the fantastic seafood, which I’ll normally eat after I’ve had a surf. It’s cheap and cheerful – I’d recommend the deep-fried squid with garlic, or scallops with angel hair noodles, or plain steamed shrimps. When it comes to the setting, don’t expect too much – there’s just a pier, a row of seafood stalls and local fishermen selling seafood right off their boats. It’s where a lot of ex-pats move to if they decide they want more space. You’ve got the ocean right there and lots of lovely beaches.
Feasting on pineapple buns at Cheung Hing
Pineapple buns are iconic. They’re just a classic Hong Kong food – kids grow up eating them here. They’re sweet buns that are soft and fluffy inside and they have this delicious crumbly crust on top. I love the buns at Cheung Hing Coffee Shop in Happy Valley because they have a fried egg inside. You’ve got lots of butter inside the bun, and then this stringy omelette right in the centre. I just love them – the egg is always perfectly fried.
As told to Tamara Hinson