With the weather getting cooler, its that time again to enjoy eating outdoors. Some of these places include the fresh seafood restaurants of Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, there are three main areas to eat fresh seafood, Lamma Island, Sai Kung and Lei Yue Mun. In the past, I’ve eaten in all three areas a few times, but then after a bad experience in Sai Kung (food had lots of sand and I thought they cheated me with the bill) and a so-so experience in Lei Yue Mun (food was only so-so), the last few times, I have only been to eat at Lamma Island, and it looks to stay this way for a long time.
I have read several times, that people have been cheated etc… but I think if you’re smart about it, you will be fine. I think the main point is to stay away from those foods that are quoted as ‘market price’ since you really have no idea how they calculate this. Usually, this concerns the lobster and fish dishes.
Rainbow Seafood Restaurant actually have their own free ferry service from Central and TST to Lamma Island. You should call ahead and make a booking. The timetable and phone number is on their website here: http://www.rainbowrest.com.hk/eng/timetable.asp. When you arrive at the pier, just find the designated person to note your arrival and they will give you a sticker and let you know when the ferry arrives. The free ferry is only for dinner from Monday to Friday, whereas Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays, there is a free ferry for both lunch and dinner. It takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour to arrive.
You can order your food at the water tanks to see what kind of fresh seafood they have that day. At the same time, they have foods other than seafood on their menus.
Boiled Shrimp (白灼中蝦) – The shrimp were steaming hot when they came out and were very fresh and sweet. Sometimes I like to dip it in a soy sauce and chili mixture, but this was so nice and juicy that it wasn’t necessary. Fried Bamboo Clams with Black Bean Sauce and Chili (豉椒炒蟶子) – Normally I prefer the smaller ones which are about 10cm long. This time they only had the big ones about 20-23cm long. In any case, the clams were fresh with a nice texture and tasted great with the black bean sauce and slight spice (you have to eat the chili to get some spice though). Steamed Scallops with Garlic and Vermicelli (蒜蓉粉絲蒸扇貝) – This is always my favourite dish. The scallops are fresh and the supporting cast of garlic, vermicelli, green onions and a bit of oil mixed together just delivers in taste. Although usually one per person is good, I usually order two for myself!! Steamed Garoupa (清蒸石班) – The fish was fresh, but I thought that it was slightly overcooked. Still the meat at the tail-end (best part of the fish in my opinion) was still very nice and slippery. Baked Lobster in Superior Sauce (上湯焗龍蝦) – Order the lobster off the menu at menu price. There is no need to order the lobster that is stated at ‘market price’. Certainly, those are supposed to be the bigger ones, but I think you will find that your bill will also be significantly more expensive. Just ask for a menu, and order the one off the menu with a stated price. Now back to the food. The lobster was nice and fresh as the meat was very juicy and succulent. Because it was fresh, it really did not need the sauce that it came with (but I’m not saying that the sauce was bad… it just wasn’t necessary). Rainbow Special Fried Rice (天虹炒飯) – The fried rice is a mix of shrimp, BBQ pork, egg and green onions. It really isn’t anything special, but there to fill your stomach if the seafood hasn’t already.
Just as a point of reference, this meal for 4 (lunch) was about $250 per person and we could not finish the fried rice. They also provide free fruit at the end of the meal.
Boiled Shrimp (白灼中蝦)
Steamed Scallops with Garlic and Vermicelli (蒜蓉粉絲蒸扇貝)
__________ Rainbow Seafood Restaurant G/F, Shops 1A-1B,5,16-20,23-24, First Street, Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island 2982 8100
Saw a Groupon for African food and I do love to try all sorts of foods. Besides, its been over 10 years since I was last on the African continent (Egypt/South Africa) so why not give it a try? The deal was $78 for a two-course meal with drink excluding service charge. I suspect if you order a la carte, it will be much more expensive. The restaurant was quite spacious but since most of the couch areas were big tables, we were seated at a bar table and it wasn’t too comfortable. They also have an area for the band to play, and while we were there too early, I think that the band would have been interesting to listen to.
Spicy Meatballs – The spicy meatballs were basically minced beef mixed with some aromatic African spices. The spices were spicy and gave the meatballs a nice kick. African Spring Roll – There really wasn’t all that much filling inside the spring rolls such that I really would not have know what I was eating if I didn’t check the menu. In fact, the filling was a mix of minced chicken and spring onions. The spring rolls came with a chilli sauce that improved it, but perhaps not enough. It was also a bit oily. Kedjenou – A dish that comes from Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). It is a slow-chicken stew with some vegetables and a spicy kick to it. I thought that the dish was quite good. Everything went well together and is great served with rice. My main problem though is that it seems the restaurant is quite stingy on the chicken meat. There was maybe 3 pieces of meat in total, of which 2 were largely bone and seriously had very little meat on it. Chaka – A fried fish dish served with onions and tomato in a lukewarm vinaigrette sauce. The fish was cooked quite nicely but maybe slightly salty. It was also quite bony, but nothing too bad as most of the bones were pretty big and easy to remove. African Ginger Drink – Although the meal comes with a free regular drink, we decide to pay an extra $35 to try this African ginger drink. When they say ginger, it seriously has a strong ginger taste to it. I actually could not tell if there was any alcohol added to it, but I suspect there might have been a splash or two. I’m not too big of a ginger fan so don’t recommend it unless you really like ginger.
At the end of it all, I really didn’t feel too filled and still had the urge to eat elsewhere. In addition, I’m not so sure this place is all that worth it if you didn’t get the Groupon deal as it seems quite expensive for the amount offered.
__________ Makumba Africa Bar Lounge G/F, 48 Peel Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong 2522 0544
I wanted to try this place out for a while. Luckily I didn’t have to plan anything as it was picked for a friend’s birthday. We got the private room inside and the great thing was that there was no minimum charge. They had some decent beers on tap, and as I love my dark beers these days, I naturally picked a pint of Leffe Brune.
AMUSE BOUCHE Crispy Mozzarella Ball
The mozzarella ball came as an amuse bouche. It was crispy on the ourside but unfortunately the cheese inside was only lukewarm so it wasn’t as good as it could have been. The tomato and the greens balanced out the fried factor.
STARTERS 8-hr French Onion Soup – blended gruyere . white cheddar
I’m guessing that this means the soup was cooked for 8-hours. The soup itself was thick and very flavourful. The caramelized onions were sweet and went well with the slight salt of the cheese. The bread was soft from soaking up the soup. Actually I prefer some of my bread to be crispy still so perhaps would have preferred the bread on the side. But I don’t want to take away from the soup because it was still really good.
Liberty Steak Tartare – truffle mayonnaise . soft boiled quail’s egg . parmesan fries
The beef tartare had a sweet taste to it and was wonderful in the mouth. The parmesan fries were pretty good but it was the truffle mayonnaise that really perks up the fries. However, I wish the quail egg was actually runny. On the menu it does say that the quail egg is soft boiled, but clearly mine is not. Runny yolk all over the steak tartare would have been wonderful… Can’t you just imagine it?
MAINS Buttermilk Fried Chicken – house cornbread . spring vegetables . caramelized honey gravy
Honestly, I’m not sure why I’m comparing a restaurant like Liberty with KFC when you look at the price, comfort etc… (perhaps its ingrained in my mind that KFC = fried chicken). KFC fried chicken is good, but this is even better! I have to say that I was very impressed with the fried chicken here. The chicken was of a very nice quality and despite it appearing dry on the outside, the meat inside was completely different. There was a mix of dark and white meat. Normally I prefer dark meat because it is fatter and thus harder to screw up and dry out. While the chicken legs and thighs from KFC are usually nice, the breast is usually a bit dry. At Liberty, both the dark and white meats were amazingly juicy and succulent. It was so good, that it really did not need the gravy. The vegetables were nothing to shout about but was good with the spare gravy. The cornbread on the other hand was like the chicken, very good. It was warm and amazingly tasty with a slight crunch as you bite into it for great texture. I could have eaten a lot more of the cornbread!
Pig Trio (Loin, Belly, Shoulder) – roasted loin . confit belly . guinness braised shoulder . stewed lentils . charred brussel sprouts . curried cauliflower puree
The pork trio consisted of the pork belly, pork shoulder and pork loin on a bed of lentils and cauliflower mash. The pork belly while still fatty, was less fatty than I expected. It was very juicy with all the fat and tasted great. It was my second time trying pork shoulder recently, and for some reason, again I am left disappointed. The pork shoulder was shredded but had a dry and tough feel to it. In the mouth it was quite chewy. Last but not least, the pork loin was the best. The knife could cut through easily and it was extremely tender and moist. It tasted superb and reminded me of really good and expensive sausage. The lentils and mashed potatoes were also really nice and went well with the trio of pork. It actually did help the dry-ish pork shoulder improve.
Overall, I do recommend visiting Liberty Exchange. The food here is nice and not too expensive. There are a few other dishes I would like to try still, especially the Tamarind Braised Beef Short Rib with Crispy Polenta, Glazed Daikon and Pickled Red Onions.
8-hr French Onion Soup
Liberty Steak Tartare
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Pig Trio (Loin, Belly, Shoulder)
__________ Liberty Exchange Kitchen and Bar G/F, Exchange Square Two, 8 Connaught Road Central, Central, Hong Kong 2810 8400
Along with Somboon, this is a popular place for locals and tourists to eat seafood. The restaurant is basically just a whole bunch of tables and chairs setup outside on one of the many street corners of Chinatown. When we got there, there were a lot of people crowding around the edge waiting for a table and the waitstaff were just buzzing about handing out food and clearing tables. However, despite its popularity, I do prefer the more local Noi Seafood located within the Huai Kwang nightmarket.
We were handed a ticket and despite looking like it would take a while, we did not have to wait long as turnover was pretty fast. While waiting, the waitstaff were also kind enough to take our order ahead of time, such that when we did get a table, the food could just come out.
Tom Yum Goong – There was a good amount of shrimp in the soup and it tasted pretty good, but it just wasn’t spicy enough. Shark Fin Soup – The soup was good and there is coriander, bean sprouts and vinegar available as condiments. Worth a try if you like shark fin. Oyster Omelet – Excellently cooked as the oysters were fresh and the egg slightly crisp. It was also not too oily and was good with the slight crunch of the half-cooked bean sprouts. This was the one dish I really thought was superb. Thai Prawn Cakes – Your standard Thai prawn cakes. Nice with the sauce and not too oily either. Stir-fried Clams with Chilli and Basil – The clams were fresh and went really well with the chilli and basil. The chilli gave a nice spice to the dish and spruced it up. Grilled Mussels with Lemongrass and Basil – The mussels were a good size and tasted good with the lemongrass and basil. Grilled Prawns – We had to chase the prawns a couple of times as it took forever to arrive even though everything else was pretty much cleared. The prawns were nice and tasty but they weren’t nearly as big as the ones that we had at Noi Seafood. Really recommend going to Noi Seafood if you want the best grilled prawns (taste and size)! Stir-fried Crab Meat with Yellow Curry Powder – This dish is for the lazy person as the crab meat is already separated from the shell for you and mixed with a yellow curry. It was so good we had to order another dish after we finished the first one. Eating it by itself is a bit rich, but it is perfect to mix with rice. In fact, we saw some guy sitting at a table opposite us who only ordered the crab curry and a plate of rice. Smart!! Crab Meat Fried Rice – The fried rice itself was fine but it definitely could have used more crab meat! Stir-fried Morning Glory – Fresh and tasty but perhaps could use a bit more spice.
While this is an experience in itself, I still recommend eating at Noi Seafood over T & K Seafood for better food and value. But definitely come for the experience, atmosphere and the Oyster Omelet.
Stir-fried Crab Meat with Yellow Curry Powder
Stir-fried Clams with Chilli and Basil
__________ T & K Seafood 49-51 Soi Phadung Dao, Yaowarat, Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand +66 02 223 4519
How did I find this place? We were staying in the Sutthisan area of Bangkok and arrived late (after 1 am) into Bangkok. Basically, we were looking for a place to eat late at night on a weekday. We hopped onto a cab and asked the driver to take us to a place to eat (NOTE: this is not always the best way as there are alot of drivers who scam you and take you to an expensive restaurant that cheat you and at the same time, the cab driver gets a kickback for taking you there). But, we were lucky, and he took us to the Huai Kwang nightmarket, and we decided to check it out for ourselves. We walked around and there was one restaurant in particular which had a lot of locals inside. It was called Noi Seafood, and I gotta say, for being largely anonymous (hardly listed online and very little mentions about it in English), it is better than its other more famous seafood counterparts such as Somboon Seafood and T & K Seafood.
The entrance is quite easy to recognise as the outside kind of looks like a mini seafood market. Most of the seafood is displayed, prepared and grilled outside. Inside, you’re not exactly going to find a ‘clean’ restaurant… but maybe something like the cooked food markets of Hong Kong, so its clean enough. Even at 3am, there was a good number of people in the restaurant eating and chatting away!
Most of the patrons of the restaurant were actual Thai people and despite having eaten at this restaurant more than 6 times already, I have rarely seen any other tourists except perhaps one or two tables of Chinese patrons. This was highlighted by the fact that there was no English menu, and the amount of English spoken by the staff was very very basic. There was a menu that was completely in Thai, and then for those that can’t read Thai, there was a photobook for you to pick whatever dishes you wanted to eat (just point and say how many when applicable). Note that there were no prices labeled in the photobook so the first time I ate here, I was virtually eating blind, and perhaps slightly worried I was going to be cheated. BUT luckily, when the bill came, considering what we ordered, it was very very reasonable and much lower than I expected. Actually, although I’ve eaten there many times, I still don’t know the cost of each of the dishes… Its now all based on trust, and perhaps I also think they might recognise me already. The only thing I do know is that the each grilled prawn was 85 baht or just under HK$23 which is such a good deal when you look at the size of them! Put it this way, I have not felt anywhere close to being cheated by them yet! The amount should end up being between HK$60 (230 baht) and HK$200 (750 baht) per person depending on what you order and how much you order (and we ordered A LOT per person… averaging more than 2 dishes each)!!
Oh, and remember to ask for the green chilli sauce! It’s really really good and goes with practically everything especially the grilled foods!! They actually understood what I was talking about when I asked for this and called it green chilli sauce!
Thai Prawn Cakes – Crunchy, juicy, tasty. Very good when dipped in the sweet and sour sauce provided with a dash of the green chilli sauce. Grilled Cockle Clams – The cockle clams are fresh and I saw a lot of Thai people order it. Actually there are two types of cockle clams at this restaurant. One that is fully cooked, and one that is quite raw. The one in the photo is the fully cooked one, done by grilling. BUT the one I recommend is the one that is very lightly grilled such that they are warm, but at the same time still quite raw. I attribute my mistake this time due to just being able to point at photos when ordering and pointing to the wrong photo. The raw-er cockles are juicier and taste excellent when dipped in the green chilli sauce. I guess I can understand the apprehension of eating raw shellfish at a place like this, but I can only mention my experiences, which is that I’ve not had a problem yet, and I’ve had ordered the raw ones on at least 4 different occasions. Shark Fin Soup – I love shark’s fin, but I don’t eat it often. Having said that, it was made nicely here and went well with the raw bean sprout, coriander and vinegar. Grilled Mussels with Lemongrass and Basil – The grilled mussels are quite good and flavoured nicely with the lemongrass and basil. Add a touch of the green chilli and you’re all set. Grilled Prawns – I thought that this was the best dish in the restaurant. The prawns were huge, especially the head!! It was so good that the first time I ordered it, I only ordered one per person, but then moments after, we had to reorder another one. Ever since then, I now order a minimum of two per person! Its that good! Once you’ve split the head from the tail, you can try sucking the good stuff out of the head, but really its so big, that I recommend taking apart the head instead. There is actually still a lot of meat inside, and the head is very tasty. Once done, you can peel the tail and dip the good sized tail meat into the green chilli sauce. So big, so juicy, so good! Steamed White Snapper in Spicy Garlic Lime Juice Soup – The fish was large with lots of meat and little bones. The fish meat was slippery and tender and the broth it lay in was good enough to be a soup by itself. The Thai flavours of garlic, lime and chilli were easily brought out. Stir-fried Crab with Yellow Curry Powder – There was a lot of crab meat in the dish and it was extremely succulent.Also seemed like there was a decent amount of crab butter. The yellow curry was also especially good! It was mild in spice but very rich. Eating the curry by itself is possible, but imagine mixing it with white rice!!! Yuummmm, I crave for it again just writing about it. Stir-fried Morning Glory – Spicy! If you can’t take spice, remember to make sure and tell the staff to make this dish less spicy. The vegetables were perfectly cooked and tasted excellent. I can only question why other places can’t cook Morning Glory this well especially in Hong Kong! Tom Kha Gai – Unfortunately I do not have a photo of this since I was too busy eating (bad excuse… but still, I apologise!). I will quote my friend though, when he said that it was the best Tom Kha Gai he’s ever tried. For me, I can’t definitively say whether it was the best because I just don’t eat it often enough to remember, but it was very good. Oyster Omelet – Once again I have to apologise for not having a photo of this dish. Actually this was the only dish that I thought was better elsewhere. In particular, the oyster omelet at T & K Seafood was especially good.
I have only good things to say about Noi Seafood. Each time I have revisited Bangkok, I take my friends and go to this restaurant and each time, I have left happy, totally satisfied and have been told by my friends that it was a great recommendation. So GO GO GO if you’re in the area! You won’t be disappointed. Eat where the Thai people eat when in Thailand!! This is the place!
Steamed White Snapper in Spicy Garlic Lime Juice Soup
Stir Fried Crab Meat with Yellow Curry Powder
Shark Fin Soup
Grilled Cockle Clams (the very lightly grilled version… i.e. still raw)
Thai Prawn Cakes
__________ Noi Seafood Located within the Huai Kwang nightmarket on Thanon Pracharat Bamphen (on the left when walking away from Huai Kwang MRT, about 5 minutes in)