“Ho ho sik” means “very delicious” in Cantonese, or so the internet tells me. It’s too bad I didn’t learn this phrase before my trip, because I had ample opportunity to use it.
The draw at Spring Deer, in Kowloon, is their Peking Duck. But the ho ho sik award really belongs to this spicy shredded beef with sesame pockets.
They are two separate items, ordered separately, should you find yourself searching the menu which is, like almost every menu I encountered in Hong Kong, encyclopedic in length and scope.
For that reason, I didn’t even look at the menu at the cooked food center in Mui Wo, where the ferry docks on Lantau.
I asked for a recommendation and this is what I got:
Clams with black bean and chili sauce. Ho ho sik.
I was not as smart when I visited the aptly named Delicious Kitchen, which specializes in sticky rice. The rice was, as promised, delicious, but I didn’t know that THE thing to order here is the crispy fried pork chop. Luckily my tablemates, three friendly men from the Philippines (one of whose claim to be a some kind of pop star has been partially verified by Google) sensed my frustration and actually shared a piece of the pork as well as what was undoubtedly the best tofu I’ve ever eaten, delicately crisp on the outside with a buttery interior that soaked up the surrounding shitakes and their juice.
Actually, crispy pork is likely THE thing to order at any restaurant, in any country. It certainly is if you have managed to get a reservation at Yin Yang, the tiny restaurant run by Margaret Xu Yuan that features ingredients from her organic farm in the New Territories. (More on Yin Yang to come, by the way.)
Any address lucky enough to have been blessed by a visit from Anthony Bourdain goes to great lengths to make sure you know it. Mak’s, on Wellington, touts his visit proudly, that smug mug staring at me from a clipping under the glass on the table where I was slurping noodles and shrimp wontons. Ho ho sik.
Fans of Bourdain may also recognize the North Point cooked food center from the Hong Kong episode of No Reservations. These centers, by the way, were developed as a more sanitary alternative to traditional dai pai dong – roadside food stalls – and are regulated by the government. At the center on Java road, in North Point, several quasi-restaurants operate under one roof in a sprawling hall packed with hungry families. It’s hard to tell where one establishment ends and the other begins, and harder to choose where you want to eat.
Luckily my friend had been there before, and took us directly to Dim Siu Yi, where we were welcome by a man named Kenny who sported a faux-hawk, many earrings, and rubber boots with the tops cut off into shark tooth blades. He helped us order, and soon we were scarfing down crispy prawns, garlicky greens, and slurping beer from bowls.
Speaking of beer, there came a point most afternoons when finding a good spot for a cold beer became a high priority. If you’re after a good view, try Red Bar on the Hong Kong side or Deck n’ Beer in Kowloon, both of which offer fantastic harbor views.
For something with a little more character, though, visit Club 71, a little dive with mismatched chairs that spill out into a quiet alley off of Hollywood road.
Spring Deer 42 Mody Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon +852 2366 4012
Mak’s 77 Wellington St., Central +852 2854 3810
Dim Siu Yi in the cooked food center at 99 Java Rd., North Point +852 2893 9393
Delicious Kitchen 9 Cleveland St., Causeway Bay +852 2577 7720
Mui Wo Cooked Food Center in Mui Wo, on Lantau island, to the right of the ferry dock.
Red Bar 4th floor, Two IFC , 8 Finance St., Central +852 8129 8882 website
Deck ‘n Beer Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon, Hong Kong +852 2723 9227
Yin Yang 18 Ship St., Wan Chai, +852 2866 0868
Club 71 67 Hollywood Rd., Central. +852 2858 7071