A short 4 hour flight from Kolkata, India and I’m in Hong Kong. I loved India but I’m refreshed by the change of pace and ready to get my hands dirty in a new country! This first night I’m staying on Hong Kong Island, before heading over to Kowloon tomorrow.
Hong Kong is a crazy, compact collection of new buildings next to old side streets with all sorts of little shops, but there’s little time for much more than a beer before I turn in — tomorrow will be a big day!
I visit the markets on Hong Kong Island to get some chicken feet for later in the afternoon and am amazed by the freshness and variety — this place is a chef’s dream!
Then it’s onto the ferry for the 10 minute journey across to Kowloon.
My first stop is at the famous patisserie, Pierre Herme for an indulgent (if not the healthiest) breakfast treat — a little bite out of each of the 12 macarons I bought!
But I’m spending the rest of the day at Tim Ho Wan, one of the best dim sum restaurants in the world, cooking for the owner Mr Mac in exchange for my lunch and dinner, so I need to get going!
First up, I tuck into some of the restaurant’s famous (and heavenly) steamed pork buns before I head to the kitchen.
I’m cooking chicken feet, and for the first dish I stick with a classic Chinese chilli bean sauce. But you know I have to put my own twist on things so I give a Fr-Asian version with garlic butter sauce, inspired by a classic frog leg recipe from back home, a go too!
Mr Mac himself tastes my dishes and while it seems I don’t quite have Chinese flavours mastered quite yet, the French version is a hit!
I can’t explore Hong Kong without finding out a bit about Chinese medicine. Luckily I found a shop with a very helpful owner who doesn’t mind answering all my questions, and even letting me taste a few things!
The dried scallops and oysters would add an enormous amount of flavour to stocks and sauces, and the preserved black garlic is surprisingly sweet, but the thing I must try is the thousand year old egg.
I can’t say the egg is the happiest of surprises but I discover — after eating half in one go — that it’s generally eaten in much smaller quantities, a bit like Aussie Vegemite it seems. I wish I knew that earlier!
On a tip I walk just down the road to a restaurant that serves Turtle Jelly. I’ve never even heard of the dish before, but apparently it’s supposed to be amazing for your skin. Black food seems to be the theme of the day!
I go for the cold version, which it a bit more set than the hot. I wouldn’t say it’s all that nice, it has a very strong licorice flavour and an herbal smell, but it is better than that egg!
I’m committed to finishing the bowl though, and have to say that if you’re in HK it’s worth trying.
I’ve worked out a deal for my accommodation in Hong Kong that has me cooking the staff meal at 2-starred restaurant, Ming Court.
The 40-plus chefs at this this fine dining Cantonese restaurant work incredibly hard so you can bet that Executive Chef Mango will be keeping a close eye on what I make for his top team.
I’m cooking up one of my signature dishes, Prawn Boudin and Pan Fried Fish with Bisque Sauce, I hope they like it!
After over two weeks on the road I’m starting to look a bit shabby, so I’ve hunted down a cult men-only barber, Hair House Barbershop, owned by Adam Chan.
I’ve been going to the same hair dresser in Sydney for many years so I was a bit nervous but — from the pomade that he makes with edible ingredients, to sharing a sip of beautiful spirits, to the brilliant cut — it was a top experience.
I’m back on the mainland today, my last day in Hong Kong, to try out a quintessential street-food dish — Hong Kong Egg Waffles!
The waffles are usually all about the batter, but today I’m making it about the sauce. Salted Caramel Sauce to be exact.
The woman who runs this hole-in-the-wall shop makes hundreds of egg waffles a day and is a local favourite, but her customers seem to like my sauce too!
Before leaving home I read about Leung Tim Choppers, a must-visit location for any chef to get their knives sharpened. It’s amazing to watch a master treating my tools with such respect and I know my knife kit will be ready for whatever awaits me in Japan!
Tonight I’m flying to Japan so today I’ve been told that I need to take a cable car over to Lantau Island for a slice of tradition I simply won’t get on the mainland. The cable car ride had amazing views but it was a test for my slight fear of heights, so I’m glad when it pulled into the island!
Tai O fishing village, on the north-west corner of Lantau Island, is over 300 years old. In addition to the enormous local cuttlefish on offer there are an abundance of fishermen and seafood eateries.
There is a local custom of buying fish directly from the boats and taking it to one of the restaurants to have them prepare it for you so that’s what I do for lunch.
Hong Kong has been kind to my budget but the next two countries may give it a workout… Bring on Japan! I hope you can join me.
Watch Episode 5 of Around the World with Manu in Australia this Sunday, 6 November 2016 on channel 7TWO.