After 3 weeks of anticipation, James and I, along with our newly engaged friends Tom and Ann (yay!) spent last night in foodie paradise, eating our way through Hong Kong's premier gourmet food festival.
We met Tom and Ann at Central station after a morning of dragon boat training in Discovery Bay, followed by a brief visit to Disneyland to collect this week's exclusive magic access Easter pin in the afternoon. Despite the fact it had been sunny and gorgeous for the majority of the day, when we emerged at Central Harbourfront it was windy, grey and looking pretty bleak! Luckily the weather held out.
There were tonnes of very chic, very 'in' restaurants exhibiting dishes from their own menus, most of which we had never heard of - but mostly because hey are all based on Hong Kong Island and we only venture off Lantau for specific reasons. To be honest we're glad that was the case because it meant that on top of the quirky twists on well loved dishes, everything we ate that night was completely new to us, which made the evening much more enjoyable! We didn't get to try everything, but everything that we did try was delightful.
After scoping out our options by lapping the whole festival ground once, we decided that our first stop would be The New Punjab Club. James didn't have anything, but Tom and Ann both had Samosa Chaat (smashed samosas, crispy noodles, tamarind glaze and yoghurt) and Amristsari Machli (chick pea-battered river fish, dill raita and mustard chutney), while I had the Keema Pau (spiced mutton, milk bun and crisp potatoes). They were amazing! I was pretty hungry at that point so something hearty with so much flavour was just what I needed. I loved the Keema Pau so much that I've told James that we're definitely going to New Punjab Club and having more!
Next up, James and I had a miniature version (I hope!) of Bubbledog's The Duddelldog (pork frankfurter topped wth Hong Kong style Sweet n' Sour pork featuring pineapple & peppers). For HKD$95, we were expecting something a bit bigger than a 2-bite hot dog, but that aside it was immense! We loved the fact that it combined such a basic western food with a classic Hong Kong dish. We really didn't expect it to work, but would definitely have it again and hopefully more than a bite!
While Tom and Ann went on a hunt for drinks, James had a Pork Belly Bao (braised pork belly, shiso leek salad, sesame dressing and hoisin ketchup) while I enjoyed a Pineapple Fried Ice Cream Bao (pineapple ice cream, mango, banana and white chocolate) from Little Bao. For those who don't speak Mandarin/Cantonese, 'bao' means bun. It was really cool how again they took the concept of classic Hong Kong pork belly buns and turned into something that resembled a burger, keeping the soft, squishy texture of the traditional buns. I love how they applied the same concept to the fried ice cream too! Fried ice cream is something that we've both been dying to try so we were really excited to finally do so. Keeping in theme, it plays on Hong Kong's classic pineapple bun with the deep fried batter buns with the pineapple ice cream, mango, banana and white chocolate between them like a burger. Heavenly.
Tom and Ann came back with a pint of mead from Gosnells and a pint of Hangry Donut from Heroes Beer Co. I don't usually have beer because it makes me bloat really badly and I just don't really like the taste, but I ended up getting my own pint of Hangry Donut, sampling Gosnells' Elderflower and Gooseberry mead and buying another pint of The Bees Knees. It's not for everyone, but for someone who loves a sweet drink, I was very happy. Stocked up on drinks, we walked around the festival grounds chatting and checking out the plethora of booths, the sound stage (where my friends The Carpio Brothers were performing!) and Taste Theatre taking in the overall vibe.
On a small tangent, I'd like to give a big shoutout Deliveroo for basically saving me that night! It's a funny story. As one of the sponsors, they had a booth in the centre of the grounds with a minigame. You could win a small, medium or large prize, the large prize being a pillow or a blanket. Because it had been hot for most of the day, I'd gone out in a spaghetti strap top but forgotten a sweater. So 2 hours in the wind plus a cold beer later, I was absolutely freezing and determined to acquire the blanket. Alas, I only won the pen and notepad (which is pretty cool still, I love free stuff). I tried to ask the nice lady if I could buy a blanket because I was so cold - and she gave one to me! So thank you, Deliveroo lady, I will never forget your kindness.
Happily (but not surprisingly), I still had room for more food! While we were watching the Carpio Brothers on stage, I managed to find the best deal on parma ham in the world - I paid HKD$60 for a whole trough of it! James and I were so excited and busy eating that we forgot to take a picture! After that, Ann and I were craving pasta so we hit up Pici for some Tagliono Truffle (shaved truffle and white truffle paste)which was immense. Again, no picture because I was too busy gobbling it up!
Our last stop was for dessert, of course, something we'd been saving since the start! We had a selection of 6 beautiful dessert canapés from Poem Patisserie that were "inspired by dim sum and traditional Chinese dessert soup, prepared using french pasty techniques," and "embody elements of Hong Kong in them... to draw your memories and will remind you to celebrate the unique and beautiful city we live in." We had two Hong Kong Style Waffles, one Whiskey Chocolate, one Honey, one Milk Chocolate Red Date and one Iron Buddha Tea. They were all delightful and made for a fun little tasting activity between the four of us.
Overall, Taste of Hong Kong 2018 was a great experience for us and we will definitely be returning to the next one - but next we're looking forward to going to Ocean Park's Drink'N Music Festival this Friday March 30th!
Lastly, thank you again to everyone who joined our Taste of Hong Kong ticket giveaway! We hope to hold more contests and giveaways in the future, so stay tuned.