Top Chef alum Dale Talde blends the ingredients and flavors of Eastern and Western cuisines at Talde, with locations in Brooklyn, Miami and Jersey City. Look for new projects from him this year in New York City.
I was in the Philippines doing an event and I've always wanted to go to Hong Kong. A non-stop flight from the Philippines to Hong Kong is just over two hours, so it was a no brainer. And, to make things better, it just so happened that our business partner at our upcoming restaurant, Rice & Gold, was going to be there at the same time, so it was an awesome trip filled with food and great company.
Some of these places were hard to find, but so worth it. Hong Kong is easy to navigate; the only obstacle was how hot and humid it was there.
Where to Eat
Amazing Pho: Brass Spoon
A small space with a limited menu, Brass Spoon is a Vietnamese restaurant. It serves some of the best versions of Vietnamese food I’ve ever had.
I especially loved the tapioca rice balls with mint pork filling and the fried Vietnamese spring rolls. The pho was amazing – a nice, carefully crafted broth. The best part is there are a variety of add-ons you can get to customize your soup, everything from high quality beef and rare beef to brisket and tendons. I also love that they don’t give you the textbook hoisin and sriracha to doctor up your soup, instead they give you pickled chilies and lime. My wife and I were with some friends and we got there before it opened, so we didn’t have to wait. But once we were seated, there was a line out the door.
Incredible Roast Pork and Top Notch Tempura: Duddell’s
They serve amazing Cantonese food at Duddell's. We had the Roast Suckling Pork on perfect discs of steamed bao–crispy skin and perfectly cooked meat with a smear of hoisin. My mouth is watering thinking about it. We also had their shrimp stuffed cabbage, a kind of tempura fried dum sum. Top notch.
Best Bao and Aged Peking Duck: Mott 32
I loved the décor at Mott 32—sexy, with a New York vibe. Super hip, beautifully designed, and also relatively new, so its very modern as well. It’s located in a big bank building, so it kind of feels like this subterranean hidden gem. It’s also pretty dark in there, so if you don’t like dark establishments, this place might not be for you.
They had a 42-day Dry Aged Peking Duck. You have to order it a day in advance, which some of our friends so graciously did for us. It was definitely worth it. I also had the single best bao I’ve ever had in my life—it was a baked bao with a sugar crust and tender char sui pork. I can’t even explain the flavor and texture of this dish, it was out of this world.
On Point Yakitori: Yardbird
Yardbird’s a yakitori Japanese restaurant. They sent out this chicken liver toast that was just outstanding and their hospitality was super on point as well.
What to Do
There’s no shortage of nightlife and drinking in Hong Kong. The region where we partied, Lan Kwai Fong, was like a Chinese Bourbon Street, with tons of expats and locals. Bungalow was a smaller, more intimate club. It’s great if you just want to be low-key and hang out and party. Think dance music, poppin’ bottles and sofas.
Malls are a great way to escape the heat. IFC is a luxury, high-end mall with an abundance of designer brand stores.
The Hong Kong NIKEiD Store is dope if you’re into shoes like me. You’ll find shoes and gear here that you won’t find in the states. My wife got this awesome windbreaker running jacket here.
The Star Ferry takes you to Kowloon Point, an older region of Hong Kong. The trip is about 10 minutes and doesn’t cost much at all. While you’re on the ferry, you see Victoria Harbor in its entirety, which is amazing. When you get to the other side of Kowloon, there’s lots to discover—sightseeing, temples and a mall with stores and restaurants. Michael White’s restaurant is out there, actually.