Mar 08, 2012|
Tuen Mun’s not the first place that comes to mind when you think of food. Located in the northwesterly corner of the New Territories, it’s also not exactly the most accessible location (unless you have a car or live in China). But if you’re willing to get off the couch and explore, you’ll see that you can organize a fantastic foodie tour around the district—from chomping down on succulent roasts to savoring cooked-to-order seafood by the harbor. A friendly word of warning: Tuen Mun ain’t Central, and so most of our recommendations are a bit far-flung and need some advance planning to get to. But trust us—it’s worth it.
Situated on the northeastern side of Tuen Mun, Lam Tei is a rural community with its own Light Rail stop and a whole lot of land. It’s also home to a Michelin-recommended restaurant.
How to get here: From the West Rail line, get off at Siu Hong station, then switch to the Light Rail line and get off at Lam Tei.
It’s rare to see a standalone restaurant in its own two-story building in space-starved Hong Kong, but an exception is Lam Tei’s Farmer Restaurant. Housed in a neat, architecturally distinct pastel green block in an unltra-low-rise community, the six-year-old restaurant dishes out countryside fare— farmers’ specialties that are particular to Lam Tei. Owner Mr. Mak is a Lam Tei native, and residents here prefer to stick to simple, healthier dishes. There’s generally less salt and less oil—and, of course, fresh farm vegetables. At Farmer Restaurant, produce such as eggplants and leafy greens all come from the same farm in nearby Fu Tei Village. Chef Yau sticks to signatures, such as the lotus leaf steamed tofu, a mild, saucy blend of diced velvety bean curd with corn, chopped prawns and green pepper. The five-colored rice is another specialty, consisting of steamed wheat grains, red grains, vinegar rice, sticky rice and black sticky rice, all mixed with white rice and a touch of salt, sugar and oil. Occasionally, Yau will spice things up with international dishes, such as the double-boiled bak kut teh (a Malaysian-style broth) with Chinese herbs, pork legs, chicken feet and shitake mushrooms. But most of the menu is classic, rural Cantonese comfort food.
Block C, Lam Tei Mei Ling Court, Castle Peak Road, Tuen Mun, 2461-2381.
This dim sum-slash-siu mei (roast meat) restaurant was thrown into the spotlight in 2011 when it made it into the venerable Michelin guide with a “bib gourmand” stamp of approval—meaning that the food’s not just good, it’s also good value for money. The place is well-known for its roast suckling pig ($520) with crispy red skin, served whole (yes, including the head) with the body intact even though it’s cut into bite-sized pieces. The pig lies on top of a platter of fried rice with dried prawns, and it really is a group effort to finish the whole thing. The restaurant recommends ordering at least a day in advance, so remember to plan ahead. But if suckling pig isn’t your thing, you can still tuck into the restaurant’s various roasted meats with rice, including char siu, regular roast pork, chicken and goose. Dine at the buzzing, no-frills restaurant, or simply order a takeaway portion from the counter outside.
1 Lam Tei Main St., Tuen Mun, 2462-7038.
Besides a massive residential complex, a yacht club and a pristine beach with Hainan-imported sand, the Gold Coast—on the western tip of Tuen Mun—is home to one of the only resort hotels in our city, and within it, an award-winning Chinese restaurant with kickass dim sum.
How to get here: There’s a regularly scheduled shuttle bus from Tsim Sha Tsui and other pick-up points that’ll bring you straight to the Gold Coast Hotel. Check the full schedule: tinyurl.com/GoldCoastShuttle.
Yue is a signature brand of the Sino group of hotels, and specifically focuses on traditional Chinese cuisine with a bit of modern tweaking. The restaurant’s dim sum has garnered accolades at the 2011 Hong Kong Tourism Board’s “Best of the Best” awards, and we can see why. Take the simple har gow: the skins are meticulously folded into 18 creases (an impressive feat for any chef) while maintaining a resilient, firm texture. Coupled with a crispy and fluffy taro puff and a rich, yolky custard bun, the trio is a winning combo that the restaurant proudly showcases in a special $48 set. Apart from the dim sum, the restaurant also offers creative Chinese casserole dishes. Try the indulgent baked crab shell stuffed with fresh crabmeat, mushroom and onion served on a gold crab-shaped plate, or the textured seared star garoupa with fish maw and truffle sauce served atop a triple-layered vegetable puree combo. There’s also a mildly sweet and highly soothing double-boiled almond soup with fish maw and pork tendon, and a variation of the popular sweet-and-sour prawns—the prawns at Yue are dipped in a just-thick-enough layer of egg wash right before deep-frying, then coated in a zesty pomelo sauce right after. Enjoy all this in a spacious, brightly lit banquet hall for a true Cantonese experience.
LG/F, Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel, 1 Castle Peak Rd., Gold Coast, 2452-8668.
One great thing about Tuen Mun being in the boonies is that there’s plenty of space to go around. Naturally, this translates into an abundance of outdoor barbecue pits, and Tai Lam Chung village in the eastern corner of Tuen Mun is one of the more popular grill-and-chill destinations around here.
How to get here: There are plenty of minibuses and buses that will bring you to Tai Lam Chung from Kowloon side. There’s a red minibus from Jordan MTR station exit A, and buses 962, 52X, 53, 61M and K51 all pass through Tai Lam Chung.
A popular gathering ground in the area is Tai Lam Chung BBQ Park, where you and your friends can hang around for the whole day for only $88 per head from Monday to Friday, and $98 on weekends and public holidays. This one-off fee includes a bottle of water, a drink and an all-you-can-eat spread of fish balls, marinated chicken, fish, pork and all the other standard staples of a Hong Kong-style barbecue. An extra $10 to $20 will get you a grill to use for the whole day. The space itself is neat, sheltered and well-lit; equipment such as barbecue forks and charcoal are all included. You can also rent bikes, badminton equipment, soccer balls and ping-pong tables by the hour to make full use of your trip here.
385 Tai Lam Tung Rd., Tai Lam Chung Village, Tuen Mun, 2613-1811, www.yl.hk/tlcbbq.
If the word “seafood” makes you salivate like a pup at Pavlov’s bell, then Sam Shing Estate is the place to be. A fresh alternative to the usual seafood suspects of Sai Kung and Lamma, the estate consists of a long strip of fresh seafood stalls located conveniently along the waterfront. If you’re lucky, you’ll even see fishermen pulling up their catch by the harborside piers. Head over to any of the stalls and take your pick of fresh fish, lobster and bivalves. Your catch will cost you anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to over a thousand, depending on the size of your group. Then head on to one of the restaurants in the area to cook up your purchases for the real feast.
How to get here: Take the West Rail, alight at Siu Hong Station, then hop onto the Light Rail and get off at Sam Shing Station.
Even though it’s surrounded by marine-themed eateries, Hing Kee, surprisingly, specializes in roast goose. Of course, if you want to get the crabs, the clams and jumbo prawns here, no one’s stopping you—but the staff rather honestly tells us there’s nothing worth mentioning at the resto except for their dark brown, meticulously roasted goose. Sold at $360 for a whole animal and $180 for half, you’re advised to order in advance or at least get there before 8pm on any given night to ensure availability.
Shop 2, G/F, Cooked Food Plaza, Sam Shing Estate, Tuen Mun, 2458-8637.
Newly renovated and complete with a wine shelf at the back, Nam Kee is one of the mainstays on the Sam Shing Estate circuit. Having been around for 20-plus years, the restaurant has developed a stable following and a bunch of signature dishes that customers just know they need to order once they get here. Nam Kee doesn’t stock any of its own seafood, so you’ll need to go over to the outdoor seafood market and make your picks first—do ask proprietors Chan Chi-ming or Gary Wong for advice if you’re stuck (but make sure someone in your group speaks Cantonese). We recommend getting some jumbo prawns for Chef Lok to transform into a baked cheese dish (kinda like lobster thermidor). The Thai chili pepper crab is another signature; it’s a moister, spicier version than you’d get at other Chinese seafood restaurants. Also go for the soup with abalone, jinhua ham, chicken and fresh pork. Nam Kee’s non-seafood dishes are also worth trying, including the fried black pepper beef strips and crispy pineapple pork.
Shop 5, Cooked Food Plaza, Sam Shing Estate, Tuen Mun, 2451-1698.