I realized recently that I’ve traveled to Hong Kong every two years since 2013, mainly because I use the city – one of my favorites – as a jumping off point to explore other parts of Asia (and Australia).
In 2013, I did Hong Kong, Singapore and Phuket. In 2015, I did Hong Kong, Sydney and the Philippines. In 2017, I did Hong Kong, Bali and Japan. And this year, I recently returned from Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand (Bangkok and Phuket).
Each trip to Asia gives me so many great experiences that I know I’ll never forget, and this year’s Asian adventures were no exception.
One of those memorable experiences: THE FOOD. Wow, I ate so exceptionally well in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand that I’m tempted to say every meal was my favorite, but I know I can’t (can I?).
So, to keep this blog post short, I’m sharing my absolute favorite food experiences from my recent trip, in chronological order. Warning: you may notice (carbs) a theme (a lotta carbs) in this list (endless carbs):
Lamb Dan Dan Noodles and Mom’s Dumplings at Ho Lee Fook in Hong Kong
Ho Lee Fook is located in the Soho neighborhood in Hong Kong (which is basically expat central) and is a popular hotspot, to say the least. When I went, the wait for a party of two was about 45 minutes to an hour. By the time I came back for our table, the wait for a party of two was an hour and a half to two hours (many an expat turned away disgruntled). And this was on a Tuesday. But, it’s absolutely worth it. I loved mom’s “mostly cabbage, a little pork” dumplings and found the flavors of the lamb dan dan noodles to be very unique. Just make sure you go early.
Wok Shrimp in Wonton Rolls and Braised Clay Pot Pork at Streets Restaurant in Hoi An, Vietnam
While looking up where to eat in Hoi An, I kept coming across Streets Restaurant and knew I had to try this place. Streets isn’t your typical dining establishment; rather it’s a social enterprise and culinary and hospitality training program that works with disadvantaged young adults. Aside from its great mission, the food is excellent. I loved the wonton rolls and was surprised by how flavorful the braised clay pot pork with quail eggs and steamed rice tasted. I highly recommend a stop here for anyone visiting Hoi An.
Spring Rolls, Sautéed Lemongrass Chicken and Braised Pork at Bep Hen in Da Nang, Vietnam
After a failed attempt at joining a Da Nang food tour, I started researching where to have lunch in Da Nang since this was my only day in Vietnam’s third largest city. Enter Bep Hen. I saw it on a few lists, read the rave reviews and decided this was the place. And it certainly did not let me down. First of all, the multi-level restaurant has beautiful, charming decor that makes you want to take lots of pictures (but you have to be mindful of the other diners, of course). Then there’s the food, which came out piping hot and full of flavor. We ended up getting sooo much and it only cost the equivalent of $12 🙌🏾
Larb and Steamed Sea Bass in a Green Chili and Lime Sauce at Toh Plue in Bangkok, Thailand
This was my very first true meal in Thailand, at a restaurant in the middle of Chatachuk Weekend Market, and it packed a serious punch. The heat of the pork larb alone (yes, I admittedly had quite a bit of pork in Asia) had me sweating a little, but I couldn’t get enough. I also Loved, with a capital L, the steamed sea bass in a green chili and lime sauce. If I were to channel my inner Top Chef host, I’d say the acidity of the lime, combined with the heat of the green chilis and the flavor of the garlic and other ingredients blended together to create a truly exceptional dish.
Pad Thai, Green Curry Chicken, Tom Yum Soup and Mango with Sticky Rice at Maliwan Thai Cooking Class in Bangkok, Thailand
Though I had pad thai on more than one occasion during my time in Thailand, it was the pad thai that I made that tasted the best. That’s not to toot my own horn to make it sound like I make the best pad thai in all the land. Rather, I had a fabulous instructor who taught me how to make some amazing pad thai, along with the best green curry chicken I’ve ever had, some terrific tom yum soup, and mango with sticky rice for dessert. I couldn’t have asked for a better cooking experience, and I definitely recommend Maliwan Thai Cooking Class and their awesome instructor Mae.
Deep Fried Sea Bass with Thai Chili Sauce and Khao Soy at Silk in Phuket, Thailand
Similar to Bangkok, I had some great meals in Phuket, but my favorite was the deep fried sea bass with thai chill sauce and the khao soy at Silk. I LOVE khao soy. I had it for the first time years ago at my favorite Thai spot in Queens, New York, and it’s still one of my favorite Thai dishes today. The version at Silk was no exception, but let’s talk about that Thai chili sauce. I could have swam in it… sticky, but true. And that sauce on top of the crispy fried sea bass? It was perfection.
So, there you have it: lots of carbs with some pork and the occasional sea bass thrown in the mix.
I ate so much more than the above (SO much more), but these meals were definitely the ones I’ll be thinking about (and probably talking about) for years to come.
I’m already looking forward to my 2021 return to Asia 😊