I managed to squeeze in one last trip of the year, to Hong Kong, just before Christmas in order to have some much needed “Big City” living and to eat and drink my way around what has to be one of South East Asia’s best dining destinations.
I had heard lots of great things about Ho Lee Fook (which apparently translates as “good fortune for your mouth”) http://holeefookhk.tumblr.com/ a restaurant said to be inspired by the spirit of late night Chinese hangouts of 1960’s New York, and so was excited when I literally stumbled across it on my first night in Hong Kong.
You enter the restaurant via the open kitchen, descending a flight of stairs past a huge wall of manimekko “lucky cats” into a dark and dimly lit restaurant, where all my fellow diners seemed to know each other and clearly felt at home navigating Chef Jowett Yo’s menu, with its irreverent take on Chinese cuisine.
I started with a “Pocari Sweato” cocktail ($108 HKD) made with Campari, gin, umeshu, Pocari, mint, grapefruit and Fever Tree tonic water, a refreshing and tangy drink that came served in a Taiwanese style bubble tea cup, complete with extra wide straw (which may or may not have contributed to how quickly I drank it!) whilst I tried to narrow down what I wanted to try.
Safe to say, Ho lee Fook is definitely best enjoyed with a group of friends, the menu is so substantial and offers so many mouth wateringly good dishes I barely managed to make it off the snack menu on my own. Had I have been with friends I would have been able to enjoy dishes like Grilled Pork Belly, Burnt Cucumber and Endive Salad with Taiwanese Caper Salsa Verde ( $168 HKD) Grilled Calamari, Squid Ink Onion Jam, XO Sauce and Shishito Pepper Spiced Pumpkin Seeds ($128 HKD) or the DIY Pork Sang Choi Bao with Cucumber Kimchi, Chilli Bean Paste, Garlic Stem and Mixed Herbs ($138 HKD) not to mention all the delicious sounding roast meats and vegetable side orders.
As it was, I decided to order the Prawn Toast X Okonomiyaki with Kewpie Mayo, Bull Dog Sauce , Shaved Cabbage and Aonori ($108 HKD) as well as Moms “Mostly Cabbage, a Little Bit of Pork” Dumplings with Sacha Soy Dressing ($98 HKD) and a portion of Fried Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts and Maple Bacon Chilli Jam ($88 HKD) which was far too much and I sadly managed only a paltry piece of the Prawn Toast before admitting defeat.
That’s not to say it wasn’t delicious though! Whilst regular prawn toast can be a little boring, the Ho Lee Fook version is made of deep fried prawn paste with generous chunks of prawn inside. The okonomiyaki toppings of shaved cabbage, aonori seaweed and the tangy bulldog sauce added different levels of flavour to the dish, helping to cut through the richness of the fried prawn paste at the same time and it was with regret I decided it would just be far too greedy to attempt to finish it all.
I absolutely love, love, love dumplings and Moms “mostly cabbage, a little pork” dumplings did not disappoint! I loved the fact that the cabbage still retained some crunch and the pork was beautiful and succulent and worked really well with the fresh chilli and herbs in the soy dressing. No problem finishing these off, none at all!
My last dish was the Brussels spouts, cauliflower and maple bacon chilli jam. The last time I ate Brussels sprouts was on my last trip to Hong Kong, at Little Bao and after seeing them on most of the hipster restaurants menus this time, I can only conclude they are a Hong Kong trend. This is a good thing as far as I am concerned as I am a huge fan, especially when they are as good as this! The sprouts were nicely charred from the stir-fry and the sweet, spicy jam was a great addition to the dish.
With a couple of beers and a good Japanese whisky, my total bill came in at just over $100 USD which although not cheap, was more than worth it for the great evening I experienced. I will definitely go back to Ho Lee Fook next time I visit Hong Kong (hopefully later this year!)
1 Elgin St, Central, Hong Kong