Vicky Lau

“Every restaurant has its own story.” Vicky Lau wants Hong Kong visitors to explore the city’s culinary narrative, from regional Chinese cooking to modern dim sum. A graphic communications graduate, Lau discovered food to be a strong platform for artistic expression and opened her tasting menu restaurant Tate Dining Room in 2012. One year after opening it was awarded one Michelin star, and in 2015 Lau was named Asia’s Best Female Chef by World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
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My Favourite Roast Goose

I love the roast goose at Kam’s Roast Goose. There are a lot of roast goose restaurants in Hong Kong – and I enjoy a lot of them – but most of them don’t pay attention to the rice. It’s sometimes too soggy, but Kam’s does an amazing job. The goose is really juicy, and guests are served a lot of juice which is delicious with the rice. You also get traditional garnishes too, like pickled vegetables and boiled peanuts that have been soaked in soy sauce.

Old-School Cantonese Cooking

崩牙成 is a very traditional restaurant that has been handed down through generations. I remember the father of the current chef cooked at an event for my grandfather once. Just like back in the old days, he only brought a wok and simply cooked with this alone. This is how his son still does it today. He still uses the very old and traditional metal tins that hold charcoal to heat the wok. He cooks fried rice in the wok using heat from the charcoal which is very unique (most people these days use gas). It’s a highlight because the rice absorbs all the flavour from the charcoal giving it an intense smoky flavour. The chef also uses charcoal as a heating system to steam fish. He’s one of only a few people cooking like this that I know of. All chefs will know how hard it is to maintain heat using charcoal and that it’s impossible to replicate the flavour. Nowadays, this flavour is very hard to find in traditional Cantonese food. I also like Seventh Son a lot. It’s traditional Cantonese recipes but with a kind of modern take. It’s just done right, and the quality is amazing.

Hong Kong’s Best Seafood Restaurants

To enjoy seafood in Hong Kong is a very nice experience, and one of the most interesting places to do this is at the North Point Wet Market. There are a few floors in the facility, and one of the floors is where all of the small restaurants are. My favourite is Tung Po. You can buy fresh ingredients straight like live grouper or razor clams straight from the tank and have them cooked how you like. It’s very, very fresh and the way the chefs stir-fry the ingredients gives you the authentic Cantonese flavour. Another great restaurant to eat seafood is Loaf On. It has live seafood tanks, sources products direct from fishermen and, importantly, doesn’t overcook the seafood. In Chinese restaurants I often find that the seafood – especially products like scallops – can be quite overcooked, but here the seafood is cooked very delicately.

…And What To Order

The variety of seafood we have in Hong Kong is wide, but one thing I would recommend people try – and is one of my favourite things to eat – is grouper. We have many different varieties of grouper, but one variety that stands out is what we call the mouse grouper. It has a different texture: it’s very soft and it’s very smooth in the mouth. It’s best cooked on the bone as this helps it stay juicy. Steaming the fish and serving it with a simple garnish like ginger and scallions is delicious. The combination of ingredients creates a lot of freshness, and together with soy sauce and rice, it’s an umami bomb.

Modern Dim Sum That “Makes Sense”

There are many different dim sum styles that are really interesting to explore. For traditional dim sum, I love Fook Lam Moon. These days many dim sum restaurants outsource items, but here everything is made on site. Dim Sum Library is doing a modern take on dim sum, and it’s doing a great job. Everything from the taste to the setting makes sense. The menu has things like steamed lobster buns and xiao long bao (soup dumplings) filled with a spicy peanut pork soup instead of the traditional broth. It’s spicy, it’s sweet, it’s sour: it’s really good. It also has a modern cocktail list that goes well with the dim sum.

Sichuan Food With More Depth Than Heat

In recent years, we’ve had a lot of really good and interesting Sichuan restaurants open in Hong Kong. One of them is Deng G. It has a lot of depth in the food; it’s not only spicy. The chef has a very deep understanding of the importance of creating depth. Every soup and every sauce he creates is so intricate. My favourite thing to eat is the grouper sliced with chili oil. It sounds simple, but there are at least 24 different spices in the oil and different types of chilli that have different functions. It’s amazing.

A Lesson In Tradition

Every restaurant has its own story. And it doesn’t need to be an elaborate story to be good. Like Ser Wong Fun: an old-school restaurant in Central that’s been around for around 100 years. It’s classic Cantonese cooking, but it also makes traditional snake soup. For me, these types of dishes are really interesting and important. I love learning about traditional dishes and studying how and why they became popular and how they survived through the years. If we don’t understand tradition, we cannot move forward to something modern.

The Tastes Of My Childhood

Howard’s Gourmet is a restaurant that has taken the lessons of tradition and created something modern. It cooks Chiu Chow cuisine using very interesting and original ingredients from the Chiu Chow province, but when you see the plating and refinement, it’s really something else. Chiu Chow is where my dad is from, so I grew up eating a lot of Chiu Chow cuisine. You definitely see the influence from the region throughout the menu at Howard’s Gourmet. Chiu Chow food isn’t very spicy and uses a lot of fermentation and products like fish sauce and shrimp paste. There’s also a lot of pickled vegetables and cold fish dishes. Chilled crab is a popular Chiu Chow dish. It’s simply steamed and then left to dry to room temperature. A lot of times it’s eaten with hot congee. Congee is of course something I love to eat. Sang Kee Congee Shop is one of my favourite congee restaurants.

A Very Conveniently Located Cocktail Bar

I like The Old Man a lot because you can try really unique cocktails with everything from whisky infused with seaweed or carrots with guava and gin. It’s really fun and interesting.

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