Does anyone remember the Taco Bell commercials talking about the fourth meal? We did one better. While I was searching for places to eat in Hong Kong, I wanted to eat at a few places off the beaten path. These places could be anything, snacks, light meals, odd things. I consulted www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurants and found a place called Ichiran. After a little research, I found Forbes dubbed Ichiran one of the world’s best ramen. That’s some high praise there. Lucky for us, there was an Ichiran nearby our hotel. I woke us up early to shake off the jet lag and ventured over to Ichiran for breakfast. There are two things that I absolutely love eating for breakfast, one is pizza and the other is ramen.
Here is my review of Ichiran. Finding the restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui isn’t easy, it’s located in a basement off a side road. Google maps is absolutely the worst. When we got in the vicinity of Ichiran, the map would disconnect and stop working. After wandering a bit since we were close, I spotted a dead end street and the restaurant. Normally a restaurant in basement located in a dead end street would set off the “Are you kidding me alarms?” But two sources can’t be wrong could it? We were the first patrons in and already I had the sense of dread. I had expected a line. The host told us to sit anywhere and handed us sheets of paper. I looked at the walls and there were Japanese written items with prices. Service wasn’t one of the strong points, but I was expecting it to be. We flagged down our waiter and he happily told us how things worked. You customize your flavors, you could choose broth flavor, garlic level, spicy level, ramen texture, and add ons. We ordered our meal and he pointed to some water faucets and said water is there. Wow, service is really different in Hong Kong. Another thing that I already knew is that you need to bring your own tissues for a number of reasons, one being you needed it for meals. Our food arrived fast and I quickly inspected it. It looked fine, decent portions, broth was a little cloudy like how it is supposed to be, and it had a nice garlicky smell. I chose the add on, which they provided on the side and carefully tossed it in. First bite, heaven. The broth was spot on, noodles had the right chewiness, pork was from a belly cut, and the soft boiled egg was perfect, half runny. I also ordered a matcha beer, which can be seen in the picture above. It went well with the meal, but I would recommend passing on it. Beer and green tea just isn’t my thing.
After breakfast we decided to do a little shopping. It was still a little early before the retail stores opened, so we went to the grocery store to pick up some snacks. Oh my! This was going to be a problem. When we stopped in 7-11 the night before, I saw some different flavored snacks but it was contained to a small section of the aisle. This place had aisles upon aisles of choices. There was a section with regular Hong Kong snacks, a section with Japanese, a section with Korean, a British section. It was too bad we couldn’t sample things, otherwise we would have bought more than we did. I’ll do a separate review of the snacks. We walked around the mall and stumbled upon a food court. There was a stall that did desserts. I purposely did not try and fill up at Ichiran because I wanted to snack. I ordered the tried and true black sesame paste soup with sweet tofu, Peggy ordered mango sago, and Kaela had watermelon juice. I found a neighboring stall with Takoyaki (aka octopus balls). Everything was good, I found the Takoyaki different than the ons I had in the US. The Takoyaki was more melt in your mouth than the chewy version. With bellies full, arms weighed down with shopping bags, and feeling jet lagged we decided to drop everything off at the hotel and relax a bit.
Big mistake, once we got back to the hotel, none of us wanted to go out for lunch. We were tired and had a huge bounty of snacks to munch on. Good thing I had another trip advisor find in mind. Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai, is known for their Shanghai buns. You may have heard of or had Shanghai dumplings before, but these are the cousin. The inside ingredients are the same, but instead of a dumpling wrapper, Shanghai buns are stuffed in dough and have the pan fried bottom that you see on potstickers. Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai is Michelin rated.
Kaela and I quequed up in line for the Shanghai bao. The line moved quickly and the service was pretty much what you get from a fast food place. Cashier takes your order and hands you the food, next in line. We ordered one order of the standard pork, one order of shrimp, and two pieces of the black truffle. We hurried back to the hotel to see what all the fuss with the Shanghai bao was about. There was no seating at the restaurant and most of the patrons stood there in the alley to eat their Shanghai bao. I hate eating while standing. It feels wrong to me. Even if I am in a hurry, I like to sit when I eat. First bite into the Shanghai bao and OMG, the juice inside squirted all over. Normally with Shanghai dumplings, the juice dribbles out. This was an explosion of juice. Thinking it was an anomaly, I watched Kaela and Peggy eat theirs. Same thing, explosion of juice. The place definitely deserved the Michelin rating.