Sometimes it is hard to find a decent, reasonable alfresco places on Hong Kong Island. Therefore I often keep a few places close to my heart and Koh Thai at Wan Chai is one of them. One early evening I was at a bit of a loose end so decided to head there for a work-cum-leisure dinner.
The restaurant is located one level above ground, so you are spared from the usual dust and noise from the street. You walk into the terrace after climbing a flight of stairs, and pass those Buddha statues, it is like stepping into another world.
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It has been quite sometime since I last wrote about my delicious Thai meal at Amporn at Kowloon City. Though I continue to venture out to town for Thai food, in my books nothing can beat this down-to-earth, rather authentic Thai food located at the top floor of Kowloon City wet market. I was there again one evening for dinner and am pleased to report that the food is still good as well. Without going into too much details, here are some of the stuff you must try.
Red prawn sashimi remains my firm favourite, with its unique combination of raw succulent shrimp meat and golden, crunchy tail fried to perfection. The chili sauce is still as fiery as ever.
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If you ask a local where to get great Thai food in Hong Kong, inevitably they will recommend that you take the road less traveled to Kowloon City, where a great number of Thai eateries line up its streets. After living here for some four years (wow, time flies!) I had to say that I agree. But to find a gem amongst the many somewhat mediocre Thai restaurants require steadfast determination and more than a dose of luck.
It was with both that one day I found myself at the third floor of a wet market digging into mounds of great food at Amporn Thai food.
I have been to Amporn two times now, and I have tried enough dishes on its menu to know what is good enough to be on your list of must-trys, and what is to be avoided at all cost.
MUST TRY – deep fried cat fish with sour mango salad. The deep fried cat fish is a work of genius. It was crispy without being overly oily, and went perfectly well with the sweet and sour mango salad. The contrast of texture made this a very refreshing dish, enough to tempt one for a second (or third, or fourth) helpings despite being filled to the brim.
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So after some misses with Na Thai, I was finally able to make pay a visit for dinner one weekend night. Na Thai has been on my foodie radar for some time, and I do need a great Thai food spot to nurse that occasional craving. It is rather near to my place, and came recommended by a fellow food lover. Her recommendation has yet to stray far from being excellent, and this time it was no different.
Yum Pla Duk Fu – Deep Fried Crispy Crayfish (HK$95)
The star of the night. I was half expecting whole pieces of crayfish deep fried, but what turned out was a complete surprise. The bits of crayfish were fried to a golden crisp, almost like meat floss. Tossed with a refreshing spicy mango salad and peanuts, the contrast of texture and flavour was nothing short of intoxicating. I liked that, unlike many other Thai salad, the mango salad wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy. The sour in the green mango was nicely complemented by the bits of cili padi. Be warned though – it’s unlikely that one person can finish the whole dish, so play nice and share.
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There’s no other word for it – it’s shameful for me not to know good, cheap eats around my workplace in Causeway Bay. Partly because I hardly lunch out – I find the office crowd maddening – but sometimes a gem of a find come onto my radar, as has New Bangkok which I had the pleasure to try out today!
Try as I might to get in quiet and early, the Thai restaurant was already teeming with customers. At first I wasn’t too pleased when the waitress asked me to stand right next to a table which was about to finish. I mean, I won’t do to others what I don’t want others to do to me. So I said I will wait outside… where I studied the menu and realised why the place was so popular.
Fried rice with thai shrimp paste
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When you think of Thai food, what comes across your mind? Tom yum goong, phad thai, papaya salad, seafood curry… there is something almost magical the way Thai food seems to enthrall tourists and locals alike. When I return home from holidays in Thailand, I always seem to be nursing an endless craving for Thai food. Well, if you can’t have the real land of a thousand smile, you can always get its food.
Thai food in Hong Kong is plentiful and varied, from the authentic to the localised, from the superb to the disappointing, along every point of the price scale. When one think of Thai food in Hong Kong, you’ll be excused to think of the usual suspects in Kowloon City, arguably the most Thai-influenced area in Hong Kong.
So when this Groupon deal came along, I was surprised. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised to discover that, yes, there are plenty of Thai restaurants in Tsim Sha Tsui too. And at that price – $148 for unlimited Thai BBQ for two – it was hard not to click that “Buy Now!” button.
So I did. Pattaya Your Thai Restaurant was an adventure to get too. First of all, they changed its name. And then we were informed that they changed their location, too. Google Map was a little useless, and the drizzling rain that afternoon we went didn’t help our grumpiness.
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There is a little Thailand in every country. Everyone loves a little bit of that culture, food and hospitality from the Land of A Thousand Smiles, so it was a delight for me to walk down the Thailand “town” in Hong Kong, located roughly along two main streets in Kowloon City.
We were starving and were desperate for some Thai food. Our first choice was closed until 6 p.m. – I won’t blame them; afterall, who in Hong Kong have dinner at 5-ish in the afternoon? – so we settled for the next tiny restaurant with the curious name of Pee Long Thai.
The eatery itself looked promising. A tiny shop with a handful of tables and wait staff speaking in perfect Thai and surprisingly good Cantonese. We settled down at a rickety table, full of anticipation for some Thai goodies.
But alas, we were in for a disappointment.
Thai Tom Yum Goong
No one in the right mind having Thai food would give this famous dish a miss. Pee Long Thai did this pretty decently. It wasn’t as spicy as it looks, probably because the taste was attuned to the local tongue, but both my friend and I agreed that the soup lacked that punch. Which is surprising, because there were two Thai women manning the (somewhat) open kitchen, and you would think they could do a punchier job.
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I have been meaning to write about my Bangkok trip in September, detailing what happened day by day. But after a lapse of some two months and, coupled by the fact that how my seven days in Bangkok blurred into each other, it would probably be more worthwhile for yours truly to focus on the more blogworthy aspects of my trip in September.
Of course, top of my list is FOOD!
To my surprise, Bangkok has more to offer than just the good old Thai food. Perhaps that’s because the last time I visited was in 2006. My spending power was considerably less, so I don’t get too many options to spoil myself with.
But this trip was different. I get to try, try, and keep trying.
Seafood Dinner @ Bangkok’s Chinatown
Easily the best meal for the trip was the first night when we headed down to Bangkok’s Chinatown for a huge dinner of seafood. The wait wasn’t that long, the crowd was jolly, the service was friendly, and all of us were in great spirit.
All those, of course, would be pointless if the food were less than spectacular. For about HKD100 per person, every dish was good till the last drop.
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