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6 Lunches for under $60 in Central and Sheung Wan


Central, as you may have guessed from its name, is one of Hong Kong's epicentres in terms of shops, offices and eateries. Having my offices in Central is both a blessing and a curse, as there are far too many nice shops and restaurants to patronise during my lunch break! It can be a pretty expensive place to be in the long term though, so I thought I'd share some of my favourite cheap eats around Central and nearby Sheung Wan for the days when you're on a budget but still crave an hour away from your desk. I am, of course, open to any other recommendations...

G/F, 2 Bonham Strand East, Sheung Wan / 2253 1113 / noodle-mi.com

A small Vietnamese restaurant that serves the tastiest MSG-free pho in the area. I go at least once a week for the Grilled Pork Neck Pho ($58, top left), but their Turmeric Whitefish, Scallion and Dill ($60) and Grilled Five Spice Pork Scallion and Crispy Shallot ($58) are also firm favourites.

Shop 6A, G/F, Sen Fat Building, 6 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan / 2234 5505 / www.k-roll.com.hk

K-Roll is a stone's throw away from Noodlemi and a quicker option if you don't have time to sit down, slurp noodles and savour fried fish. The short menu consists of Korean lunch staples, including Korrito Rolls that are similar to sushi rolls ($58, I recommend Tonkatsu, top right), their signature K-Roll ($48, I'd go for the marinated beef Bugolgi), and Dukbokki rice cakes ($48). 

Kenko Syokuhin Ramen (健康食品拉麵)
Shops B-D, G/F, Welley Building, 97 Wellington Street, Central / 2328 6227 / OpenRice Webpage

The Chinese translation of this Japanese ramen joint literally means "healthy noodles", and is a new favourite sit-down of mine. They mainly serve delicious ramen (middle left), but the Pan-Fried Dumplings with Rice and Soup is a great value lunch set coming in at $58. On Fridays though, I tend to splurge and go for the Beauty Set or Pure Set ($80 each), which are ramen in flavoursome veggie-based broths that also come with a side salad and Yakult! 

Dim Sum Square
27 Hillier Street (entrance on Jervois Street), Sheung Wan / 2851 8088 / OpenRice Webpage 

The best value dim sum I've found in the area is Dim Sum Square. $60 buys you more than anywhere else on this page: BBQ Pork Buns ($14, middle right); Siu Mai Dumplings ($16); Chicken and Preserved Sausage Rice ($18); and Fried Turnip Cake ($12). As the food is excellent value and of a decent quality, there tends to be queues around the block, so my advice is to go before 12.30 or after 1.30 to miss the lunch crowds.

Mak's Noodles (麥奀雲吞麵世家)
77 Wellington Street, Central / 2854 3810 / OpenRice Webpage

Mak's Noodle is a long-time Hong Kong establishment, and serves one of the best and most authentic wontons in town. If it's your first visit, be sure to try their signature Wonton Noodles ($33, bottom left). Not feeling noodles but still crave dumplings and broth? Go for the Wonton Shuigau double dumpling bonanza ($36) instead. 

Mana! Fast Slow Food
92 Wellington Street, Central / 2851 1611 / mana.hk

If I'm feeling a bit sluggish or need a bit of a health kick, Mana! is my go-to for a quick pick me up. I tend to grab half an organic wholemeal flatbread, like the MANA! Joy ($45+$12, with zaatar, avocado, garlicnaise, tomato and mint with added halloumi), and hang out at the communal table outside for a little while to wind down before heading to work. They also serve a refreshing Lemonade ($40) that's made with lemon, coconut nectar, stevia and a kick of cayenne pepper.

If you work around Causeway Bay, check out Sassy Hong Kong for their 6 Lunches for under $60!

Weekly Chow


Support a worthy cause; donate a little towards the Drinkable Book of water filters for the developing world! (waterislife.com)

Find out exactly why food in adverts look better than the food you're served... (cnbc.com)

Seriously, people - you did not eat that oversized pizza or burger; stop trying to fake it! (nymag.com)

How one woman was turned away from a restaurant for not being sexy enough, and why it was worth speaking up. (guardian.com)

There's more to maraschino than the cherry - it's a classic liqueur too! (nytimes.com)

Do you really have a choice when it comes to shopping at the supermarket? (huffingtonpost.com)

P.S. Get the scoop on the £1,000 doughnut! Would you pay such an exorbitant price for it?

Homemade Chow: White Chocolate Chai


I first discovered the indulgence that is white chocolate chai during my first visit to a Max Brenner in Manly, Sydney, and it's remained one of my favourite ways to enjoy chai. After my Australian Christmas two years ago, I have been searching high and low for the perfect recipe, and thought I had it sussed when I blogged about it previously here. I've since discovered Max Brenner's own recipe from his choco-cookbook, Chocolate: A Love Story, which is near flawless, and made a few tiny adjustments of my own after making it a couple of times (soy is actually not a bad replacement!) - give it a go when you're in need of a little something sweet...

Max Brenner's White Chocolate Chai
Makes 4 cups

1/2 cup Whole milk (Soy milk if lactose intolerant)
12 ounces White chocolate (chopped)
4 Chai tea bags
2 cups Water (boiling hot)
A dash of Cinnamon (ground, or a small stick)

1. Bring the milk to boil in a pan, and pour over the chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl. Let the milk sit for c.1 minute until the chocolate begins to soften, then stir the mixture until smooth.

2. Steep the tea bags in boiling water for 4 minutes; slightly longer if you prefer a stronger flavour. Discard the tea bags and whisk in the chocolate milk. Add in a dash of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick into each cup, and serve immediately.

Image courtesy of Max Brenner.

Weekly Chow


24 brilliantly inspiring female food and agriculture journalists you should follow. (civileats.com)

Whiskey flavoured bacon is about to become a reality... (templetonryeporkproject.com)

7 of the best rooftop bars around the world, for your bucket lists and viewing pleasure! (tatler.com)

Food is for consumption, except when being used to create branding concepts. (cutlasercut.com)

Would you read artfully presented critical essays on your coffee cup? If your answer is yes, you will love Chipotle's latest initiative! (vanityfair.com)

Cooking for one? Chefs and food bloggers share their favourite solo suppers. (independent.co.uk)

P.S. All restaurants should consider implementing this discount! #genius

Weekly Chow


The art of lunch, as demontrated by Cai Guo-Qiang, Marianne Vitale and Urs Fischer. (nytimes.com)

From Babette's Feast to Ratatouille, here are some of my favourite food films to date. (time.com)

A drink that replaces our meals has been invented. Is this the end of food? (newyorker.com)

Pro bartenders share their best substitutes for expensive bottles and ingredients! (seriouseats.com)

Traveleaters, check out these international dining tips to avoid meal time mishaps. (budgettravel.com)

Chiltern Firehouse continues to reign supreme in the London dining scene. (tatler.com)

P.S. The synopsis for Ruth Reichl's new novel Delicious! is scarily similar to my life...

Homemade Chow: Gwyneth's Beet and Bean Salad


As part of Gwyneth Paltrow's recent trip to Hong Kong, she shared a couple of recipes that she'd prepared at home and also showcased on her lifestyle website goop. My favourite is a simple salad idea that is light, summery and vibrant - The Beet and Bean "B&B" Salad - which I've tested myself and simplified below for you to try. I hope you enjoy the crunch as much as I did!

The Beet and Bean Salad
Serves 4

4 Heirloom beets (washed)
160g Green or mixed beans
20g Pine nuts (toasted)
5g Parsley (chopped)
20g Shallots (chopped)
10g Dijon Mustard
30ml White wine vinegar
80ml Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to season
A few sprigs of Baby beetroot leaves (optional)
A few sprigs of Baby Sorrel (optional)

1. Steam beets for 40 minutes, or roast in an oven at 180 degrees Celsius in a pan with some olive oil and salt (be sure to cover the beets if roasting to ensure they retain their moisture). Beets should be easily speared with a fork when ready.

2. As the beets cook, mix the shallots, parsley, mustard and vinegar together. Slowly whisk in the rest of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Blanch the beans briefly and add them into the mix.

3. When the beets have cooled, slice them thinly, season with salt and pepper, and arrange them in a single layer on each plate. Top with beans and leftover marinaded shallot, and sprinkle the pine nuts and baby herbs to finish.

Image courtesy of LANDMARK.

Weekly Chow


Noma regained it's title as the world's best restaurant, but does the ranking mean as much nowadays? (theworlds50best.com)

Do you need to eat more fibre? Yes, and here's why... (guardian.com)

The inside track on how to manage Jason Atherton's global restaurant empire. (eater.com)

Coca Cola have turned recycling into a game over in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (youtube.com)

The coffee chain culture has taken off across Britain. Next stop, world domination? (telegraph.co.uk)

Lime juice is now twice the price of tequila. Quick, grab those Margaritas soon! (qz.com) 

P.S. 16 impressively named hot sauces to impress your friends with over Cinco de Mayo!

A Dinner Date with Gwyneth Paltrow


An Oscar-winning actress, mother of two, fashion icon and lifestyle maven with three cookbooks to her name. Resumés don't get much more intimidating impressive than that of Gwyneth Paltrow's.

The Hollywood starlet was in Hong Kong last week as a guest of LANDMARK, and also took the opportunity to promote her latest cookbook It's All Good and her lifestyle website goop during her short trip. During a media briefing, Paltrow dished on her love of Asian food, and revealed that her favourite Asian cuisine was Korean - "kimchi is like the best thing in the world"! She also takes inspiration from Southeast Asian cooking as much of the dishes are dairy- and gluten-free whilst still being incredibly flavoursome. I can't say I disagree, having moved back to Hong Kong from London myself and quite easily removed 80% of dairy from my diet.

Later that day, I was lucky enough to be sat three seats away of Gwyneth herself at a special dinner hosted by LANDMARK in her honour. We were treated not only to the pleasure of Paltrow's ebullient company (in spite of jet lag and recent uncoupling), but also to a bespoke menu that was put together by some of Hong Kong's finest chefs. Richard Ekkebus of Amber contributed a wonderfully light Alaskan crab appetiser, and Umberto Bombana of 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo delivered the most tender Piedmontese Fassone veal tenderloin, but my pick of the night was a tangy crispy tiger prawn by Chef Kelvin Wong of Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant The Square. All the dishes served on the night were inspired by Gwyneth Paltrow in some way, and Chef Wong's prawns with strawberry sauce brought Chinese and US ingredients (prawns from the South China Sea and imported strawberries from the States) together in a way that celebrated her visit to Hong Kong.

In all, it was an unforgettable evening of filled with fabulous food. Stay tuned as I have a recipe passed on from Gwyneth herself to share in the near future...

All images courtesy of LANDMARK. Valerie was a guest of LANDMARK.