As part of our series celebrating the vibrancy and community within Hong Kong’s dining scene, we spoke to several of the industry’s leading lights about why they love the city’s unique food culture. Here, Gloria Chung—writer, food stylist, and founder of food styling agency The Props Dept—talks about the small Japanese restaurant that would be her last meal in Hong Kong and the local noodles she always brings for breakfast when travelling.
Tell us about some of your favourite Hong Kong food memories…
Growing up in Yuen Long, I remember my mum bringing me to the busy wet market there. We’d grab hot pineapple buns from Tai Tung Bakery, one of the oldest Canto bakeries in Hong Kong, then have wonton noodles in Ho To Tai Noodle Shop. As a kid, my favourite dish was their sweet spicy marinated pork noodles, but as time went by, I began to appreciate their homemade dumplings with fish skin… I guess that’s what is called growing up! When I was a kid, my mum would let me stay in the noodle shop while she went shopping in the market—my mum was very friendly and talkative, and it was a time when people trusted and took care of each other very much.
What are some of your favourite local ingredients to use?
I love dried shrimp roe noodles! Whenever I need to go on a long cold journey—usually an assignment in Europe—I usually bring one or two packets of these as an option for breakfast instead of cup noodles, as they’re easy to cook and already seasoned. The best I’ve found so far are from HappyFamilies.hk, which are made in Hong Kong; the texture of their noodles is very silky and al dente, and the shrimp roe flavour is very rich too.
I also love the locally-grown figs from Zen Organic Farm. They have this greenish yellow type of fig that tastes so tangy and refreshing—the texture is incredible!
Another memory would be at Ser Wong Fun, one of Hong Kong’s longest-standing restaurants, where I had my first date with my partner; we’ve returned there to celebrate our first date for five years now. I always wear the same dress that I wore on our first date—but he can’t fit in his first date outfit anymore! I remember we ordered the scrambled egg with prawn, lemon chicken, and stir-fried gai lan. I don’t think Gigi Paulina Ng, their owner, realised it was a first date—who would have thought that a Chinese restaurant could be so romantic? [Editor's note: Gloria eventually held her wedding reception at Ser Wong Fun.]
I always have a real sense of nostalgia about the restaurants in The Peninsula too—when I started my journalism career, it was the very first hotel and restaurant I visited for work. As a young writer, I was amazed by the quality of food and service, but it’s really the people there who make such a difference, from the bellboy to the PR to the restaurant staff that treat all their guests like ladies and gentlemen. My favourite meals there would be the lobster sausage for breakfast at The Lobby, dim sum at Spring Moon, and anything at Chesa.