Hong Kong restaurant group owner Randy See’s favourite places to eat out
The city’s best congee shop, the best sandwich, the best Chinese dessert place ‘hands down’, and where a Singaporean goes for a taste of home – the Piccolo Concepts boss tells all
My Sunday morning ritual includes a visit to Mui Kee Congee (shop 11-12, 4/F Fa Yuen Street Market, Mong Kok, tel: 2789 0198). It serves the best congee – no short cuts here. They start preparing the base congee at 10pm the previous night, and start serving at 7am the next day. Pierre Choi upholds the family tradition, started by his late grandmother in 1979, with impeccable consistency. The menu is in three languages: Chinese, English and Japanese, in that order. My favourite combo is grass carp cheeks and meatball congee, with deep-fried fritters on the side.
For the best sandwich in Hong Kong, head to Sunday’s Grocery (Kam Fu Mansion, 66-68 Catchick Street, Kennedy Town, tel: 2628 6001). I eat here quite a bit because two of my restaurants, Bistro du Vin and Piccolo Pizzeria, are within walking distance. Everything here is made to order, so there’s no such thing as grab-and-go. While waiting for my chicken schnitzel, I tend to get carried away tasting some of their artisanal spirits, offered by the friendly staff. Sunday’s carries an interesting spirit selection made by boutique and artisanal distillers, skilfully chosen by beverage manager Elliot Faber.
I’m Singaporean, so when I need my fix of char kway teow – Penang-style wok-fried noodles – I head to Cafe Malacca (2/F Hotel Jen, 508 Queen’s Road West, Western district, tel: 2213 6613). The noodles here are fried to perfection, the bean sprouts are from Ipoh and are much tastier; if your cholesterol level permits, ask for two duck eggs. Almost everything else here is nice and authentic. Towards the end of my meal, I always look forward to catching up with an Indian Malaysian chef called Raja, who is in charge of flipping the roti canai – he speaks perfect Cantonese. Thanks for not using frozen ones.
Yuen Kee Chinese Desserts (32 Centre Street, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 2548 8687) is, hands down, the best place for Chinese desserts. Less is more here: no jellies or colourful toppings, just half a dozen traditional Cantonese favourites and a few snacks such as smoked tea eggs and fluffy egg cakes. A tea dessert made from the bark of a tree called Taxillus chinensis is popular here, and is usually served with powdery textured lotus seeds. It’s my wife’s favourite.
Sitting high up in the hills of Spain’s Basque region is Asador Etxebarri (Plaza de San Juan, 1, 48291 Atxondo, Bizkaia, Spain, tel: +34 946 58 30 42). Victor Arguinzoniz’s innovative grill restaurant is definitely one of my favourites. He is a grill master in its true sense, as he hand-picks different types of wood for his seafood and meats, churns his own butter and makes his own cheese from a local source. Every dish is exciting, but the most memorable is grilled baby octopus served with caramelised onions. It was so simple yet satisfying. Driving there can be tricky, but it’s certainly worth a detour.