Food blogger Celia Hu enjoys a range of Hong Kong restaurants
Blogger Celia Hu finds restaurants around the city that suit her wide range of tastes, writes Joanne Lam
When Celia Hu moved to Hong Kong eight years ago, she didn't quite know what to expect. But the food blogger and TV personality has clearly found her footing in the bustling city.
As a self-proclaimed foodie, it should come as no surprise that, as we reflected upon her time in Hong Kong, we turned to her passion: food.
"I think my years of living in Hong Kong have really honed in a bit more sophistication into my palate," she says, citing exposure to an abundance of new cuisines as a source.
"Hong Kong is definitely is one of the biggest food paradises, if you were to look at any region in the world," she says. "There is a vast variety of really authentic cuisine from everywhere around the world."
And the girlmeetscooking.com writer certainly seems to have made it her mission to fully immerse herself in our city's food scene. Her broad love of all things delicious is evident in her list of favourite restaurants. Ranging from the cosy and comfortable Catalunya to the lavishly sophisticated Mott 32 and the eccentrically hipster Little Bao, it's clear that her love knows no bounds when it comes to food and restaurants.
It's fitting that Catalunya has made it onto Hu's list of top picks. After all, she fell in love with Spanish cuisine after moving to Hong Kong. "Growing up in Canada, it wasn't a big genre when I was living there," she says. "I love that a huge part of [the cuisine] involves sharing plates of tapas."
In particular, she recommends the suckling pig at Catalunya. The tenderness of the meat, with its contrasting crispy skin, is what makes it a star dish for Hu. "They cut the pork with the side of a plate [because it's so tender] - and I love that."
"Another dish I really like is the red prawn with rice," she says. "Red prawn, traditionally in Spain, is one of the most valued seafood. It has great texture and flavours - especially in the fat of the prawn's head - and I think it goes really well with carbs."
Hu says Mott 32 offers a "wow factor", and the "sophisticated but very cool" ambience makes the restaurant a perfect place to take friends out. Foodwise, she particularly enjoys the Peking duck and char siu.
On the other end of the spectrum, Little Bao is a hip yet informal joint, serving equally delicious dishes. A self-proclaimed "meativore", Hu especially loves the pork belly bao. She also raves about the fusion mac-and-cheese, made from traditional Cantonese rice rolls instead of macaroni. But it's perhaps the concept that speaks most to this foodie: "It's easy, it's fun, it's social.
"A huge part of what I love about food is the whole social experience of it," Hu says. This is true in the kitchen, when friends and family can cook and eat together, but equally true when dining out. "It's a great way to communicate, and to get to know someone you share something with them."
According to Hu, the city's food blogging circle is great in that regard. "I'm quite good friends with the food blogger community in Hong Kong, and we'll plan dinners together and try new restaurants.
"We try to support each other," she says. "Everyone has the same passion - it's almost like we're talking shop when we're dining together."
Still, one wonders: how does anyone stand out amid the sea of food bloggers in town? Upping the ante, Hu is looking to start publishing video blogs and how-to recipes on girlmeetscooking.com. With her experience on TV's The Amazing Food Challenge and upcoming stint on The Flying Winemaker, it should be an easy transition for the up-and-coming TV personality.
Until then, she'll continue to eat her way around Hong Kong - one tasty restaurant at a time, and often several times at the same establishment to ensure an "accurate review" for her blog.
In a city like this, there's no fear of running out of restaurants to test and review. Hong Kong is full of food surprises, Hu notes. While we have our seemingly endless list of celebrity chefs and ever-growing Michelin-starred restaurants, sometimes the most unassuming dai pai dong or local hole-in-the-wall restaurants will serve the most spectacularly tasty meal. These hidden gems are just waiting to be discovered.
"If I did find a hidden gem, I don't know if I should say [anything about] it," Hu says. But, "I always tell people: you just have to look up. If you look up, you can discover levels and levels of restaurants [and] shops in Hong Kong".