Chinese Banquet at Victoria City Seafood (Central, Hong Kong).

The Alabang Group, most all of us were friends and gang-mates since freshman year in college, all friends for many years, so close that we are the godparents of each others’ children. We’ve been making annual eating trips to Hong Kong for many years, billeting ourselves at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Central, HK until it closed. We miss that hotel. This year, we were 5 couples in all; just 4 days and 3 nights in HK this time since none of us can eat as much as we used to.

Plans were simple, we’d eat at our old favorite restaurants and the girls would shop in between meals. Lunch was reserved for hitting the dimsum, while dinner was lauriat time. Listing and recounting each meal being too much of a chore, I’m limiting my posts to only a handful of meals.

Day 1, 6th July 2009, Dinner: Victoria City Seafood Restaurant (5th Floor, Citic Tower, # 1 Tim Mei Avenue, Central, HK) has been a favorite of the group ever since we tried it around 5 or 6 years ago. Though they are known to specialize in seafood, their xiao long bao is also very famous and their Peking Duck and Roast Suckling Pig are pretty darn good too. We ordered all our old favorites except, this time, no sharks’ fin (one or two of the group object to eating sharks’ fin, the bleeding hearts), no Suckling Pig (cholesterol and digestion issues) and the abalone was sliced with ham instead of one whole piece each (barely half of us actually like abalone). We were only 9 persons at this dinner since Willy was flying in late as he had afternoon meetings to attend in Manila.

An unlikely delight, free appetizers of this crunchy “dilis”-like fish with nuts. We finished two plates of this in a trice and asked for two more. No wine this trip, Tsing Taos and tea washed this and the rest of the meal down.

Naturally, we started off with their famous Xiao Long Bao. As good as it ever was, Johnson immediately noted that they were mixing more crab in the filling than usual.

The second course was Lobster Sashimi served on a bed of crushed ice (bottom left). Actually, the dish was Live Lobster 2 Ways, the second way being fried with garlic and chilis. The lobster sashimi was impeccably fresh, clean and the texture of the flesh just firm enough to bite down on, its essence bursting with its lobster-ness mixed with whispers of the sea.

Roast Pork with Mustard & Sugar was the third course - a discovery of Johnson in this restaurant around 3-4 years ago, it became an immediate favorite of the group. Dipping the crunchy-skinned pork belly in a bit of mustard then sugar may sound a little strange to some, but, believe me, it is wonderful.

First Way Peking Duck (skin and Chinese pancake) was our fourth course: delectably rich, but not too oily.

The following were served in quick succession, so I’ve forgotten the exact order thereof.

Peking Duck 2nd Way (minced served in lettuce leaves).

Lobster 2nd Way (Deep Fried with Chili & Garlic).

Steamed Broccoli with Garlic (a concession to assuage eating guilt).

Steamed Red Garupa in Light Soy Sauce, always a treat, and I got to eat the head.

Sliced Abalone with Ham and Vegetables.

A house specialty of Lettuce in Fish Sauce Hot Pot.

The meal was terrific as usual; we were all too stuffed for any dessert.

being chinese… i love doing meals like this. Especially with wine! Best part of living in LA, great cantonese seafood restaurants are always ready and willing to have us bring bottles upon bottles of wine and order tons of dishes !

Hi, Charlie.

Please share with me the names of the best Cantonese restaurants in LA. I have eaten in very many Cantonese restaurants in California (including a few touted ones in San Francisco), New York (several in their Chinatown as well), Louisiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. Honestly, not a single one can come close to the quality in Hong Kong or even Manila. They are worlds away in terms of quality in Cantonese cuisine.

In my country, the richest businessmen are Filipino-Chinese and they demand the best. Hence, many chefs from HK and Taiwan find their way here to cook. We are thus very used to a certain level of Chinese cuisine (Cantonese, Hunan, Chiuchow, Shanghainese, Szechwan, etc.) which I have never found in the US. Let’s not even begin talking about Europe. Bleh.

Elite in Monterey Park is good. Tends to be a bit pricey but their food is always top notch. There used to be an Empress Seafood in Alhambra that closed recently that was really well executed, more of a ‘high end cantonese’ cuisine but unfortunately they were shut down due to being too pricey. Have you journeyed into the Monterey Park/San Gabriel Valley area for chinese? I think we’ve seen a real boon in the last 3-4 years as more money is being poured in to create better restaurants, not just your standard family style fare. Downtown LA is now officially horrible =(, which is kinda funny… since it’s china town.

I’d like to think the large amount of chinese in LA would result in pretty good Chinese food… but who knows :wink:

Seems like a lot of good Cantonese has been springing up in Canada (Vancouver in particular) due to the '97 handover. Sun Sui Wah, our group’s favorite roast squab restaurant in HK (North Point, I recall - their seafood was also excellent) shut down during the peak of the bird flu and never reopened. Next thing I know, it reopened in Vancouver.

There are many Chinese in LA, I know. However, I also note that most all “Cantonese” restaurants there and elsewhere in the US, even though owned and run by Chinese famililies, serve markedly westernized fare and almost always overcook the seafood and over-batter the fried stuff, the pancakes for Peking duck are too thick and clumsy, etc. - to cater to western palates and/or lower costs, I’d think. I understand completely, of course - it is a business afterall.

Still, they have always been disappointing.

The very worst were these supposedly best Chinese restaurants in Kentucky, Louisiana and Ohio we were taken to by my brother-in-law (he is pure Chinese but born and raised in the Philippines in a traditional Chinese clan - he and my sis are both doctors living in the US). I guess he is just so desperate for Chinese cuisine, he’ll take what he can. Sad, really, he was very used to good Chinese cuisine.

The food was, in a word, horrid.

Anyway, thanks for the recommendations, I will try these restaurants next I’m in the area.



no westernized fare in Monterey Park area, in fact most of the people working at the restaurant can’t speak english [rofl.gif]. Most restaurants (if not all) do not cater to the Americans.

To be honest I don’t expect Peking Duck in cantonese restaurants to be good, if it’s prepared in the traditional way that’s a plus but to me that’s not what I go to the seafood restaurants for. I just want fresh seafood prepared properly.
That being said, there are very very very few dedicated peking duck restaurants in LA that prepare it in the traditional manner. Probably only 2-3 at the most. Most are just “roast” duck with fattier skin, Even then the dedicated ones don’t reach the same levels as in central/northern China. I still drool over the 15 Course dinner I had in Beijing centralized around Duck 4 ways. I have yet to find anything even remotely similar in quality in LA. That’s really my biggest knock on Los Angeles Chinese cuisine, no really well done peking duck. I think that has to do with the fact that most of the restaurants tend to be cantonese. We frequent Duck House in Monterey Park that’s owned by Taiwanese and they probably do the best version in LA.

Damn, Noel… that’s some eating. Really impressive.

Best Peking duck I’ve had was in Shanghai - I don’t know that that city is necessarily a bastion of Cantonese cuisine, but it demonstrated to me how utterly delectable that dish can be. No doubt a lot of the big HK money migrated to Vancouver in the 90’s, so it doesn’t surprise me that it’s home to some pretty outstanding Cantonese cooking.

Me, I’m in search of someplace that does Taiwanese dumplings right… talk about irresistable food…

Peking Duck is Beijing food, northern China food so far closer to Shanghai than Beijing. That’s why i didn’t think it was that important that a Cantonese seafood restaurant didn’t have good peking duck. Hong Kong goes out of it’s way (and does a VERY VERY GOOD JOB of it) to make peking duck in their seafood restaurants but it’s not a regional cuisine. Places in America usually if it’s a Cantonese seafood restaurant offering “peking duck” is probably just roasting the duck without really going through the whole preparation and process. I hate seeing Peking Duck on every Cantonese seafood restaurant’s menu when I know all it is is roast duck with crispier skin. =(

True enough, Charlie.

That said, roast duck is still a pretty tasty dish too! Not as fine as Peking duck, but I certainly wouldn’t kick a good roast duck off my plate.



oh definitely! That being said, your peking duck from this meal looks EXCELLENT. The shine on that skin makes it look so rich drool

Supposedly the best Peking duck in HK is at Spring Deer on Mody Road in TST. I used to go there all the time, but it’s such a hassle getting in and the place is a bit decrepit looking (last I went anyway).

I’ve stopped going there since around 2006, and I don’t miss it. There’s a specialty very high-end Shanghainese restaurant in HK (TST, in the Omni Hong Kong Hotel - the other branch in Pacific Place isn’t as good) called Ye Shanghai. Their Peking duck there is so refined - rich, but very clean-tasting. I notice that Shanghainese cuisine is generally less oily than Cantonese and the flavors are more discreet yet delicately complex.

Gosh, but that place isn’t cheap though!



We’re off to HKG in November. Our very first trip. After looking at these pictures, I can’t wait.
How much did this set you back?


Approximately HK$3500, which it around US$450.

I know I shouldn’t even ask the question, but I just have to.

Was this per person or for your party?

Oh, sorry, I wrote in my post that we were 9 persons, so I thought it would be understood to be for the entire party. That comes out to only roughly US$50/person - very reasonable. One person paid the entire bill though - it was a belated birthday treat for the group.

A Chinese banquet (we call it a “lauriat” in Manila for some reason) gets cheaper per person the more people there are. A table of 10 is the norm for a lauriat (or is it 10-12 pax, Charlie?). A normal lauriat features at least 10-12 dishes. US$50/person (HK$387) is a fair price for a restaurant of this caliber in HK and for the dishes ordered. The seafood dishes are the most expensive - lobster, garupa and abalone - which, if omitted (or replaced with cheaper fare like prawns or clams), would bring down the cost materially.

If it will only be yourself and your wife for the meal, or maybe with one more couple, it would be a little difficult to get in 10-12 dishes for a lauriat unless you are very vigorous eaters.

If you like, please e-mail or PM me the particular dishes you want to try as well as your budgets per meal and I will be more than happy to recommend specific restaurants in HK for you that execute such dishes well.



I’ll contact you as the trip approaches.

I’ve found that off-lines can run from $50 to $300 per person. In these parts, I just had to ask. I think the mrs (who’s a fan of Chinese food) will authorize this expense, especially after I show her the pictures. [grin.gif]

10-12 sounds about right! If you have smaller eaters you can always expand more :wink: