The joy of the food court. No, really!

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I get to do a reasonable amount of travelling for my job, which means quite a lot of nights away. And two words strike dread into my heart.

Room service.

Generally, if you’re on your own, there is no more depressing evening meal than room service. Few dishes benefit from the long haul journey from kitchen to room, so it’s never going to be the best meal you ever eat. I have no problem in eating out alone, but sometimes you don’t want the fuss.

Which is why in Hong Kong recently I ended up in two different food courts, both of which turned out great dinners, and fantastic people watching. And a very different experience to every food court I’ve crossed here. The one at the Trafford Centre comes to mind, which involved bypassing great food choices and taking out yet another mortgage, all for the privilege of a bad meal.

Not so either of these two, even if one is a rather petite version of a food court:

 

Less food court, more corridor

 

As you can see, this is a long, thin food court, which is in the basement of SOGO. Along here I could have chosen everything from sushi through noodle dishes, but I was in the mood for dim sum. Pretty pleased at being able to order without pointing, this was my order:

 

One reasonable dinner bill for one - £3.50

 

In case you can’t spot from this, I was getting a portion of xiao long bao (Shanghai soup dumplings) and char sui pork buns, with a glass of iced lemon tea.

 

What you get for HK$35

 

Freshly steamed, great tasting, and about £3.50. I think even the golden arches would have been a similar price, and nowhere near as good.

Of course, my other favourite feature of the food courts in Asia is the plastic food displays. Which does give you a great fall back if you don’t speak the language (although please learn at least please and thank you, goes a long way). And interesting to see how the plastic version compares to the real thing. Here’s the spot the difference for my second dinner:

The plastic version

 

The real thing

Looked recognisable to me, and was very tasty. It was an expensive night though, as this was the best part of £6. So, if you’re in Hong Kong anytime soon, then these two food courts, at SOGO and City Super are definitely worth a stop by, whether you’re on your own or not. City Super has the better scenery, as it looks out over the harbour, but also gets super busy.

Is there anywhere in the UK like this? Perhaps I should write a guide, or travel hopefully to find one! Great to know if you’ve come across one though.

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The Saturday Session – Dim Sum no dim supper

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Have a go to recreate your own dim sum banquet!

 

I love dim sum, and trips to London always tend to include finding somewhere to indulge in great dim sum. This week was New World on Gerrard Place, which is fantastic for that full-on traditional dim sum experience with trollies madly dashing around the room.

Then there are great modern versions of dim sum, with Yauatcha being my favourite, for both the dim sum and the macaroons. And for quick dim sum whilst shopping there is always Ping Pong, which is great for good food in a hurry, and great cocktails too. But to attempt it at home? Where do you begin?

Channel 4 have got a small selection, which all look tasty and good, and I also like Asian Online Recipes has a more comprehensive selection. You’re going to need to stock up on things like soy sauce and Chinese flavourings and spices, as well as more unusual ingredients like won ton wrappers. The Asian Cookshop is a great online source for not just Chinese ingredients but also Thai, Japanese and Indian.

If you’re the visual type, then there are plenty of videos over on You Tube. There’s a great one for steamed buns, which is one of my favourite dim sum recipes. You could create a whole banquet working through all of these videos, and it may make some of the tricky moments easier to follow. I looked at Amazon, and there aren’t huge numbers of books devoted just to the subject of dim sum. I like the look of Dim Sum Made Easy by Lucille Liang, and also the authentic looking Chinese Snacks by Huang Su-Huei.

To be honest, if I had won ton wrappers in this weekend, I would spend all weekend trying out these recipes and techniques. If I’m going to be snowed in, I may as well use the time to good use! And there’s something about filling the kitchen with more exotic scents that fills the day with warmth. Go ahead, change the air around you!

Fabulous picture of a great dim sum spread by Looks Like Amy on Flickr.

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