My previous posts about my experiences eating in Hong Kong have pretty much been focused on what I can’t eat. So let me be a bit more positive and tell you a bit about what I did eat. For starters, the staff at my hotel (the Luxe Manor) were wonderful. They serve a delicious buffet breakfast, which, between the eggs, nuts, fish and lactose, there isn’t a whole lot for this Allergian to eat (but, of course, at no fault of theirs). But I love pancakes. So when I spotted those delicious little pikelets eyeing me, I just had to get me some of that. Problem was that they were sitting there next to the selection of pastries, some of which contained nuts. I spoke to one of the waitresses there (who again didn’t understand my Chinese nut translation sign as she didn’t speak Chinese), who arranged for my own personal plate of pancakes and croissants to be collated, heated and brought out to me. They did this each day for the rest of my trip and it was so wonderful of them! And delicious 🙂
I mentioned in my post here that I ate a lot of different cuisines while in Hong Kong. Let me speak a bit more specifically. So on the first night we went exploring the food options around our hotel, my dad and I stumbled upon Knutsford Terrace (which funnily enough was directly behind our hotel, yet we discovered it the very (very, very) long way). There is a strip of restaurants of all different cuisines and staff reading you all their delicious options every time you stop to read their menu board. On one night, a few nights into our trip, my brother was finally willing to forego on the Chinese food and enjoy something a bit more Western. We decided on Italian, since it was one of the few options that my family can actually all agree on. Normally. We walked up and down Knutsford Terrace looking at the different Italian restaurants, of which there are a few. Generally, they didn’t seem to have Italian food typical of Italy or Australia, but it seemed to be an Orientalized version of Italian food. This meant there was quite a bit more seafood and pork present, but that was fine – we could work around it. We all decided on Wild Fire, whose menu was a bit more standard. We sat down and chose what we were going to order. I had decided on the rigatoni al ragu, a safe yet usually delicious option. I gave my nut allergy translation sign to the waitress, who went to check with someone, who checked with someone else, who checked with someone else until eventually I think the whole restaurant knew. But to my dismay, someone returned telling me that I couldn’t eat any of the pasta dishes. They used peanut oil for all of them! Wow – something I had not experienced anywhere else, given that Italian is always the safest cuisine for me. The only thing they recommended I have was pizza which, due to the lactose intolerance, I couldn’t have. So, despite our best efforts to all eat together, my family all ate and I watched.
The good news was – if it weren’t for being rejected by Wild Fire, I would have never found Caliente. Caliente is a Mexican restaurant on Knutsford Terrace, which I frequented twice when in Hong Kong – the first time, after our Wild Fire episode, and the second time, the next night when I told my family they just had to try it (my parents both Mexican food enthusiasts). Caliente has delicious Mexican food – that chicken fajita didn’t even know it was made in China. I was served by a lovely lady, Roni, who (despite not being able to understand my nut allergy translation sign given she was from Nepal) informed me that there were no nuts anywhere in their kitchen. Win! The fajitas were absolutely delicious – 10/10.
We returned the next night for my brother’s birthday, where my whole family ate too and we all loved our food (and the frozen margaritas 🙂 ). The staff were all very lovely and helpful, and the restaurant had a buzzing atmosphere, including a nice rooftop area. Definitely recommend this place!
Luckily, I had some better luck than at Wild Fire when it came to Italian food in Hong Kong. My dad and I had been wandering along the Avenue of the Stars one afternoon when, on our way home, we stumbled upon some Italian restaurants whose menus were a bit more standard. I liked the look of a place called Al Dente. I went in and asked the waitresses (who also happened to be from Nepal) whether they use peanut oil and was glad to hear that they didn’t. So my mum and I went back later that night for dinner (my dad stayed back at the hotel with my sick brother). I decided to order something a bit different, pasta al dente, which was linguine with chicken strips, bell peppers, spinach, tomato, jalapeno peppers and a garlic white wine sauce. It was basically a Mexican pasta, which meant it was combining two of my favourite cuisines – could it be better? It was really really delicious! My whole fam went back there the next night and, in typical me style, I ordered the same thing. And it was delicious again. No way! I even re-created this dish last week at home (see pic below!). It wasn’t quite as good, but it was still really yum!
Finally, we went to a Japanese restaurant called Nagoya Japanese, inside Miramir Shopping Centre where my mum, brother and I all ate (and my dad watched due to a serious fish/seafood allergy). I wasn’t sure what to order (given I am still a bit of an amateur when it comes to understanding a Japanese menu), I went with some crispy chicken wings, which had a sweet and spicy batter. The waitress called over the chef to discuss my allergy, who spoke pretty good English. He assured me that the dish was entirely nut free and that he would be extra careful. He also described to me what was in the batter, just to reassure me. I felt very relaxed when the chef came back to check whether I could eat sesame seeds. I think it is a fantastic sign when someone asks me if I can eat sesame seeds. For some reason, people think sesame seeds are nuts. I’m perfectly fine with this confusion, given that their checking so means the person has understood my allergy completely and is being overly cautious. That’s what I like to hear. So I ate my chicken wings. And they were absolutely delicious. Don’t they look it? There you have it folks – I visited three continents in the space of 6 nights. Not a bad effort for a fussy Allergian, hey? Know of any other good non-Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong? Share your recommendations below! Until next time… どうぞお召し上がりください The Allergian Abroad