HONG KONG: BOURDAIN WOZ HERE
It’s official, Anthony Bourdain is the new Ernest Hemmingway.
Now, before you all start leaping up and down, I am not putting the two on the same levels as writers, although I have no shame in admitting I am a fan of Mr B’s ebullient style. But, more the fact that, where as for years it was hard to find a place on the globe where EH had not slept, ate or fallen over blind drunk, the same is now true of Tony Bourdain.
Yesterday, on my last day in Hong Kong (more about this to appear soon on EAT MY GLOBE) I decided to head down to Lan Kwai Fon, the area of buzzy hills adjacent to the truly crazy area of Central, and find some interesting places to eat.
With full “where no man has gone before” hat on, I wandered into a shabby looking roast meat shop and sat down at a communal table and started sipping on the watery tea in the grimy cup they gave me with self satisfied thoughts of what a brave pioneering traveller I was. Even more smug did I become when I made myself understood and ordered an excellent plate of roast pork and goose on top of some piping hot rice.
HK$27(about £1.90 at current rates) later, I wandered out feeling pleasingly full and equally pleased with myself as I stood across the road to take a picture of the shop front to show you good folks, only to see the familiar lengthy fizog of Mr A Bourdain gurning at me from a newspaper article in the front of the restaurant. Apparently, Dragon Roast Meats (for that was its name) was a particular favourite of this cook on his tour.
So, pioneering gourmand credibility shot down and smashed to a million shards, I went off in search of some other backstreet joint and was drawn by the sight of angry looking men making noodles and fish balls in another tiny restaurant. After a long queue, I was seated at a table with four other hungry lunchers and ordered some “chutney pork with chewy noodles” Again, smug mode was engaged until one of the other diners moved his newspaper to reveal, under the glass of the table top, a copy of the same article declaring that this noodle place was another of AB’s favourites.
Well, he has excellent taste as both Dragon Roast Meats and Mac’s Noodle Shop were highlights of my trip, but I can’t hide a slight disappointment that my attempts to portray myself as a culinary Dr Livingstone lay shattered alongside my dreams to win the world heavyweight championship (it could happen) and to play Nankee- Poo in a West End version of The Mikado.
To make me feel better, my amazingly generous hosts, Francine and David, invited me to have dinner with them somewhere rather swish at the restaurant of one of HK’s most prestigious member’s clubs.
So, after a couple of cocktails at The Mandarin Oriental, we headed to The Derby Restaurant where we enjoyed a rather splendid tasting menu with accompanying wines. Highlights included a ravioli injected with egg yolk which poached in a pork knuckle broth, a lobster tail cooked sous vide and a “linguini” of squid.
At the end of the meal, I was feeling much better and went to have a chat with the chef, Donavan Cooke. He hails from Hull and it tells in his liberal hilarious use of rather fruity language. He worked at The Savoy, Harvey’s (where he took over from one Mr Ramsay as sous chef) and MPW at The Oriental as well as running numerous restaurants in Melbourne.
So, at last I had chance to tell folks about something new and someone of whom they may not otherwise have heard.
That is until I explained to him about EAT MY GLOBE and why I was in HK to which he replied “ oh, like my mate Anthony Bourdain”
My heart sank like a two year old’s first attempt at a soufflé as my dreams of a career as a food loving Magellan dwindled. He further stuck his 10 inch Global knife in by saying “ oh yeah, he was here not so long ago and I think I am mentioned in his new book”
So, as I said, its official, the epithet “ Bourdain Ate Here” is now to be produced on stickers and left anywhere the man licks a plate clean.
I am off to China now. I intend to walk into the smallest, dingiest most appalling looking home for rats and order the intestine of small local dogs and cats just for the hell of it. Although, I fully expect that, as I enter, I shall see a well known face looking into a camera aimed at his good side, chewing on a gizzard and going “ Man, that’s as good as it gets”