August 21, 2018
Known for its dramatic mountain-meets-sea scape, pristine beaches and hiking trails, Hong Kong's northeastern district of Sai Kung is also a gourmet paradise. Disembark from the ferry at Sai Kung Public Pier and stroll along the waterfront promenade nicknamed Seafood Street, and if the name hasn’t given it away already, you will soon see what is on the menu.
Restaurant after restaurant features tanks brimming with fish, crabs, shrimps, shellfish and probably a few mystery creatures you have never seen before, while fishermen hawk their catches directly from their boats that float close by.
Fishermen have lived in Sai Kung since the 14th century, first on vessels bobbing in sheltered inlets, and then in villages on the shore. While the district has urbanised since then, the area’s affinity for quality seafood remains strong. Some of the restaurants boast Michelin stars, and Seafood Street is a popular source of fresh seafood for many dining establishments throughout the rest of Hong Kong.
Chef Choy Chi-man, of Cantonese and hot pot restaurant Congeodle in Kowloon City, regularly makes the journey to Sai Kung to source seafood. “My team and I purchase from the fishermen at Seafood Street directly,” he says. “I also like the floating seafood market along the street, where you can bargain and choose your own live seafood from the boats. You can find all kinds of seafood in Sai Kung, and we select the best depending on the season.” Mantis shrimp, clams, and garoupa are only a few of the ingredients on offer.
Of course, the best way to enjoy Sai Kung’s seafood is in one of its many restaurants — preferably alfresco and overlooking the shimmering sea. In addition to picking your meal from the restaurants’ tanks, you can also bring in your own catch of the day, or purchases from the market and the chefs will happily cook them for you, either as you wish, or suggesting a dish. It costs a little more, but the difference is usually small – Sing Kee Seafood Restaurant (see below) charges $120 to cook your fish for you. It’s also recommended to pre-order if there’s a dish on the menu you absolutely must have, as signature items can sell out quickly, and remember to take advantage of seasonal specials, too.
The bright crimson and gold facade of this three-storey, Michelin-starred establishment quickly catches the eye, but it’s the perfectly braised fish, sauteéd clams and wide assortment of abalone that you will stay for. If you’re after a quieter meal, book a seat at its hidden alfresco area. Private dining rooms are also available.
33-39 Sai Kung Tai Street / Sai Kung / +852 2791 9887
With its plain entrance, there is little to distinguish Loaf On from its competitors, but Sai Kung’s first Michelin-starred restaurant serves up impressive fare sourced straight from the fishing boats moored nearby. The staff is well-versed in more than 20 fish species. “Chefs at Loaf On will recommend dishes based on your preference,” says Choy Chi-man from Congeodle, who recommends the restaurant as a personal favourite. “The seafood is fresh, the cuisine is impeccable, and the service is fabulous.” Try the deep-fried abalone, squid and mantis shrimp, or flower crab.
49 See Cheung Street / Sai Kung / +852 2792 9966
Look for the giant fish sign hanging over the street and you will find Chuen Kee, a Michelin-recommended establishment that is a little calmer than its counterparts. A table on the balcony is perfect for watching the rest of the town go by while avoiding the crowds yourself. Order the salt and pepper mantis shrimp or steamed fish topped with sweet soy sauce, ginger and spring onion. Chuen Kee is also known for its sheer multitude of choice; you’ll be able to find much larger specimens here, from king crabs to massive razor clams.
87-89 Man Nin Street / Sai Kung / +852 2792 6938
Hung Kee Seafood Restaurant’s main drawcard is arguably its huge terrace on the pedestrianised waterfront promenade. Its massive tanks of seafood are an attraction too, and it rakes in customers hungry for its lobster and noodles with cheese sauce, black bean with scallops, and fried rice in crab shell. The restaurant’s dim sum offering is also popular.
G/F, Siu Yat Building / Sai Kung Hoi Pong Square / Sai Kung / +852 2792 1348
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