Hong Kong is home to an abundance of Michelin-starred restaurants, ranging from top-tier, to cheap eats. There is something for every single one of your cravings no matter what it is you’re in the mood for. So where do Michelin-starred chefs go when they’re off duty, and wanting a bite before heading home for the night?
For the myriad of chefs helming top Chinese restaurants around town, more often than not, you’ll find them congregating in a small unassuming eatery in the heart of Kowloon’s Prince Edward, where you won’t find many tourists, and there isn’t much English spoken.
On this particular night, a chef friend takes us to Ju Xing Home around 9pm. Once inside, you’ll see the photos of local celebrities who frequent this joint, from Michelin-starred Chinese chefs, to the who’s who of the Hong Kong entertainment industry.
Chef/Owner Mr Ng is a humble man who takes immense pride in preparing dishes for his customers. He is in the kitchen, personally cooking every single dish which hits the table. We leave the menu completely up to him, hence, it is an omakase of sorts, and I am excited for this journey we are about to embark on.
We begin with Manila Clam Soup, a piping hot tureen of the most tantalizing broth you’ll ever taste. The broth is a labor of love, using fish bones, and requires hours of simmering, resulting in a milky consistency that is umami filled, and unctuous on the palate. It is dotted with plump clams, loofah squash, and enoki mushrooms, and scorching, the way I love my soup.
Next, Sichuan La Ji Gai are chunks of chicken fried so perfectly that the bones are super crunchy that you’re able to eat them, yet moist on the inside. This dish pairs so perfectly well with the Blue Girl beer we are sipping on.
Roasted Pigeon is a local staple, and here, it is so well executed it gives Tai Ping Koon, a Hong Kong landmark restaurant known for its pigeon, a run for its money. The skin is crispy, while the flesh is tender and oh so flavorful. I love the accompanying salt which you may dip the pigeon in, but you may also try the Worcestershire-like sauce if you prefer something less salty. The chefs at the table egg my son on to eat the head and brain, and he does so without hesitation. So proud!
One of our favorite dishes of the night is Soy Sauce Sea Prawns. These beautiful crustaceans are served shell on, and heads intact. While you may want to peel the shrimp before eating, the best part is to chew on the shell first, to extract all the flavors before working towards the meat itself. Don’t waste the roe that’s embedded within the head. I take the liberty to suck it all out. Waste not, want not is my motto.
Garoupa is a popular fish in Hong Kong, and our next item features the prized Humpback Garoupa, which chef poaches in a broth swimming with pickled mustard greens, Sichuan peppercorns, mushrooms, Thai chile peppers, and Chinese celery. The fish slices are melt-in-the-mouth tender, and the various accoutrements, though powerful in their own way, never overpowers the delicate fish. Just those who aren’t into spicy foods should make sure they don’t accidentally pop some chiles or peppercorns in their mouths. This is possibly one of the best renditions of a Chiu Chow-style dish.
No Chinese meal is complete without some greens, and Gai Lan with Salted Fish, served in a claypot, is one of those dishes I’d be happy eating with only a bowl of steamed rice. It is comfort food at its best, so simple, yet mind-blowingly flavorful.
We finish the meal with Crispy Vermicelli topped with an abalone black bean sauce. It is decadent, and such an indulgence. The noodles are texturally sublime, while the abalone, exquisitely supple.
This was one of the highlights of my trip, featuring a fabulous menu, without the pomp and circumstance. I understand completely why chefs of Michelin-fame are flocking here to satiate their bellies before heading home for the night. Chef Ng’s passion and dedication radiate through each and every dish we are served, yet the man is as humble as they come. This is the true heart and essence of Hong Kong.
Ju Xing Home
G/F 418 Portland Street
Tel: +852 2392 9283