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Tastemakers Why Tai O's Shrimp Paste Is The Best Hong Kong Ingredient, According To Gigi Paulina Ng

Why Tai O's Shrimp Paste Is The Best Hong Kong Ingredient, According To Gigi Paulina Ng

Why Tai O's Shrimp Paste Is The Best Hong Kong Ingredient, According To Gigi Paulina Ng
Funky Tai O shrimp paste adds depth and flavour to any dish, says Gigi Paulina Ng (Illustration: Stephen Collins)
By Rachel Read
May 03, 2021
The fourth-generation owner of Ser Wong Fun, one of Hong Kong's culinary stalwarts, shares her favourite flavours of the city

As part of our series celebrating the vibrancy and community within Hong Kong’s dining scene, we spoke to several of the industry’s leading lights about why they love the city’s unique food culture. Here, Gigi Paulina Ng—fourth-generation owner of Ser Wong Fun, one of Hong Kong’s longest-standing restaurants famed for their snake soup—tells us about the delicious dishes she makes with Tai O shrimp paste and Kowloon Soy sesame oil, and why her last meal in Hong Kong would be Beijing-style cuisine.

See also: Snakes, Stir-Fry, And (Vegan) Spam: The Dinner Series That Offers A Taste Of Meat-Free Cantonese Cuisine

Tell us about one of your favourite Hong Kong food memories.

I remember going to The Steak House at the (now closed) InterContinental Hong Kong for their seafood platter, whenever there were special occasions in life to celebrate and share with friends and loved ones. Their amazing fresh seafood choices, plus their beautiful night views over the sea and Hong Kong, always made me happy.

What are some of your favourite local ingredients to use?

I love the shrimp paste from Tai O—any from the shops on the street near the pier will do. Cooking it simply with large dried shrimp and fat ribbons of fettucine, or even just adding it to something simple like morning glory, never fails to make my day.

Another local favourite is Kowloon Soy Company’s sesame oil; I’ll braise that with chicken, sesame paste, spring onions, auricular and snow fungus, cabbage and udon noodles at home for an extra boost to my energy and immune system—it’s like a miraculous food medicine to me.

See also: Neighbourhood Guide: What To Eat, Drink And Do In Tai O

Spring Deer's deep-fried mutton is one of Gigi's favourite dishes (Illustration: Stephen Collins)
Spring Deer's deep-fried mutton is one of Gigi's favourite dishes (Illustration: Stephen Collins)

If you could only visit one restaurant in Hong Kong again, what would it be – and how does it sum up what you love about the city’s food scene?

Spring Deer in Tsim Sha Tsui really represents what I like best about Hong Kong’s food scene and culture. My two must-order dishes there are their enormous, soft Shandong-style steamed bun stuffed with assorted meat and veggies, and their Beijing-style deep-fried mutton.

But those dishes aren’t my main reason for choosing Spring Deer; what I love is how every Beijing-style dish on their huge menu has its own character, and how each of the hundreds of my friends who have been there with me over the years has a different favourite dish – proof of the consistent food quality at this classic, authentic restaurant. Their deep-fried candied apples are another item not to be missed – one of my friends once requested a scoop of ice-cream with their dessert to be flambéed with wine, and I remember thinking how people often lose their usual discipline when they’re surrounded with good, comforting food!

Spring Deer might not be anything special in terms of décor, but their vivid ambience comes from their great food – and the vibrant energy from all their guests!

Gigi’s Picks:

  • Kowloon Soy Co. Ltd., 9 Graham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2544 3695
  • Spring Deer (currently closed for renovations), 1/F, 42 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2366 4012

Tags

Tastemakers Why We Love Hong Kong Gigi Paulina Ng Ser Wong Fun Hong Kong Tai O local ingredients Spring Deer

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