Ningbo (or Ningpo) is one of China's oldest cities (harking back to 4800 BC!) located in northeast Zhejiang province, not too far from Shanghai. One of the best and most well known Ningbo and Shanghainese restaurant in Hong Kong is actually a private club located right in Central.
It's technically a restaurant that's part of the Ning Po Resident's Association. Only club members can make reservations here. We have been able to come multiple times because Bryan's uncle (a local Hong Konger!) belongs to the club and likes to hold family get-togethers there.
The food is indeed excellent and is definitely one of the best Ningbo / Shanghainese restaurants I've visited in Hong Kong. They have several dishes that they do really well.
Because I was there with Bryan's uncle, I did not really get to see the menu (you know how these family dinners go, the host (uncle in this case) orders everything and then food magically starts appearing. I've tried my best to describe the dishes, but I can't guarantee this is what it's called on the menu.
Chopped "Malantou"馬蘭頭 and 5-spice Bean Curd Salad tossed in sesame oil. This is a very classic Shanghainese dish that's harder to find outside of China because it's harder to source the special herb-like vegetable malantou.
This dish of Marinated Wheat Gluten is very flavorful and leans on the sweeter side.
It's very hard to find freshly Deep Fried Anchovies, one of the restaurant's signature dishes. I distinctly remember one of the diners at my table commenting how unusual and special it was to be able to eat this dish fresh (versus maybe canned?).
Smoked Eggs are yet another famous and signature dish.
扣三絲 (kòu sān sī) is another classic Shanghainese soup that's absolutely fantastic. Its base is a rich creamy stock (likely from cooking pork bones and Jinhua ham for hours) and it includes bamboo shoots, ham, pork, and some tofu skins tied into knots, and some vegetables. It's delicious and just warms the soul.
The Deep Fried Eel is definitely a crowd pleaser. The pieces are crunchy, extremely flavorful, and quite addictive, actually.
Their Home-style Fried Pancake with Scallion, another signature dish, is out of this world.
It's chock full of onions and has a unique sesame crusted skin that is crispy, thin, and not at all greasy. It is one of the lightest scallion pancakes I've ever had. It's really special and definitely worth ordering!
These look like typical pan fried dumplings but they are not! When I first bit into them, I was shocked to find they were filled with soup! Pan Fried Soup Dumplings
They were like a soup filled xiaolongbao but hiding in a pan fried dumpling skin. It was delicious.
The Red Cooked Pork was extremely flavorful and quite soft and tender. This was another crowd-pleaser.
The Drunken Chicken had quite a strong wine flavor. If you're sensitive to the taste of alcohol, don't get this!
Crispy Duck was well executed and came with an assortment of steamed buns.
Sweet & Sour Fish is another classic Shanghainese dish where fish is first deep fried and then braised in a flavorful tomato-based sweet sauce. In this case, the dish was much easier to eat because the chef had removed the bones and deep fried the pieces of fish.
Salted duck egg is a popular sauce for various types of food, and Ningpo Restaurant serves several dishes that come with this sauce.
A very classic dish is this trio of Soy Beans, Tofu Ribbons, and Salted Mustard Greens. I often like to get this as comfort food, since it's pretty healthy and has a nice, light combination of flavors.
This special version of stir fried spinach (with two kinds of eggs, century and salted duck egg) is called "Gold & Silver" referring to the two different types of eggs that are in the the dish. The eggs add a nice salty and flavorful depth to the simple spinach.
They also have several classic stir fried vegetables, such as pea shoots (pictured above).
More tofu ribbons! These are served with steamed bok choy in a milky broth (possibly fish stock).
For dessert we had an interesting Fermented Rice Soup with glutinous rice balls. It's an acquired taste for sure (it's a bit sour, a bit fermented), but I kind of like it. It's sweet, sour, and has a fermented rice flavor, a bit like the Japanese shio koji.
Ning Po Restaurant - General Thoughts
The food here is excellent and very authentic. It's a fantastic place to go eat with a big family, since you can order so many different types of dishes. I most recommend the scallion pancake, deep fried eel, kòu sān sī soup, the soupy pan fried dumplings, and the red cooked pork. Honestly, though, everything has been really great and you can't go wrong (at least with any of the dishes we ordered).
I'm not exactly sure how to access this restaurant if you don't have a friend or relative who is a club member. According to Hip Hong Kong, you may need to be referred into the club before you can join (and still pay the various types of membership dues, anywhere from HKD200 to HKD4000. I'll update this post if I find out more information!
Excellent food! Highly recommended!
Ning Po Restaurant
Yip Fung building
2 D'Aguliar Street, Central
This is the twenty-sixth post in the updated #50Postsin50Days – Take 2 Challenge. Other posts in this series will be added to the bottom of the original post.