This is one of many posts that are part of the series Jen's Guide - Best Places to Eat in Hong Kong for Visitors
I immediately fell in love with both the concept and the food at Social Place, a modern dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong with locations in both Central and Tsim Sha Tsui. OK, I'll admit it - I was initially drawn to the cute dim sum items that they make, my favorite being the shiitake mushroom shaped bao that tastes like black truffle inside (so good!).
However, as I dined there a few more times, I began to appreciate the overall high quality of the food, good service, and creativity of the menu. It's a fun place to go with a larger group so you can explore the wide variety of excellent food they have.
Social Place says its goal is to allow "diners to enjoy a range of healthy delicious dishes with a unique modern twist." I think they've done it quite well, which is why I keep going back.
One of the most popular dishes is the Roasted White King Pigeon ($59 HKD each), a signature dish borrowed from their more traditional Cantonese sister restaurant Tang Palace in Wan Chai. The roast pigeon is fantastic, with tons of flavorful, crispy skin as well as a very intense meat flavor.
Eggs (Ain't) That Simple ($139 HKD) is another signature dishes. Those yolks are not what they appear! In fact, they are spherified mango balls served inside real egg shells (don't eat the shells!).
The eggs come alongside a generous portion of fried chili chicken with peanuts. The fried chicken is very flavorful and super addictive. I love the numbing "mala" spice from the generous amounts of Sichuan peppercorns.
Dim Sum / To Follow
One of my favorite items to order is the Truffle Shiitake Buns. The buns are super cute (they really do look like mushrooms!), but more importantly, the baos are delicious. They have a lovely truffly-mushroom flavor inside, and the steamed bun itself is excellent.
Another visually stunning and more dessert-like bun is the Charcoal Custard Buns. Bite into it, and a sweet golden yellow custard made from salty duck egg yolk will flow out.
In general, all of the dim sum items are great. We loved the Prawn Toast ($69 HKD) and thought that the soup dumplings were very good as well.
If you're dining alone, you can order the handy Dim Sum Platter ($69 HKD, not pictured) which allows you to sample five different dim sum items. It's a nice easy way to try a variety of dumplings without having to order the items separately (normal orders come in sets of threes).
Kids will love the many cute-themed buns they make, such as The Turtle baked charsiu bao (BBQ pork bun) or the Sweet Potato Piggy Bun.
The Sichuan Chili Chicken ($89 HKD) is a cold dish and packs quite a punch of heat from the chilis.
When we went, hairy crab was in season, so we were able to try several excellent seasonal dishes made from the crab, such as the fun snack-like appetizer Crispy Rice with Hairy Crab or the Tofu with Hairy Crab.
There is a whole vegetable section devoted to vegetables cooked in many different ways. One of our favorites (a seasonal item), was the Pea Shoots with Hairy Crab. The vegetables were perfectly cooked and the topping was divine.
I've enjoyed the Dragon's Beard Kale (not pictured), which is what we call Chinese Broccoli in the states. Note: to further confuse things, in Hong Kong they use the word "kale" to refer both to Chinese broccoli and also to the Western version of kale (the dark leafy green).
We have also tried the Green Beans with Chili Minced Pork ($49 HKD), which is very good, but definitely a bit more oily since the green beans are deep fried.
I never realized how much I enjoyed chicken cooked in coconut water until I tried chicken coconut water hot pot in Asia. Social Place does their own version, the Signature Chicken Soup in Young Coconut ($69 HKD).Unlike the coconut hot pot places, the broth here is more of a chicken/pork bone broth, not pure coconut water. The chicken is cooked inside a young coconut and you can scrape at the coconut meat to eat with the chicken. It's excellent.
There are many types of interesting deep fried items on the menu. They do a good job, but these items do tend to be quite oily, so you don't want to order too many if you want a balanced meal! My favorite deep fried dishes are the ones that involve the salted duck egg yolk coating, which I think adds such a fantastic element of flavor. For something more unusual, try the Deep Fried Bitter Cucumber with Egg Yolk ($79 HKD) - pictured top right. Pictured top left is the Deep Fried Squid ($69 HKD).
Deep Fried Spare Ribs with Shrimp Paste ($79 HKD) and Deep Fried Fish Skin with Egg yolk ($79 HKD). I had never had deep fried fish skin but it is fantastic! Here they coat it with salted duck egg yolk before frying it. The end result reminds of a crunchy, salty, deeply flavorful chip. It almost feels like you're snacking instead of eating dinner!
Noodles and Rice
The menu has a nice selection of noodles and rice dishes. You can get Social Place's spin on fried rice, rice cakes, congee, and noodles. The Fried Rice with Abalone in Black Truffle ($119 HKD) is divine and easily one of my favorite items on the menu.
The Squid Ink Risotto (which also includes egg and pork) is delicious, with a deep, rich seafood flavor.
Dan Dan Noodles ($49 HKD) are quite classic and executed well.
Social Place has fun by serving bowls with designs of various insects. The bowls are clean, but it's always funny to see people's initial impressions when they first see their own bowls.
General Thoughts - Social Place Hong Kong
All in all, it's no surprise why Social Place is really popular with all sorts of people. The menu is creative, the execution of the dishes is excellent, and it's got a nice, fun atmosphere. I've gone with just two or three people, and I've also gone with a party of ten. It's fun both ways (though I love going with more people because I get to try more stuff!).
Highly recommended! I would definitely advise making a reservation if you have a big party.
Social Place Hong Kong
Shop 303, 3/F, Silvercord, 30 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
2/F, The L. Place, 139 Queen's Road Central, Central
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