Connoisseur globetrotter: Tom Parker Bowles talks about his love for Hong Kong

Gourmet globetrotter: Tom Parker Bowles talks about his love for Hong Kong

British meals critic Tom Parker Bowles talks about his love of Hong Kong, his friendship with Sir David Tang, looking for aphrodisiacs in Snake Alley and having lunch along with his well-known mum.

Parker Bowles along with his mom, the Queen Consort, on the Cheltenam Competition

That they had these reside cobras hanging round, wanting fairly pissed off. The man grabbed it, pulling out the bile duct proper in entrance of me, and put it in a shot of rice wine. Tom Parker Bowles is halfway by describing his first meal at Kowloons Snake Alley, when it occurred to me that he in all probability has one of the crucial professional palates on the planet.

As one among Britain’s prime meals critics, his weekly column for Sunday mail he takes it to eating places throughout the nation, from curry homes in Birmingham to fish shacks on the Cornish coast. Be a contributing editor for Cond Nast Traveler AND Squirehe additionally travels frequently and critiques eating places all over the world.

Writer of eight books, in 2007 he printed One yr of harmful consuming, described as a world odyssey in pursuit of culinary extremes. His quest took him throughout Europe, Asia and America in the hunt for adventurous and unique meals: boiled canine in Korea, puffer fish (whose liver, ovaries and pores and skin are extremely poisonous) in Japan and that aforementioned unlucky cobra in Kowloon, whose bile Tom consumed as a purported aphrodisiac earlier than having fun with it as snake soup.

The quilt of a ebook by Parker Bowles

And sure, in case you acknowledged his final title, he is among the many fortunate few who’ve allegedly been eaten by the royal kitchens of Clarence Home, Birkhall, Sandringham and presumably even Buckingham Palace.

His ardour for meals is not that sophisticated. She confesses, merely, that it stems from greed and it stems from his upbringing. My mom was an awesome cook dinner and we had been a household that cherished to eat, she says. We cherished going to the restaurant. He reveals that he nonetheless has common dinners along with her mom, because it is a vital means for her to maintain up along with her youngsters regardless of her busy schedule.

I bear in mind when the queen [Elizabeth II] he died and my stepfather turned the king, I mentioned to my mom, does that imply we won’t go to eating places anymore? And she or he mentioned, No, we have to assist them now greater than ever. So which London institutions get the royal seal of approval? We go to Wiltons, Mount St Restaurant, 45 Jermyn Road and Angela Hartnetts Café Murano. We used to go to The Wolseley earlier than Jeremy left. He means Jeremy King, not too long ago ousted from his Corbin and King (The Wolseley, The Delaunay, Colbert) empire, to the dismay of his many loyal clients.

I am amazed that such a well-known lady nonetheless manages to dine out. I feel individuals acknowledge it, however we by no means stopped going to eating places, says Parker Bowles. Clearly the illustrious clientele of the Mayfairs and St James eating places know they’re taking part in massive once they dine subsequent door on the Queen Consort.

Opposite to its seemingly grandiose background, it disdains pretentious meals, tasting menus, and wherever one feels the necessity to clarify one’s idea. I would a lot somewhat be on a facet avenue in Bangkok, underneath a bridge in Hong Kong, or in Chengdu nibbling on rabbit heads, she says. I am happier consuming on the road.

I’m fortunate to fulfill him within the morning earlier than he flies to Thailand for a meals competition with David Thompson, his good friend and well-known chef. Touring Thailand with Thompson is his concept of ​​absolute heaven, which he compares to touring the Vatican with the Pope. Australian Thompson, an internationally famend Thai restaurateur and cookbook writer, can be the brains behind Hong Kong’s Aaharn restaurant in Tai Kwun.

For all his expertise in cuisines all over the world, Chinese language meals will at all times maintain a particular place in Parker Bowles’ coronary heart. The place he grew up in rural Wiltshire, a neighborhood restaurant was a typical American-style Chinese language, with starchy white prawn crackers and yellow lemon hen. He ate his first correct Cantonese meal aged 13 on the now closed Crimson Pepper on London’s Fulham Highway, which started a lifelong love affair with regional Chinese language meals that additionally sparked a fascination for Hong Kong.

Though we’re speaking through Zoom, his enthusiasm for the town is clear, his face lighting up as he remembers previous reminiscences of outdated Hong Kong. A frequent customer to the town for 30 years, he first arrived when he was 18, recalling his terrifying and exhilarating first touchdown on the outdated Kai Tak airport. You could possibly see individuals doing laundry and cooking as you entered. All of a sudden you got here out of nowhere and bang: there it was.

He first received acquainted with the aromatic port by the outdated colonial staples of purple mailboxes, cops and dim sum trolleys. However what actually fascinated him was the mind-blowing mixture of East and West, a seductive mixture of skyscrapers, markets and avenue meals.

Double barrel final title and well-known mom apart, it is turning into fairly clear that Parker Bowles has a depraved sense of enjoyable and does not take himself too severely. Earlier outings to Hong Kong typically concerned late nights at Mandarin Orientals Captains Bar, getting misplaced in speakeasies and, invariably, hangovers. It is a harmful place in case you’re within the temper for a celebration, he says. You’ll find a drink at any time of the day or evening. He complains that he is too outdated for Dragoni, the place he admits he is spent too many nights, however I’ve a sense that at 48 he hasn’t misplaced his penchant for partying, and you might be in shut quarters with him there quickly.

Holidays apart, her fondest reminiscences are common stays with the late businessman and philanthropist Sir David Tang, an awesome good friend and he or she admits that being in Hong Kong with Tang somewhat spoiled you, attributable to her connections. He knew completely everybody, says Parker Bowles.

Parker Bowles with David Tang

The notoriously colourful Tang, who died in 2017, was often called a lot for his excessive generosity as he was for his breathtaking rudeness. His column spanning royalty, excessive society and celebrities has rightfully earned him the nickname of London’s most related man. Whereas possessing the sensibilities of an English aristocrat and proudly owning an unlimited portfolio of properties in Belgravia, he has at all times thought-about Hong Kong to be his residence.

Evidently in Tang, Parker Bowles has discovered a kindred spirit who has launched him to traditional native eating places similar to Fook Lam Moon and Luk Yu Teahouse, in addition to Victoria Metropolis, Tang’s favourite in Wan Chai, the place Parker Bowles credit the scrumptious bushy crabs as the perfect meal of his life. Stays chez Tang would contain being chauffeured round Hong Kong in a yellow Rolls-Royce and touring to his Sai Kung residence on his superior outdated steamboat. We’d be waited on by Tang workers in white jackets as we sailed by the outer islands.

As soon as he even ended up at a dinner hosted by Tang in a Guilin rock cave. We had been consuming Chateau Lafite 89 with a full banquet and a full Chinese language orchestra taking part in. It was simply wonderful how he did issues. When he died, it was terribly unhappy. Hong Kong has misplaced a beautiful man.

Current visits have included procuring at Lane Crawford for her books printed with Fortnum & Mason and stays at her favourite resort. Sitting in an Higher Home lavatory and searching at Kowloon is without doubt one of the biggest experiences ever, she says. There’s this unimaginable go-get-it perspective to Hong Kong that you just depart feeling upbeat and energetic. This is without doubt one of the biggest cities on Earth and at all times can be. She hopes to return to Hong Kong to advertise her subsequent ebook, which is at the moment within the works and which she describes as prime secret.

The wedding of the then Prince of Wales to Camilla Parker Bowles

As we strategy her residence, we briefly contact on the current announcement that her youngsters Camilla’s grandchildren will play an element within the coronation of King Charles III on Might sixth. Whereas denying any function for himself, he provides that clearly it’s totally a lot to look ahead to and it is one thing Britain does very effectively. Relating to the current inflow of immigrants to the UK from Hong Kong, Parker Bowles says the extra Cantonese the higher. Immigration is what made Britain nice, including that the nation boasts among the finest Chinese language eating places on the planet.

Lastly, I ask in your insights on the progress of Hong Kong’s hospitality trade post-Covid restoration. It is our job as meals lovers to dedicate our wallets to exit and assist our favourite eating places, she says, turning her suggestions to clients. Exit, eat effectively and tip effectively. Use it or lose it.

Tom Parker Bowles High Tables



Great reminiscences on this true Cantonese traditional.
Newman Home, Johnston Highway, Wan Chai, Hong Kong


David Thompson’s sensible tribute to conventional Bangkok delicacies.
1266 Charoenkrung Highway, Bang Rak, Bangkok


Critical, numbness of the tongue, scorching pot.
11 Zhaixiangzi, Qingyang District, Chengdu, China


In all probability the perfect hen soup I’ve ever eaten. Pork is nice too.
Daan District, Taipei



My go-to for prime finish dim sum.

40 Baker Road, Marylebone


Beautiful regional Chinese language delicacies, with two well-deserved Michelin stars.
70 Wilton Highway, Pimlico


A pioneer of Soho Sichuan and nonetheless nearly as good as ever
28 Frith Road, Soho