Doug Psaltis, the chef at RPM Italian in Chicago, recently returned from an epic trip to Hong Kong and Beijing. In addition to experiencing iconic sites like the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City, he also did a lot of serious eating. “It seemed everywhere you went food was all the focus,” says Psaltis. “The attention to detail was impressive whether I was having dim sum at the three Michelin-star Lung King Heen or roast pork at a very rough local spot in Sham Shui Po. Experiencing the food really made me look at certain cooking techniques differently.” Here, Psaltis shares his food highlights. 

Din Tai Fung
“This is on the top floor of a shopping mall not unlike many restaurants in Hong Kong. Din Tai Fung is a popular Taiwanese chain that has branches worldwide. They are very well known for their xiao long bao (soup dumplings). The black truffle soup dumplings were so good I had three orders myself.” 3F Cailan Delicacy, Huangpu Garden, Hung Hom, Kowloon, 852/2330-4886 dintaifung.com

Tai Ping Koon
“This was the first restaurant in Hong Kong to specialize in western cuisine when it opened in 1860. It is still run by the same family with a very veteran staff and a classic dining room. I had their famous Swiss sauce chicken wings and the soufflé for dessert, which is like the size of a basketball.” 40, Granville Rd., Tsimshatsui, Kowloon, 852/2721-3559 taipingkoon.com

Butler
“I loved this 20 seat cocktail den run by Japanese master mixologist Masayuki Uchida. The dimly lit sliver of a space is full of very well dressed bartenders who are hand crafting drinks to your liking.” 5/F, Mody House, 30 Mody Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 552/2724-3828

Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market
“Home to over 600 floating homes, this 19th-century fish market has tons of amazing fish and some things that I have never seen before. After walking the stalls we had lunch at a sparse restaurant adjacent to the market. It’s where the fishermen eat when they are done with work. We sat down to a feast of razor clams, live abalone, live sea scallops, and lobster. It was just remarkable how fresh the fish was. Our order had to be called in a day before by my mother-in-law as they shop for each table. The restaurant is very far from being fancy—we sat on plastic chairs.” Landing No. 3, Aberdeen Praya Rd. Hong Kong 

Duck de Chine
“The center courtyard of this very stylish restaurant in Beijing has four wood burning ovens for roasting duck. We ate a grand meal of abalone soup, beef tendon, whole steamed fish, and a couple fantastic Beijing ducks in one of the private rooms. Watching how the ducks were cooked inspired me to cook chickens in a similar way for our upcoming BBQ place Bub City opening this October in Chicago.” 1949-The Hidden City, Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu, Beijing, 86/6501-8881