a belly-fullfilling outing
we arrived – armed with 2 foodie guides and 1 a4 printout crowded with eatery names. i’d often wondered why people raved about food in hong kong. this time, i was determined to find out.
we’d arrived in hong kong very early. so, the logical first stop was a traditional dim sum house: lin heung tea house 蓮香樓 (lit. lotus aroma hall). it certainly packed in the nostalgia and crowds. it was barely 8am, saturday, and we couldn’t find seats. the harassed waiter took pity on us and eventually found us 2 seats at a huge corner table.
because demand consistently outstripped supply, we had to be vigilant whenever the dim sun trolley was trotted out of the kitchen. one had to be extremely nimble-footed in order to achieve modest success in getting their hands on the food they had eyes on. or have a very nimble-footed companion.
but this place was kinda wasted on me since i couldn’t touch anything with seafood and 95% of the signature dim sum dishes were made with seafood.
lunch was at causeyway bay, a certain 1-star michelin wanton noodle place – ho hung kee. we didn’t know it’d moved from a shophouse to the 12th floor of a posh shopping centre – hysan place at causeway bay. but helpful ex-neighbours sent us off with directions. we ordered wanton noodles and beef fried kway teow (2 of its better known dishes). the wanton noodles were good but the beef fried kway teow was bad. it was too oily and too hard.
late afternoon, after walking around for hours, we decided to hunt for that famous beancurd shop in causeway bay area: yan wo dou bun chong (人和豆品專門店) to satisfy our dessert cravings. it was such a nondescript shop along jardine bazaar (#38) that we couldn’t find it at first. we sat at a small table at the entrance because it was so full. the bonus: we could watch the uncle fry their signature beancurd/with fishcake.
the beancurd was really soft with that melt-in-the mouth quality. it was so good we ordered seconds to take away together with fried bee hoon and braised beancurd (for dinner). everything was good. in fact, this was the best meal of the day – simple, heartland fare.
one of our objectives was to check out that ubiquitous, uniquely hong kong establishment – the tea cafes 茶餐廳 . fast, open for long hours daily (6am to 12am), infamous for brusque service, they offered a selection of fusion food targeted at the masses. simple no-frills food that tasted oh-so-good.
we went to honolulu cafe first since it was near our hotel at wanchai. this was a place famous for their flaky crust egg tarts. we got there just before 7am; it was not full but already bustling.
those egg tarts lived up to the name. i’d have carted some home, if not for lack of luggage space and worries about mishandling. we also tried the very popular tai cheong bakery 泰昌餅家 for comparison and concluded tai cheong was definitely over hyped. for an expert’s view on the best egg tarts in hong kong, check this blog out. to make your own at home, you may want to refer here.
at night, we went back for some more chow. now, this beef kway teow we ordered, beat ho hung kee’s hands down. the wok hei was discernible and contributed that extra oomph factor.
the next one we visited was lan fong yuen 蘭芳園 at 2 gage road. this place appeared to be a tourist favourite. we got there at 715am and there were already others waiting outside. at 730am, when it opened, a sizeable crowd materialised – mostly tourists from singapore, taiwan, china. maybe that’s why the wait staff was very cordial and patient. i heard that the queue could get really long so it would be good to arrive early.
this cafe was famous for 2 things: pork chop bun and milk tea.
we had the milk tea and pork chop instant noodles. the milk tea didn’t impress. the pork chop was quite delicious. i wished we’d tried the pork chop bun but the mood then was in favour of instant noodles. i read that the french toast was good too. but overall, this place didn’t leave a deep impression.
capital cafe 華星冰室 was a recommendation gleaned from the books. we were not as early, maybe after 8am but we managed to get seats. we saw more locals than tourists here. a good sign.
we ordered truffle scrambled egg on toast, wasabi pork chop burger and milk tea. all were surprisingly excellent. the milk tea was much better than lan fong yuen’s. will be back for more.
on our last morning, we decided to try congee: sang kee congee 生記粥品 at burd street. this was also packed with locals trying to down their breakfasts in record time but there were also quite a few tourists.
because we couldn’t really understand the names on the menu, we mistook smooth pork to mean lean pork meat. turned out to be liver instead (which i didn’t eat) and there were lots of them! the congee was very smooth, the meat balls were very flavourful and they were very generous with the ingredients. the fried fish cakes were delicious too. we could appreciate why this place packed in a consistent stream of customers.
in hong kong, one must have roast goose at least once. so we headed to the michelin starred yung kee 鏞記. earlier we had called to pre-order the highly touted smoked pork with pine nuts 松子雲霧肉 but were told we had to pay a deposit first. erm? huh? how? that was rather put-offish. still we decided to give it a shot and headed there for dinner 1 night. we got there at 830pm, way past dinner time, so we got a table immediately.
the roast goose rose to the occasion but the rest of the dishes didn’t. the char siew was mediocre, the mushrooms and diced beef were average. and it was the most expensive meal we had. next time, i’d give this place a miss and try yat lok instead.
i was craving for steamed egg custurd so my long suffering friend had to tag along with me to hunt it down. we went to the yee shun milk company at lockhard road, causeway bay. this was a macau off shoot and apparently very popular in both macau and hong kong. when we got there, it was full (lots of mainland tourists) so we bought to take away. i had it on the go and couldn’t remember how it tasted like.
turned out australia diary company, 2 streets away, was closed that day. maybe that explained why yee shun was so packed.
before we left, we had to grab some wives’ cakes from the famous hang heung. some friends and colleagues swore by it, but personally, i didn’t fancy it as much. i’d have settled for any wives’ cake that’s available in the airport.
alas, we had to bid hong kong farewell before we could finish half the foodie recommendations. well, if i’m ever going back, i’d definitely check out these other places:
kwan kee claypot rice 坤記煲仔小菜 – touted as the best in hong kong
home feel 住家菜 – home cooked flavour chinese cuisine
tung Po 東寶小館 – hong kong style road side zi char
borgo c 中意仿 – home cooked food and desserts
joy hing roasted meat 再兴烧腊饭店 – delicious char siew
lung kee 龍記飯店 – succulent sucking pig (note that they have moved from gage street to 12 queen victoria street)
yuen kee dessert 源記甜品專家 – for traditional desserts