I knew if I was going to Hong Kong, I needed to make time to get myself over to Macau. Unfortunately that was the extent of my research on the matter and the entirety of my notes simply stated, ‘Day trip to Macau‘. For some reason I had this image of being able to step straight off the boat into a Portuguese paradise and found myself a little nonplussed when I found myself in the middle of the ferry terminal with a dozen buses all going in different directions.
There’s chaos and mayhem and about 15 minutes of staring cluelessly at the bus timetables, before I decide simply to stalk the most touristy looking couple and follow them onto the next bus. It’s only with pure luck that I find myself in the middle Senado Square and surrounded by possibly every single tourist in the world. The Square is all fun and architecture, but it’s easy to become cynical when you start to realise that every other arch is hiding a Giordano or McDonalds.
Turning the corner from the square I spot something that soothes my beast within – a gorgeously browned Portuguese Egg Tart Egg. The shell is gorgeously flaky, if a little on the verge of being overbaked while the custard is lightly torched and wobbles slightly at each bite. It’s slightly overcooked but is bliss to my stomach being the first thing I’ve eaten all morning.
I have a vague goal of trying every Egg Tart I see, before I realise the Koi Kei bakeries are everywhere and by the end I’ve given into the inevitable and simply pop into every Koi Kei Bakery I wander by.
I manage to lose myself in the sidestreets within minutes, despite following all of the street signs. The steep alleys, wining staircases and vibrant greenery are a dizzying contrast to the hustle and bustle of the tourist square only blocks away. Before long though, Egg Tarts aren’t enough to keep my stomach down and I find myself following a group of schoolgirls down a small alleyway (don’t ask).
Set into a little niche in the wall is an Offal stand, curiously free of the lunch rush. I’ve been curious about these stands having seen them all over Hong Kong, a sign in English telling me to simply pick out my ingredients gives me the nerve to just go in. I pick of Fish Tofu, Dumplings with Fish Eggs, Chinese Cabbage and fat sticks of Daikon that threaten to fall off the stick as I pass them over to the owner, to be plunged into the giant vat of stock bubbling away.
There’s confusion as I’m handed back a bowl filled only with Udon Noodles and a double serve of Daikon, and a hilarious conversation takes place between the owner and I as I try to point out to her that the sticks currently cooking in the stock are the ones I chose only moments before. Despite the fact that she’s only using Chinese and I only know English we manage with a copious amount of sign language to get my order together.
I’d been wondering why my serving of Daikon had been doubled, and I suspect now that the owner was just feeling sorry for this strange foreign girl who only ordered noodles and radish!
It’s as though a fire has been set in my mouth. The oil from the Curry Broth stains my styrofoam bowl a vibrant orange and I can feel a thin-film of oil begin to coat my mouth. It’s a hotpot party for one and for 20 minutes it’s bliss as I chow down on my favourite hotpot condiments, all steaming hot and freshly cooked. A deceptively large serving that could easily feed two people, I end up calling defeat towards the end after devouring the dumplings but abandon most of the Udon.
Wing Kee Beef Offal
The back of Guohua Cinema
Next to St. Joseph’s Primary School
Tonkichi Tonkatsu Seafood
It’s an interesting pitstop over to Macau, but I’m back on one of the last ferries of the day and promptly make my way over to Tonkichi Tonkatsu Seafood in Tsim Sha Tsui, a recommendation from a co-worker back home who claimed that the Tonkatsu here was the best she’d ever had.
Tucked away upstairs I’m immediately taken aback by just how large the restaurant is. A number of private booths are set out in a snaking layout around the layout, giving the illusion of space. I’m on one of the few standalone tables tonight and am seated quickly even without a booking, but it doesn’t take long for the rest of the tables to begin filling up with couples and families.
I’ve gone for the full Tonkatsu set menu tonight and the sheer size of the tray that arrives is more than a little shocking, taking up at least a third of the table space. Alongside of the Tonkatsu is a mountain of shredded cabbage along with the staples of Miso Soup and a bowl of side. There’s a fun factor involved as a bowl of sesame seeds are presented along with a pestle, allowing you to crush your own sesame paste, tho I find this more of a novelty as my resulting paste is a little dry.
The breading of the Tonkatsu crunches between my teeth while leaving no trace of oily residue, all complimented by mouthfuls of cabbage and rice. My verdict? Amazing serving size, great coating and deep-frying, but the pork itself was a little bland and I found myself drowning the pork in the katsu sauce provided. It’s an interesting meal, but also clocks up at one of the most expensive dinners I’ll have at a non-Michelin restaurant – dinner is almost 300HK ($28AU) for just one person.
Tonkichi Tonkatsu Seafood
100 Canton Rd Ground fl,
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Kam Fung Restaurant
One of my favourite parts about eating out in Hong Kong was the sheer number of restaurant recommendations I got from friends. A quick plea for help to a ex-HKer got me an entire document of restaurants complete with Chinese names, photos of the restaurants and even Chinese names of recommended dishes!
I found myself at Kam Fung Restaurant by chance, wandering around the Wan Chai area I suddenly realised that one of the recommended restaurants was just around the corner and found myself picking up an afternoon snack.
I’d been told to order three items from the menu: Pineapple Bun with butter, Egg Tarts and Cold Milk Ice Tea with No Ice (direct translation lol). Luckily for me, these three items were easily the most popular on the menu and after observing a few patrons ordering takeaway, I simply stepped up and pointed at the 3 items in question.
Yes, that’s a slab of butter you see in that photo, not cheese. The Pineapple Bun has forever changed my outlook on butter. I’d never been an advocate of thick slices of butter preferring it to be melted into my bread, but the first bite of the Pineapple Bun opened my eyes! The bun itself contains no Pineapple at all, the name simply refers to resemblance of the top part of the bun – a hardened sugary cap sitting on top of a fluffy base, all offset with a bite of creamy butter. It’s ruined me for all pastries since then.
My timing is a little off on this visit, and I make my order just as the last of the Egg Tarts are selling out. Noticing the rather sad condition of the Tarts the owner frowns down at the offending two tarts sitting forlornly in the corner of the tray before deciding to give me both for the price of one. It’s a generous decision and well required, as they are terrible. The custard has hardened and the pastry no longer the flaky experience I’ve come to crave and the offending pastries are soon discarded in favor of the Milk Tea.
The cold Milk Tea on the other hand is a pure revelation – I’d tried the beverage a few times already on the trip, Hong Kong style is made up of Black Tea mixed with evaporated milk and filtered in a sackbag cloth. I’m not one to drink milk with my tea and always found the combination overly bland, but strangely when served cold was much more to my tastes. The temperature letting the sweetness and natural taste of the tea come through much more clearly.
Kam Fung became one of my favourite snack stops and I made my way here multiple times before leaving! The egg tarts never did manage to impress me, but I never left without a hit of Milk Tea.
Kam Fung Restaurant
G/F Spring Garden Mansion
41 Spring Garden Lane
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Keung Kee is known more for a late night snack stop than anything else, it’s location is verging on inconvenient placed smack in the middle of 2 tram stops and the decor is nothing to write home about. But when my friend recommended that I try the Sticky Rice with Lap Cheong (Chinese Sausage), I practically ran here to try it out.
Believe it or not, this is actually on the more expensive side of dishes. I’d grown accustomed to bowls of noodles costing me less than 20HKD so it comes as a bit of a surprise to be charged 20HKD for such a tiny bowl of rice. It’s only when I start digging into the bowl that I begin to realise that looks are deceiving.
The Sticky Rice has been cooked to a delicate fluff before being tossed about with soy, oil and lap cheong, it’s a heady combination that instantly brings a sweetly salty taste to the tongue and although it seems small, the rice somehow expands in your stomach to fill you to the brim.
Sadly I’m on my own tonight, which means that the Pan-Fried Rice Rolls I’ve been salivating over will have to wait until my stomach is empty again!
G/F 382 Lockhart Road,
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Is there any type of food that you’re particularly weak to? My fatal weakness is Daikon, Japanese White Radish. On its own it’s a slightly bitter almost flavourless vegetable, but when cooked properly in fragrant stock the flesh begins to take in all of the flavours it soaks in to become a blissful bite.
I’d been ignoring the Sister Wah recommendation for a few days, it’s location in Tin Hau is on the far side of Hong Kong island and looking at my tourist map is actually just off the side of the map! However, the weather has taken a turn for the gloomy and one rainy morning I decide to make the trek out to Tin Hau to check it out.
Sister Wah’s reputation is for their Beef Briskets Noodle, their stock is cooked up with Daikon in it, meaning that the resulting broth is lighter and sweeter than most. In an effort not to appear incompetent I try vainly to find the dishes I’m after on the entirely Chinese menu, after a few minutes I give up in vain and end up pointing at my Openrice printouts, much to the amusement of the owners who gleefully show them to the staff behind the counter.
It’s a perfectly serviceable bowl of beef brisket, but I notice that a lot of the fat seems to have been trimmed off the cuts. The result is a tidy bowl of noodles, but I prefer a much meatier fatty taste to my brisket. But of course, I’m here for the Daikon.
Be still my heart! The deceptively small photo doesn’t show the sheer mass of the Daikon that came to my table. With the chunks of Daikon averaging 3-4cm each and the bowl filled to the brim I suddenly understand why the owner asked if I really wanted to order Beef Brisket and Daikon. The first bite reveals a perfectly cooked piece of Daikon that just parts between the teeth, delicately flavoured by the beef stock it’s been simmered in and still sits in, inside my bowl.
It’s a peacefully quiet morning, at 11am I’m one of only a few people in the restaurant and the rain outside is keeping everyone indoors. Sadly, all too soon I pull myself out of my chair and have to groan at the sheer amount of food I’ve abused my stomach with. Onto the next meal!
13A Electric Road,
Tin Hau, Hong Kong
Knowing my time in Hong Kong is coming to an end, I make dinner plans with Jason of Life as a Bon Vivant. I’d had the pleasure of meeting him briefly at the Novotel Bloggers Dinner and he’s happy to suggest a place for dinner, Butao Ramen. We don’t know it yet, but it’s about to be featured on television which will swell the queue for this 12 seat restaurant to a waiting time of 2 hours! However, on this night it’s relatively quiet and we’re only in line for about 10 minutes.
I’m rather pleased to see a checklist of options being handed out to the people in the queue, along with the various extras there are options to customise everything from the amount of Garlic to the thickness of the taste! However, wanting to get a guideline of the standard bowl of ramen I end up ticking everything with Normal (boring I know).
The ramen soup options are split up into colours, Black, Green Red and Yellow. Unable to figure out what the flavours are I end up going for the Red option, which turns out to be a Spicy Miso base (much to Jason’s dismay as his Chilli tolerance seems par with Squishies). I’ve gone for my usual extra of a softboiled egg, which comes out perhaps a little harder boiled than I prefer but is essential to finish off a ramen experience.
There’s a thin-film of chilli oil which coats the entire surface of the ramen, it’s pervasive and penetrates the taste of the entire bowl of ramen. Thin slices of pork are tender and fall apart at the first pull of the chopsticks and the mass of noodles is seemingly never-ending, swimming in a sea of red. It’s an interesting combination and while I don’t think Jason or I were totally won over, the queue of 30 people watching us hungrily clearly showed that others were eager to try for themselves.
Savory bellies sated, we’re more than ready for dessert. Luckily for us we have reservations at Riquiqui Dessert Bar, just down the road! But that’s another post all together.
11-12 Wo On Lane
(off D’aguilar St., Lan Kwai Fong)
Central, Hong Kong
Street eating in Hong Kong is almost a sport, there’s a never ending list of restaurants to visit and if my stomach could have supported it I would have spent my entire holiday walking from restaurant to restaurant eating my heart out. The worst part, I didn’t even hit half of the restaurants I wanted to go to!
Coming up next, a 3 course dessert meal and I eat a lot of cake.
eatshow&tell traveled to Hong Kong as a guest of Novotel Hong Kong. All meals in this post were personally paid for.