To be honest, Hong Kong has never been high on my list of places to go: it’s crowded, people are rude, and I do like being able to see the sky sometimes.
However, the food is superb yet inexpensive, and that in itself is worth the (occasional) 4-hour flight there. Add in the fact that my friend Ginny happened to be working there for 6 months (read: free accommodation), and our friend Adrienne and I jumped at the chance to visit over a long weekend last October.
Thursday, 1 October 2015
I was looking forward to the famous Kwan Kee Claypot Rice ( 坤記煲仔小菜) – Ginny had even made a reservation to make sure we got in, but unfortunately our flight was delayed and by the time we got there (about 10pm) they had run out of claypot.
Somewhat disappointed and very hungry, we ended up at Yardbird (33 Bridges Street, the nearest MTR seems to be Sheung Wan but it’s probably easiest to cab as it’s a bit of a trek in), a very hip restaurant in the Mid Levels / Sheung Wan area that serves izakaya / tapas-style dishes, mainly yakitori. It was pretty crowded on a Thursday night and it was not cheap (despite what I said above) – I think we ended up paying over SGD50 per person for a couple of dishes and a drink each, but it was well worth the (occasional) splurge.
Friday, 2 October 2015
Ginny had to work, so Adrienne and I went in search of food and ended up Kam Wah Cafe (47 Bute Street, in between Mong Kok and Prince Edward MTR stations) which serves the most amazing bo lo pao (polo bun)! This is reportedly one of the best bo lo paos in HK. You can also get them in Singapore but they’re nothing like this mouthwatering specimen (on the left, with egg tarts on the right).
A soft bun with a mildly sweet crust on top and a very sinful slab of butter in the middle: happiness in a mouthful.
The egg tart is also good, although it wasn’t as mind-blowing as the bo lo pao.
We ended up over-ordering because it was almost noon by the time we got here and we were ravenous, so in addition to the bo lo paos and the egg tarts we each ordered one noodle dish. I had this really delicious plate of fried noodles with chicken but it was, sadly, too much to finish.
After that we walked around the nearby Flower Market just a few blocks away.
I have complicated feelings about cut flowers, mainly because I have doubts about how environmentally-friendly the industry is, but they are undeniably pretty and such a great perk-me-up. There was much more than just flowers too – succulents, terrariums and other decorative plants were equally abundant here, along with gardening tools and seeds.
There is a Goldfish Market near the Flower Market, which is essentially a row of aquariums and pet shops. Thanks to our lack of sense of direction, we wandered one big round around Fa Yuen Street looking for this market and only realised it when we started recognising the roadside stalls. We eventually found the market by asking some kind locals (who weren’t entirely sure either) and some luck.
Our next stop was Shum Shui Po, which is an electronics hub, to look for a camera adaptor – but we were told that for camera stuff we should head to Mong Kok. There I found it but a quick online search revealed that it would be cheaper to buy the adaptor online from Lazada.
By this time we were tired and hungry so we cabbed back to Mid Levels (in Hong Kong Island) and queued for half an hour at Kau Kee Beef Noodles (21 Gough Street) to try their famous beef brisket noodles. This is the queue at 5pm on a weekday!
Although the queue seemed ridiculously long, it actually moved quite fast – the shop itself is so tiny and cramped that you end up sharing a table with strangers and nobody lingers over their food. The menu on the table is in Chinese but they have menus in English available as well, as the couple sitting next to us (also Singaporean) kindly informed us when they overheard us trying to figure out the menu items. Really, it was so cramped there was no way they could have avoided hearing us.
We tried the clear broth beef brisket and curry beef brisket and tendon (dry), both with ee-fu noodles. I think they’re both excellent, with the curry being more spicy and a bit heavier on the stomach, so it depends how you’re feeling at the time.
After that we had a drink at the nearby Agnes B. cafe just across the road while waiting for Ginny to get off work. I had an iced rose apple tea (HKD48) which was just a tad too sweet, but I was just happy to have wi-fi and rest my feet!
For dinner we finally got to eat at Kwan Kee Claypot Rice (263 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun) and we had a real feast!
2 claypots (1 salty fish + chicken, 1 pork + lap cheong (Chinese sausage)), 1 plate of fried silverfish (which had some calamari) and 1 plate of kailan with garlic, all of which were excellent. The claypot obviously is what people come here for but I highly recommend the silverfish as well, and the vegetables were very fresh. All this for HKD303 (approx. SGD50) in total.
For dessert we made a cross-town journey in a series of trams for matcha ice cream at Via Tokyo (Shop 1A-1B, G/F, Leishun Court, 106-126 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay).
This was my first time taking the tram although I’ve been to HK a few times previously. It’s actually a cheap and convenient way of getting around and they weren’t crowded at all (unlike the MTR) at this time (about 9pm on a Friday).
Another popular place – we had to queue quite long (upwards of 30 minutes) here and again ended up sharing a table with another group, but rewarded ourselves for our patience with a 3-flavour sundae (Hokkaido cream, matcha and genmaicha) (HKD58, approx. SGD10).
The perfect way to end off a long day!