May 2008

Eating in Hong Kong II

Meet Christina Fok. I cannot read Chinese, but I gather from the visual that she used to be a chunky swimmer and now she’s a thin business woman. It’s good to know that it’s not just Americans spending exorbitant amounts of money on the quest to be thin. Is weight obsession a mark of developed countries? Sadly, I think so.

Uninspired by the weight loss ad, The Astronomer and I headed to Wing Wah Bakery on Nathan Street in Mongkok for our first treat of the day.

Wing Wah (榮華) has been around since the 1950s and is one of the two most popular Wife Cake (老婆餅; lou po beng) manufacturers in the city. Although there are a number of different varieties available, we went for the traditional one ($4 HKD) filled with winter melon paste.

The innards were sweet, but ordinary. The crust, which was comprised of layers upon layers of flaky goodness, was the star of the show. The layers were so light and delicate that pieces of it stuck to our lips.

The streets of Kowloon are filled with traditional Chinese medicine and dried goods stores selling all sorts of interesting stuff.

Here’s a closeup of some dried, silvery fish. I wonder what the Chinese use these little guys for.

I’ve only had one egg tart prior to coming to Hong Kong, but I made it my personal mission to find the city’s very best. Here is the first candidate from the 5-Star Bakery (Tougha Mansion, 502 Nathan road, Kowloon – $3 HKD). The crust was amazing—buttery and flaky, but the filling was so egg-y that I felt like I was eating a sweet quiche. A good effort, but certainly not the best. By the way, all the egg tarts that I consumed on my trip were served hot, which really ups the tasty factor.

The Astronomer grabbed a blueberry and cream doughnut ($7 HKD) that he loved. We were impressed that the filling was made of actual blueberries.

Two bakeries and one MTR ride later, we found ourselves at Kowloon Park.

I find parks set in giant metropolises very romantic. Here’s the flamingo pond inside the park.

After walking through the park and gawking at flamingos, The Astronomer and I headed to Causeway Bay. Our original plan was to try Bo Innovation‘s cutting edge Chinese cuisine, but the newly relocated restaurant was still under construction when we arrived. We made a new reservation for a few days later, but needed to reformulate our game plan for the time being. I didn’t want to think on an empty stomach, so I headed to my third bakery of the morning!

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Hong Kong has a lot of bakeries. The Happy Cake Shop at 106 Queen Street in Causeway Bay isn’t shiny and pretty like its competitors, but they make a helluva egg tart.

This here is my vote for Hong Kong’s best egg tart (I drew this conclusion after several days of intense research). The crust is flaky and oh so buttery, while the filling is sweet with just a touch of egginess. Served warm, the tart melted in my mouth and melted my heart.

The Astronomer also has difficulty thinking on an empty stomach. However, instead of a baked good, he decided that he needed something a lot more substantial. We walked two doors down to an eatery without an English name located at 108 Queen Street.

I sipped on a cold milk tea ($11 HKD), while The Astronomer munched away. The tea tasted like a heavily caffeinated and less sweet version of Thai iced tea. According to my friends at Wiki, “Hong Kong-style milk tea, often known as dai-pai-dong milk tea, is a beverage originating from Hong Kong. It consists of black tea sweetened with evaporated milk, and is usually part of an afternoon meal in Hong Kong tea culture.”

I forgot what The Astronomer ordered initially, but he was told by our waitress to go with something different because his choice was much too spicy for a white boy. I suggested that he try the Chicken Rice with Sweet Corn Sauce ($25 HKD) because it sounded interesting, and he surprisingly agreed.

The dish was comprised of a mountain of rice topped with chicken pot pie filling. It tasted very very mild; perfect for a Midwestern boy.

After our impromptu meal, we walked toward the Bowrington Road Market. On the way, I saw lots and lots of tasty roast meats.

I was quite full at this point, but I couldn’t help trying a new dessert at 111 Wan Chai Road. This breast implant look alike is called put chai ko and is a traditional Chinese red bean pudding. ($4 HKD). I took two bites, The Astronomer took one and we tossed it in the trash. Red bean pudding is a tasteless waste of space.

According to Cha Xieu Bao, Bowrington Road Market (21 Bowrington Road, Causeway Bay) is the home of one of the best noodles in Hong Kong you haven’t heard of.

It’s also home to caged live chickens. There’s something iffy about the juxtaposition of live and dead chickens in one small space. I kind of feel for the chickens.

We came to the market specifically for the curry noodles sold at Shop 3 (Hoi Kee Roastie Specialist 海記燒臘飯店). The numbers weren’t written clearly on the stalls, but we could tell by the heaps of dirty bowls coated with an orangey sheen that we were in the right place.

The Astronomer and I were really impressed with Hoi Kee’s curry noodles ($22 HKD). The broth was thick, a bit spicy and full of tender hunks of lamb. The egg noodles were tangly, texturally interesting and held on to the curry well. I can’t believe I never thought to pair noodles with curry. I now see the light!

The crowded streets of Causeway Bay. Isn’t it crazy how much Hong Kong resembles Chinatowns in the U.S. (i.e. Boston, New York, Philly)?

Roast geese just hanging out.

Next, The Astronomer and I ducked into Lee Kum Kee (38 Jardine’s Bazaar, Causeway Bay) for some sweet tofu sprinkled with “brown” sugar. The tofu was warm, silky and so very fresh. Really awesome stuff!

Afterwards, we explored the Delay No Mall. I found this super-cute all-over print hoodie that I desperately wanted, but couldn’t bring myself to pay $80 USD for it. The best part of the whole complex were the PacMan tiled walls on the bathroom entrances.

Afterwards, we hopped on the double decker trolleys and rolled to the waterfront.

Before checking out the convention center, we cruised by the Hong Kong Arts Centre to see if they had any exhibitions. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything on display at any of their galleries, so we had to settle for a bright sculpture of a horse out front.

Here’s another cool piece near the front entrance.

The convention center, which is located on Victoria Harbour, is primarily made of glass. The monument outside was erected in honor of the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China in 1997.

On our way back to Kowloon, I stopped by the Hoixe Cake Shop (55 Hankow Road, Tsim Sha Tsui) for one more egg tart ($4), bringing my daily total to three. The filling was good and sweet, but the crust was too oily. I am a mad man!

When we got back to Mongkok, The Astronomer and I went on a crappy run. Cities are great for just about everything but running. It’s a shame that our hostel was far from all of Hong Kong’s lovely parks. After our run, The Astronomer popped into a restaurant next to our hostel for a quick dinner.

He started with a steamed barbecue pork bun ($4). I didn’t take a bite, but The Astronomer said it was very good.

He finished with a bowl of wonton noodle soup ($15). The Astronomer commented that the broth was bland and the wontons had too much greenery.

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12 thoughts on “Eating in Hong Kong II

  1. The “Sliming Programme” advertisement is really an integral part of every media in Asia nowadays. In addition to that, is the “Whitening cream” ! So scarry!!!

  2. Fantastic post! I’ve never been compelled to try an egg tart, but I think I’m gonna stop by the Chinese bakery to pick up a couple today. 🙂 Oh, and that wife cake looks glorious.

  3. Mmm, egg tart… I bought an egg bun with a chewy pastry in Philly’s Chinatown once; it changed my life. I spent the next several months trying to find that bun or at least that bakery again, but still haven’t remembered where it was. What a loss!
    Everything looks delicious. This put me in the mood for noodles.

  4. My phylocsophy:
    “If it’s on the plate it’s food, if it moves off the plate, kill it and put it back on the plate. “

  5. Sari – Vietnam isn’t totally obsessed with being thin yet, but being white is a chief goal among women.

    Tia – Nice! Let me know how that goes. I’d like to see a Floridian egg tart!

    Tanglethis – KC’s pastries? That place is fully of awesome (and cheap) Chinese desserts.

    Trinh – Thanks! 😉 I try my best to excel at eating.

    Bern – what are you talking about?

  6. Oh, good heavens…I used to live in Hong Kong (my husband is Chinese) and I miss everything about Hong Kong…except the smell and the heat!

    Those little dried fish are used as a flavoring/ “sung” (a dish that’s eaten over rice). Just before the rice is done steaming, you add a few of those dried fish to the top. They plump up a bit and give a salty fishy flavor to the rice.

    But I have to say…I’m SO disappointed you didn’t make it out to the New Territories to Yuen Long – the Hang Heung (I don’t know know how to spell that in English!) wife cakes are THE BEST IN THE WORLD. There are two shoppes up there…one that sells them prepackaged, probably like you bought at Wing Wah. Around the corner, down the alley, is a little shoppe that sells the same wife cakes, but fresh out of the oven. TO DIE FOR. I don’t know how many Chinese people got a good laugh out of me, a little white girl, sitting at the train stop, eating a wife cake like a hamburger, getting crumbs everywhere…with my eyes rolled back into my head. They are THAT good. The pastry is tasty, and flaky, and the filling isn’t too sweet, and isn’t too dense. It’s also not too much, to overpower the pastry.

  7. Hi Aunty Lolo
    Where exactly is the Hang Heung in Yuen Long?
    Near Yuen Long MTR?
    I m going to HK this wk & really want to get my mouth full of the wife cakes :O

  8. Food trip should always be in the travel activities list. You tried a lot of cakes there. I envy you. T T
    It seems every street corner of Hongkong has a bakery. Pastry sellers are all over the place. They mushroom everywhere. \(^ ^)/

  9. Hoi Kee Roastie Specialist is AMAZING! Best curry noodles ever!!
    I highly recommend it!
    Also, check out Yat Lok in the New Territories for the best roast pork and goose I’ve ever tasted!

  10. If u are a fan of egg tart, you can’t miss the portugese egg tart in Macau! They are the best in the whole world!!

  11. Not exactly familiar with kowloon side of hong kong but i think most of the places you mentioned here werent reviewed,so they are ordinary places for locals. Its interesting read.

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