Of course, one could not leave Hong Kong without ever sampling authentic Chinese food. This was very clear when my friends and I were just planning our trip. Nevertheless, we constantly challenged ourselves to go for the real thing without making too much our pockets suffering. After all, we needed to do some serious shopping as well (which I will write about soon).
Despite our self-imposed budget limitations, we were able to find many pleasant surprises in Hong Kong.
After checking into the hotel, Francis and I decided to go for authentic Chinese right away (Mich and Chu arrived the following day). Our hotel was in a very good location. We stayed in the Yau Ma Tei district, which is just two stations away from Tsim Shat Sui and Mongkok (where the great shopping finds are). We were one or two blocks away from Nathan Road. And Temple Street shopping is just beside the hotel.
Because we were quite hungry, Francis and I decided to look around near the hotel. I’m really not picky about the ambiance, as long as the food is good. We ended up in a rather gritty, carinderia-type place in one of the side streets near Nathan. I’d have to admit I was a bit anxious at first about how everything would turn out. When my family and I were in Hong Kong just before the handover in 1997, we had difficulty ordering at a real Chinese restaurant because the menu was all in Chinese characters.
But 11 years later, it was good to see that more, if not almost all the establishments had menus printed in English already.
We ordered “fried rice”, which pretty much tasted like the Yang Chow fried rice that is popular here in the Philippines. Delicious! The rice was a bit moist and wasn’t dry, which made it a lot more tasty.
The garlic squid was also a certified yum-yum. It really wasn’t spicy, but the pinch or two of chili powder left its taste on the lips instead of the tongue.
Later during the night, while going around Mongkok, I sampled the fish siomai. While I knew siomai since I have it here all the time, I bothered to ask the vendor how they call it in China or Hong Kong. True enough, they still called it siomai. The siomai was relatively good and cheap, although I really wasn’t crazy about it. It tasted like fishballs in siomai wrapper. I’d give this 7 out of 10.
The same vendor also sold sausages, squid balls, squid tentacles, and chicken feet.
On our third day, after a long day at Disneyland, we found this gelato store in Tsim Shat Sui named Mamma Mia. Craving for it, I ordered the Choco Hazelnut flavor. The place had the usual flavors, but what got my attention was the Yakult flavor. I have never been a fan of Yakult, but I took a picture of it for posterity.
Yes, we did try out McDonald’s a couple of times, especially when we were in a hurry to jump from one place to another. I noted their faster service, despite the influx of customers and tourists. Everytime I go abroad, I would make it a point to sample items which are not found in the stores here. Our group particularly enjoyed the ebi (shrimp) burger, which was scrumptious. I had this twice or thrice in my entire stay! I also took advantage of visit to McDo to order their clam chowder. It was almost authentic flavor-wise, but they should have put a little flour or cornstarch to make it thicker.
For our last supper in Hong Kong, which we dubbed as the “Bonggang Lunch”, we searched again near our hotel, since Francis and I were raving about the food from the carinderia three days earlier. Mich and I wanted to eat Peking duck. Soon enough, we found the Tao Lee Yuen Cafe & Restaurant on Temple Street.
No, they didn’t have Peking duck. But Tao Lee Yuen, the owner said, they serve Canton duck. We were intrigued, and so we chose to eat there. We ordered 1/2 duck, which was good for our group of four. And not bad at all! It only cost us HK$70 or around P420. The skin was very crispy and the meat was very moist.
We also enjoyed the Sweet and Sour Pork…
as well as Eggplant with Dried Fish.
Considering everything we had ordered ate (we ordered rice thrice!) we only spent around H$70 for the entire meal. But aside from the great authentic Chinese food, we enjoyed the good service. Mr. Tao advised us well about the food, and helped us ensure that we didn’t order too much. He and his staff of waiters were very hospitable. And he speaks English! We couldn’t leave the place without having a snapshot with him. This place is highly recommended. Visit the place at 119-121 Temple Street in Kowloon. Telephone is (852) 2385-0314.