I was talking about Hong Kong food in the last post, today we will bring you for a walk and maybe some discussion about food in Hong Kong. I am not the adventurous type, so don’t worry, there won’t be any weird food photos. Please bear in mind that I last did this in 2006, so there will be some gaps in my memory and there’s not a lot of photos to share. Too bad really, at that time, the SD cards probably held like 128MB of photos and the cameras were of the 4 megapixels type. Maybe one day I will go there and re-do it all again.
This is your go-to transportation-cum-debit card while you are in Hong Kong. If you have been using Singapore’s eZ-Link card, London’s Oyster Card or Melbourne’s myki Card then this is very easy to understand. It can be used on all public transport except taxis and some of the red buses. Convenience stores and vending machines also accept them too. A typical card costs HKD$150, with a value of HKD$100 and a deposit of HKD$50 (refundable upon return). If you’re planning to use a lot of public transport, then this is the card to get.
Australia Dairy Company 澳洲牛奶公司
Waking up early in Hong Kong is a must, don’t kid yourself if you’re planning to eat at the various ‘famous’ restaurants in HK. There is no such thing as a telephone reservation in advance, this is Asia, you queue. Even if you’re not a fan of following advice from blogs or through TripAdvisor’s ratings, you won’t be wrong if you find a restaurant with a long queue in front, that’s THE place.
Australia Dairy Company is located at 47-49 Parkes Street in Jordan. From the Jordan MTR, take exit C1 or C2 (nearer) and look for the queue. We were there at the godforsaken hour of 730am in the morning. No queue. Which was a good sign. Don’t be fooled by the Australian sounding name, this is a typical Hong Kong restaurant (茶餐廳: char chan thang), with the elbow-room seating, the hustle and bustle, the shouting of orders and the chitter-chatter of patrons.
This restaurant is the paragon of excellence (gold standard) in service and speed. There is a set menu with a couple of varieties. A few of the must-tries include its scrambled eggs, toast bread and the steamed egg white milk pudding (蛋白燉鮮奶). Once seated, the waiter will come by with the menu and awaiting your orders, no signalling required. Once he has the order taken, you can start your timer, I bet that within 5 minutes, your table will be served. They only expect one thing in return, besides payment of course, this is no place for you to relax, once you have finished, please leave the table for the patrons queuing nicely outside.
By the way, Australia Dairy Company is closed on Thursday. Other days 0730-2300.
Having filled out stomachs with good breakfast, it was time to walk it off. Hop on to the Jordan MTR and make your way to Sheung Wan MTR.
Sheung Wan & Central Walk
Coming out from exit B of the Sheung Wan MTR station, make your way towards Western Market (323 Des Voeux Road), this building was built in the early 1900s and is currently a shopping centre with themed shops. The Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal is located across the road from the Western Market.
Walk towards Wing Lok Street, walk up and walk down via Bonham Strand West. Despite being nestled in between skycrapers and shophouses, these two parallel streets are teeming with traditional Chinese medicine shops and shops selling dried seafood. Some do speak English, but it’s preferable that you bring along someone who is fluent in Cantonese. These medicinal halls are quite knowledgeable and expensive too. Especially if you’re interested in ginseng root and bird’s nest.
At the end of Bonham Strand West, turn right and walk along Possession Street until you come to Hollywood Road. No, there is no Walk of Fame here, no palm or footprints on the floor. But they do have one particular thing in abundance. Hollywood Road and Upper Lascar Row are dotted with antique and curio shops. The very place to stock up on Asian-themed items for decorations.
Halfway along Hollywood Road, we came to a temple, Taoist if I’m not mistaken. Known as the Man Mo Temple (文武廟). Man stands for literature and Mo stands for War. If you are interested to have your fortune read, shake the bamboo cylinder with the fortune sticks while praying for your future, the one particular stick that falls out, would be your future. The translation (in English) can be found in a book on sale at the temple.
Kau Kee Restaurant 九記牛腩
For those that have been following this blog, you would know by now that I am a fan of beef noodles. Although I only ever had one blog post with regards to that while I was in Singapore. Here in Hong Kong, you have Kau Kee Restaurant. There are others around but most locals would swear on this, and it is proven with the queue.
I have actually forgotten how it tasted, since it was in 2005 when I visited the shop. But I do have an inkling that the beef brisket was quite soft and chewy. Blame the follies of youth not to have a picture of that particular dish. The shop is located at 21 Gough Street, just off Hollywood Road at the Aberdeen Street junction.
We are now at the Central portion of Hollywood Road, continue until you reach the Central-Mid-Levels Escalator. This is the world longest covered outdoor escalator. It is a fun way to check out the rest of Hong Kong, starting from the residential areas right to the commercial areas. Just make sure you don’t come here during morning rush hour or when it is time to go home from work. The direction of the escalators also changes, from downgoing in the mornings to upgoing in the evenings.
Taking the escalators, we exited at the level of Staunton Street. The surrounding area, including Elgin Street, Shelley Steet, Peel Street and Old Bailey Street, is known as Hong Kong’s SoHo area. With their quaint bars, funky shops and creative markets. It’s where you go to look hip.
Going back to the escalators, we exited back into Hollywood Road and walked further down, to what is now the former Central Police Station Compound. Unbeknownst to all, except to those who follow the cops series in Hong Kong dramas and movies, the front façade of this particular compound is always used to indicate the Police HQ.
At the junction between Hollywood Road and Wyndham Street, turn left. This area comes alive in the evenings till late at night and is famous to locals and foreigners alike as Lan Kwai Fong.
We walked all the way towards the Central MTR line, where you are given a choice, tram or train. We chose the former, making our way up the double-decker trams, trundling through the busy city above ground, instead of underground with the MTR. It is a cheap mode of public transport and can be paid with the Octopus Card. The rate was HKD$2 then, now I think it is HKD$2.30.
With the tram, you can either go back to Sheung Wan, or travel towards Causeway Bay for the modern shopper’s paradise. Or you could just stick to it and go all the way through the hustle and bustle of the city, right up into the typical Hong Kong suburbs of tall apartments and condominiums.
Tim Ho Wan 添好運點心專門店
This is probably the cheapest Michelin 1-Star restaurant in the world. They have a few branches located throughout the city, but we went to the one at Kwong Wa Street in Mongkok. I think the place has moved elsewhere since then. They open daily from 10am to 10pm. And as usual, no reservations allowed. You queue up at the counter, in which you will be given a number and a time to come back for your seats. Yes, they are also a paragon in time keeping. Most of the time, when you return at the exact hour stated, your seat will be there for you. But please don’t be late!
Luckily the queue wasn’t that long, and we were given a place after half an hour. Oh, I forgot to mention, sometimes, if you’re there queuing on a late morning, they might actually turn you down and ask you to come in the afternoon. If you know Mandarin, try reading what is written on the papers pasted on the entry in the photo below.
Sorry, food photography wasn’t the in-thing back then when there were no smartphones, no Instagram, no Twitter and definitely no blogs.
(to be continued)