Friends, it's time for another edition of Things I Ate! This time, I'm sharing what I ate in Hong Kong when I made a quick stop there late last year. Whenever I'm in Hong Kong, I often go for the more traditional, local eats mainly to reminisce and relive some of the flavours of my childhood and it was no different this time! Quick disclaimer before we jump into the food, I was not paid to advertise any of the eateries featured in this post. I just love sharing good eats!
Congee for Breakfast
Whenever I visit Hong Kong, I have to have at least one congee meal for breakfast. Congee is a savoury rice porridge, made with rice and water in its most basic form. Often, it's made with other combinations of ingredients as well. Some classic and popular combinations include congee with pork and century egg, or congee with fish and ginger, but really the combinations are endless!
I like to have my congee with a side of zha leung (炸兩) which is a fried dough wrapped in rice crepe, covered in soy sauce, peanut sauce, and sesame. You can't forget the pan-fried noodles with soy sauce (豉油皇炒麵) either!
There are many places that serve congee in Hong Kong, but I had mine at Seaview Food Shop (Hoi Keng Juk Deem 海景粥店茶餐廳) which is actually a chain restaurant that specializes in congee. They do a pretty great job at making delicious congee. I went twice in the few days I stopped over in Hong Kong!
Dim Sum for Second Breakfast
It would be odd to write a post about traditional Hong Kong eats without mentioning dim sum. When I lived in Hong Kong as a child, we used to go every Saturday with my extended family. It was a chance for all of us to gather, catch up with each other, and enjoy a good meal together.
The beauty of dim sum is that portions tend to be small and bite-sized, so that you can try a variety of dishes. Some of my favourites include ha gao (蝦餃 , shrimp dumpling), siu mai (燒賣, a pork and shrimp dumpling), and cheung fun (腸粉, a rice crepe roll, normally with a protein filling - my favourite filling is shrimp).
I think most families have their go-to places for dim sum, mostly where it's convenient for most of the family to convene. I did have a really memorable experience at a traditional tea house called Lin Heung Tea House which I think is worth a visit. Or you can visit Tim Ho Wan, which is famous for being the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world. I haven't made it out there yet (my dad doesn't believe in Michelin stars so he gets grumpy when I ask him to go!) so let me know how it tastes!
Wonton Noodle Soup for Lunch
Another Hong Kong favourite of mine is wonton noodle soup. It also happens to be one of my dad's favourite things to eat, and he used to take me to Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop (麥文記麵家) for a bowl when I was younger. He actually used to frequent this restaurant with his family as a child, so it has been around for a while! When I used to go years ago, Mak Man Kee used to be a quiet establishment where you could walk right in and get a table. To my surprise, when I went this time around, there was a line-up to get into the restaurant! Thanks to a food guide writer who recommended this place, their wontons are now a hot commodity with tourists coming from all over for a taste.
I can't deny that it was a little annoying to suddenly have to wait in line for my favourite wonton noodles. At the risk of sounding like one of those elderly people who shake their fists at teenagers, telling them to 'get off my lawn!', I did catch myself thinking, "darn food writer! Leave my favourite wonton place be!", but at the end of the day, I can't complain if it keeps the place in business, right? Also, yes, I do see the irony of complaining about queues when I'm writing a post introducing good eats myself...!
The wontons at Mak Man Kee are plump and filled with shrimp, not pork, which I actually prefer. The noodles are springy, not soft, just like wonton noodles should be!
Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop is located at 51 Parkes St, Jordan, Hong Kong. If you're taking the MTR, get off at Jordan and leave the station from exit C2.
Steamed Milk Pudding for Dessert
Mak Man Kee happens to be right next door to the Australia Dairy Company, a shop famous for its steamed milk desserts. Again, thanks to that darned (just kidding!) food writer, the line-up outside it is long these days, but if you go literally to the next street over, you'll find Yee Shun Milk Company (港澳義順牛奶公司), which also sells this famed dessert, but with less of a line.
Originally from Macau, Yee Shun Milk Company is famous in its own right, having so much success in Macau that it opened up shop in Hong Kong. I personally can't taste much difference between the puddings at the Australia Dairy Company and Yee Shun Milk Company. So if you want to get a taste of this dessert but don't want to wait in line, hop on one street over!
My personal favourite is the hot steamed milk pudding with ginger (薑汁燉奶). The steamed milk has the texture and consistency of soft tofu. It's silky smooth with a mild sweetness to it, and with the kick of spice with the ginger at the end, this dessert really hits the spot! They are also famous for their hot steamed milk with double film (雙皮奶, the bowl on the right in the photo above).
Yee Shun Milk Company has a number of locations in Hong Kong, but the one near Mak Man Kee is located at 63 Pilkem St, Jordan, Hong Kong.
Pineapple Butter Bun at Teatime
You may have heard of pineapple buns from Hong Kong. If you haven't, they aren't made out of pineapples but they are called pineapple buns because the crust at the top of the bun (which is made from sugar, lard, eggs, and flour) looks a bit like the skin of a pineapple. While pineapple buns can be found at most local bakeries in Hong Kong, they are often enjoyed in cha chaan tengs (or what the Hong Kong Tourism Board dubs as Hong Kong-style diners) with a slab of butter in it. This snack is called bo lo yau (菠蘿油) which literally means 'pineapple butter'. If done right, the bun is hot and toasty, softening the cold butter, leaving a divine mixture of temperatures and textures in your mouth from the crispy crust of the bun, the soft body of the bun, and the creamy butter.
I had mine at Kam Wah Cafe (金華冰廳), a cha chaan teng that has been around since 1972. They are famous for their pineapple butter buns, so give it a shot the next time you are in Hong Kong. Pair it with a HK-style milk tea for a great afternoon snack!
Kam Wah Cafe is located at 47 Bute St., Prince Edward, Hong Kong.
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