even with the great non-chinese options in hong kong, it’s impossible to ignore the sheer supply of great local food. cantonese people know food (I should know) – and it shows in the eating, and in the quality of that eating.
it’s far too easy to outgrow your trousers in an embarrassingly short amount of time (and I’m going again in about a week!)
the australian dairy company, 澳洲牛奶公司
this is one of two popular options for steamed egg pudding in hong kong (the second is just below). steamed egg pudding is a soft, delicate dessert reminiscent of silken tofu, but even softer. the best ones are delicately sweetened, and both dairy and slightly eggy – but I’ve found that the hong kong renditions are much sweeter than I would have liked, though certainly nowhere near the sweetness of an american dessert.
this place is as traditional a hong kong diner as you’d get (also refered to as a chacanteng, which translates literally to tea diner). the place is cramped and filled with loads of people catching a bite, and you’re directed by cantankerous men and women directing you to tables you would have thought were too small to be communal.
so we sat down with a couple, admiring their breakfast of toast, scrambled eggs, and souped macaroni – while we finished our bowls of silky pudding. it’s a worthy experience for sure.
yee shun milk company, 義順牛奶公司
this is the other popular contender for your milk pudding cravings, but I think I prefer the australian company’s rendition better. this one seems a little less smooth, a little sweeter – but really, if you’re new to this, the differences are marginal.
both places serve a simple menu of local teatime classics, like egg sandwiches, instant noodles and spam – it probably seems pretty strange to first-time visitors, but these cheap staples make an easy choice for harried city people.
tsim chai kee, 沾仔记
this, though – this is rave-worthy. the cantonese are known for two dishes in particular: roast meats, and wanton noodles (wantons are small shrimp-and-pork dumplings in a silky egg skin, served in soup or fried); and people flock to this tiny isle to try them at their best.
there are two eateries along wellington street famed for their noodles – this one, and mak’s noodle (which I didn’t have the chance to try). springy egg noodles, silky dumplings stuffed full with minced pork and shrimp (by a skilled lady sitting at the back), and the option of so-tender sliced beef. the soup is rather too salty for drinking, to my inkling, but everything else is fantastic eating.
maxim’s food² (yes, the superscript is them)
embarrassingly, my only roast meat touchpoint was at the airport, just before we boarded the flight back to singapore – but fortuitously, it was at maxim’s. maxim’s is a popular chain, famous for their roast meats served on rice (a little akin to crystal jade in singapore), and even their airport offerings are pretty much miles above what you’d get outside hong kong.
I had a selection of meats: the roast pork (known as charsiu), soy sauce chicken (known as yaogai), and roast goose (konwn as siuarb). my favorite was the first two, both slightly fatty, very tender (but with a nice chew), and juicy from expert cooking – the goose was a little less successful, with the meat a little too dry and the skin shriveled.
get it over rice, and be sure to get the accompanying condiment of spring onion and garlic mashed in chicken oil – utterly delicious.
this chain has outlets even in singapore – and I went expecting a little bit more than the just-about-decent-only desserts the outposts dish out here. but it’s pretty much all the same sort of processed fruit and central-factory-made jellies.
this place does have sheer variety going for it – the result of an array of ingredients permutated infinitely – and is a good, easy choice for a sit-down, or an introduction to chinese-style desserts (especially if you aren’t asian).
dessert playground, 沛公甜品
another dessert chain option, I thought this place had more interesting options – mostly because of their focus on all sorts of pudding and millefeuille cakes.
we ended up with a malted horlicks pudding, topped with what seemed like nestum wheat flakes – the pudding had enough salt to bring out the malt, and the flakes brought texture to what was otherwise a mono-textured beige pudding (which really wouldn’t have been as great without). very simple, and really quite a nice dessert.
the millefeuille crepe cakes seem very heavy on the cream, but were popular with the teenagers seated next to us – might be worth a try!
lord stow’s bakery
shipped in daily from the egg-tart-land that is macau, these egg tarts disappear quickly, and for good reason. this unassuming, tiny hotel-cafe on the ground floor of the aged excelsior hotel serves up the delicious custardy desserts in the portugese style – which means dark, blistered custard in cups of flaky pastry.
I think the shipment is about once or twice a day, and then they run out till the next – so make sure you go earlyish!
just a few more photos to round out our eating – deep-fried pork intestines (definitely not my sort of thing), skewers of food ready for a dunk in your boiling liquid/ sauce of choice, and old ladies stirring up bags of chestnuts (can’t wait to eat these) in woks full of charcoal.
there’s no going hungry in hong kong.
p.s. the opening shot of herbal jelly (also known as guilingao, was a bowl of the bitterest, most herbal stuff I’ve ever had. I figure it’s authentic, as opposed to the milder forms we get in singapore – but gosh, it’ll make you realise NOTHING is ever as bitter as chinese bitter.
restaurant details coming up!