Posts filed under ‘hong kong’
Ah, tofu. So versatile. Humble tofu, you take on the flavours of your neighbours with much gusto and much skill, making you the perfect ingredient for a damn good dish. You’re perfect stuffed with fish paste and fried, steamed with prawns and a smattering of fried garlic and spring onions, and miso soup would be lonely without your presence. Pockmarked Aunty Ma would have been a nobody without you. And yet you excel not only in your savoury incarnations, but in sweet delights.
Behold: the Tofu Fa (豆腐花). Silken tofu in a clear sweet soup.
A bit of exploring around the streets of Sham Shui Po today led us to this famed little shop specialising in tofu. Kung Wo Soybean Factory is one of the oldest companies in Hong Kong, having been established over a 100 years ago – in 1893, on Canton Road in Mong Kok. They’ve gotta be doing something right. And I shall testify for that – the 豆腐花 I had was seriously the best I’ve ever had – impossibly silky, melt in your mouth goodness. Smooth and fresh, with no hint of the bitterness that some tofu desserts still retain despite the copious amounts of sugar some vendors add to the soup. The clear soup was not too sweet, but sweet enough so that I, a promising future diabetic, didn’t need to help myself to spoonfuls of the yellow sugar laid out on the table in tubs. Perfectly warmed, though a cold version would have been excellent on a hot summer’s day. And at only $6HKD a pop, who can complain? Such a small price to pay for such deliciousness. Are you getting the hint yet, London?
Charming little place, but again – eat and go – grab a bag of the fried tofu ‘lumps’, or several blocks of fresh, silky tofu for dinner. The possibilities are endless. Apparently they do a mean soy bean milk as well, and their freshly pan-fried tofu with fish paste (diligently made to order) is to die for. There is a limit to how much tofu one can have in a day, though…
公和荳品廠 | Kung Wo Soybean Factory
118 Pei Ho St, Sham Shui Po
Tel: 2386 6871
Open daily 7am-9pm
MTR station: Sham Shui Po (Pei Ho St exit)
Today is already the 6th day of the Year of the Rat, so there’s obviously been lots and lots of eating going on. I haven’t been able to celebrate CNY with my family for three years because of uni, but thankfully I had the time to come back this time! So many things I’ve forgotten about – all the noise, the jubilous new year songs (which become rather irritating after the first day), red red everywhere, and of course, the sheer amount of food that is consumed. I have something of a bottomless stomach, but lately the eating has caught up to me. I am stuffed to the brim, every single day. Click under the cut for more about the fooooood.
The Australia Dairy Company is a must-go destination for any discerning foodie in Hong Kong, and thus forever has throngs of people winding outside its doors, anxious to get in and enjoy their famed scrambled eggs and steamed milk puddings. And dear god, do the waiters work fast to get everyone in and out as quickly as possible! If you think Wong Kei (in London) is bad, ADC can be positively frightening. With that said, they’re not rude per se, just super efficient and if you just so happen to get in their way for a second too long, heads will roll.
The whole shebang is an adventure in itself. You can just feel their adrenaline, and the noise from the shouting and the constant flow of people in the cramped aisles just adds to the chaos. It’s pretty much a guilt-trip if you end up taking way too long eating your grub, so don’t come here with visions of long, relaxing munching and slow sips of tea. It’s eat-and-go, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t think this is possibly one of the best meals to have in the city.
Look at the menu and there’s actually quite a lot of different foods – noodles, various sandwiches and drinks. But aficionados and long-time customers go for ADC’s most famous dish – scrambled eggs. Served alongside pieces of toast for breakfast, and in between slices of pillow-soft bread in the afternoon, this humble food has somehow managed to impress the picky Hong Kong public. There’s even a Facebook group dedicated to declaring undying love for their scrambled eggs, which currently has
5,661 5,688 members (including yours truly).
Scrambled eggs are probably the simplest thing you could ever make, but it truly takes skill to transform something any old Joe could make, blindfolded, into something so wonderfully tasty that makes people want to come back for more. ADC’s scrambled eggs are the lightest, fluffiest eggs I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating, and they are oh-so-moist. Not too salty, perfectly seasoned and the thick, soft white bread it’s served in creates a match made in heaven. How can I live with paltry, rubbery scrambled eggs again? Poetry should be written about their eggs. Really.
Australia Dairy Company 澳洲牛奶公司
47-49 Parkes Street, Jordan, Hong Kong
Many times I’d walked past 蘭芳園 (Lan Fong Yuen) and gazed at it in wonder, but never stopped because I thought it to be more of a take-away stall (though I noted that you could perch on the small wooden stools on the raised platform in the front). Sneaky peeps – turns out there’s an entire restaurant hidden behind that facade! Entrance is from that small corridor on the left of the stall.
I was meeting two friends who happened to work in the Central district, so we arranged to have lunch there. Unfortunately, between the hours of 12:30-1:30, all the restaurants (even so-so ones) in the area are attacked by the brigade of OLs (office ladies) and besuited bankers and other working folk. When I got to Lan Fong Yuen at 12:50 the place was already heaving and there was a queue steadily forming outside. Because of its popularity, they have a policy that if all members of your party aren’t present, you can’t get a table. Two of us ended up waiting for the last person just outside of the restaurant, behind the stall, which was basically their kitchen. We watched the efficient staff do their magic in the tiny space – one man was in charge of making the famous ‘pantyhose’ milk tea (practically five orders a minute, from what we saw), another in charge of their equally famed thick toasts with peanut butter/condensed milk as well as their pork chop buns, and another piling on the toppings onto platefuls of steaming-hot ramen before the waiters would whisk them off into the restaurant.
We were eventually seated at a table in the corner, along with two other groups of people – they come and go quite quickly, so in the span of half an hour there was a cheerful group of young male office workers, a young-woman/old-man couple, two teenagers, and then a tourist couple from mainland China. It’s certainly elbow-to-elbow dining, but it’s fun because you get to peek at what everyone else is ordering (the satay beef noodles looked a bit putrid, but judging from the reactions, it was divine; seeing different dishes also made me wish I’d ordered a pork chop bun – it’s so round and cute!).
I already knew what I wanted to order – I had their signature braised ramen noodles with pan-fried chicken breast and scallion oil, and a hot cup of pantyhose tea. Who knew that such simple fare could be so good? I’m not generally a fan of instant ramen, but at the very least, it was cooked very well – al dente and not soggy and watery. The pan-fried chicken breast was also surprisingly good – juicy, and with a crisp skin and SO. MUCH. FLAVOUR. There was sliced cabbage for texture, and the scallion oil was magnificent, it really brought the whole dish together. Humble food but oh-so-good (and probably oh-so-unhealthy!). It cost $36 for the lunch together (roughly £2.50) and we left feeling happy and satisfied. It’s worth noting as well that the service was really friendly – which you don’t really expect it to be, considering how busy and popular the place is (as a rule of thumb, the more popular a place is here, the less staff feel like they have to try hard with good service).
It’s worth mentioning that ‘pantyhose’ tea doesn’t really refer to what’s in it (bless you), but it does refer slightly to how it’s made. The brew is filtered through a nylon fabric that hangs like a stocking, thus its name as ‘pantyhose’ tea – reason being it really filters out any imperfections and grains in the tea, as well as somehow integrating the evaporated milk and tea together more smoothly, which results in a super silky brew. The strength of the tea is also a result of it being brewed for exactly 13 minutes, according to the owner. At times, I’m tempted to try it on my own with an unworn pair of stockings just for fun. (A trick that my dad uses to make his tea smoother, actually, is to add discarded egg shells into the pot – allegedly, some famous milk tea vendors also add this to their brew – the remaining egg white sticking to the inside of the shell somehow helps to add a smooth texture to the tea. You still have to filter it, of course, but in this case we just use a fine sieve.) By the way, the above image is courtesy of Reuters, who wrote a pretty good article on pantyhose tea, as well as Lan Fong Yuen (take a look at the related video!).
Afterwards I had a good stroll around the markets of Gage Street (where Lan Fong Yuen is located) and Graham Street. I swear I never get bored of doing so (I’ve already been twice in the week I’ve been back in Hong Kong). There’s just something so alive about these markets and streets that I can’t help but feel a pang of sadness every time I think about how they’re going to tear it down. A post about the area will probably follow, eventually.
蘭芳園 (Lan Fong Yuen)
2 Gage St, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 2544 3895
Open daily 7am-6pm
Hot, silky custard
in a crumbly puff pastry –
an eggy delight.
Far better than
those cold, stodgy custard tarts
sold back in Britain.
I’m not as informed within the Hong Kong foodie world as I’d like to be – so it was only this past week that I finally made a visit to Xǐ Yàn Sweets down in Wanchai’s Wing Fung Street. All credit goes to my mom, who is always reeling off names of restaurants that I should try out, for varying reasons!
Xǐ Yàn Sweets is the brainchild of artist-come-restauranteur/chef Jacky Yu. The original Xǐ Yàn started in 2000 as a ‘private kitchen’, or speakeasy/underground restaurant, that are popular in Hong Kong. The menus change constantly and you eat what the chef decides to prepare that day, a good indicator that the food served will be fresh and seasonal. In fact, written at the bottom of the sample menu for the speakeasy is the following disclaimer:
Note : the menu may be subjected to slight changes if the chefs believe that certain ingredients available for the particular day is not as satisfactory for serving.
To find out more, check out a wonderfully written and comprehensive review of the original Xǐ Yàn over at Cha Xiu Bao!
The name of the establishment, Xǐ Yàn (囍宴), is a nod to the traditional Chinese wedding banquet, but the dishes couldn’t fall further from the rigid, set styles of banquet fare, where there will be one chosen regional cuisine throughout the entire course progression. The marriage, if you excuse the pun, of many different regional Asian cuisines at Xǐ Yàn means that in one night you’ll be able to sample delectable dishes ranging from sweet Japanese tomatoes with sesame sauce (which my tomato-aversive mother declared as the best she had ever tasted) to coconut chicken soup. A peek at the sample menu from their website also reveals dishes such as foie gras somen, tofu ice cream, and scallop on glutinous rice with olive & black bean paste – showing a true fusion of some of Asia’s best cuisines, with a slight Western/European touch.
Goldfinch Restaurant may not be a familiar name to most, but perhaps its dimly lit interiors, smoked mirrors and characteristic leather booths will stir up memories of one of Wong Kar-wai’s most famous films, In the Mood for Love, where the small, intimate restaurant is the unique setting for So Lai-chen (Maggie Cheung) and Chow Mo-wan’s (Tony Leung) first dinner together.
It can be said that restaurants like Goldfinch laid the foundations of Hong Kong’s first ‘fusion’ movement; it opened in the 1960’s when the economy was only starting to see some light, and dining out was more of a luxury. With a nod to Hong Kong’s colonial identity, restauranteurs and chefs began integrating more ‘Western’ style dishes into their menus, such as steak and pasta, while adding a Chinese twist – thus serving ‘see yau sai chaan’ (literally ‘soy sauce Western meals’), the colloquial description that has come to characterise such unique eateries.