Nanchang Lu is abroad, and my first stop is Hong Kong! (en route to Paris, London, Scotland and then Champagne)
I love Hong Kong. I love the noise, the vibrant colours, the smells, the heat and humidity. And above all – the food. Oh, the glorious, abundant food!
Thanks to the handy timing of a medical conference, my friend Doctor S. and I spent a whole week in Hong Kong staying in Sheung Wan District on Hong Kong Island, eating our way around the area each morning and evening.
Sheung Wan is just one stop west of Central on the MTR, but it feels like a regular Hong Kong neighbourhood with its local wet market and dried seafood purveyors lining Des Voeux Street West. The eats are much more local too, with fewer fancy restaurants and lots of small wonton noodle shops and old style Hong Kong eateries.
Here’s a whistle stop tour of my five favourite spots:
1. Seng Kee Congee
You’ve got to love people who are so passionate about congee they start cooking at two in the morning in order to be ready for the breakfast trade each day.
The congee base is made from pork bones, lean pork and dried scallops, simmered for four hours (hence the 2am start) before the addition of rice and tofu skins, resulting in a smooth and delicately savoury rice porridge. The cook then adds ingredients to your taste and serves it alongside a small bowl with soy sauce and julienned ginger and scallions. At Seng Kee Congee there are no fewer than sixty-one congee varieties to choose from, each delicious no doubt, but none more so than the popular fish slice congee.
Congee is a deeply comforting dish, warm, simple and tasty. And please don’t make up your mind you don’t like the stuff until you’ve tried it here – you might just become a convert.
|Check out the number plate on the van parked in front of the restaurant…
Seng Kee Congee
7 Burd Street (corner Hillier Street)
Open 6.30am-9pm Monday to Saturday, closed Sundays
2. Sheung Wan Market
Fresh fish! Bok choy! Roses! Roast duck!
You can find all these and more at the Sheung Wan Market, an indoor produce market open seven days a week. Like all wet markets this one makes for a fascinating wander: frogs wriggling in tubs, butchers carving up pork, live eels, and row after row of neat green Chinese vegetables.
The buzz is all on the top floor where there are a dozen or so simple Hong Kong eateries serving breakfast and lunch – yum cha, congee, noodles, soup, and simple fried dishes. It has very local flavour (all of the vendors eat here, as do the locals before or after shopping) and bargain prices so you can happily sit with a pot of tea and a steamer full of dumplings and take it all in.
Sheung Wan Market
Corner Morrison Street and Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan
Top Floor Eatery
Open 7 days a week from 3.30am until 3pm (many vendors closed on Sundays)
3. Mak An Kee Wonton Noodles
|Supreme Wonton Noodle Soup – $HK46
Hong Kong’s wonton noodles are justifiably famous, and some of the best can be found here at Mak’s, a tiny formica-tabled shop on Wing Kut Street. Slender egg noodle threads with a textural bite, clear peppery soup, and the treasure sitting atop it all – fat, springy prawn wontons, each just a single plump seasoned prawn the size of a man’s thumb, wrapped in a paper-thin translucent wrapper.
The other notable on their menu is the beef brisket wonton noodle soup ($HK50) – a dark, beefy broth flavoured with five spice and ginger and topped with the softest, most tender and succulent pieces of braised beef brisket, complete with gelatinous tendons. Underneath it all are the same fine noodles and tiny prawn wontons. Amazing, according to my dining companion Doctor S.
(I should note, this is not the famous Mak’s on Wellington Street, but a Mak’s from the same family. And according to Hong Kong food writer Janice Leung-Hayes (e-ting
) this one is better, and also cheaper.)
Mak An Kee Wonton Noodles
37 Wing Kut Street
Open seven days
4. Coffee at The Cupping Room
Doctor S. knows a thing or two about coffee, and finds it difficult to face the prospect of morning food adventures with me without a strengthening long black or two. So I trust her opinion when she says that The Cupping Room has the best coffee in Sheung Wan, or perhaps even all of Hong Kong. Case closed.
(For those who can’t – despite my encouragement – stomach congee for breakfast, The Cupping Room does a very decent Western breakfast.)
The Cupping Room
Cleverly Street, corner Queens Road Central
5. Rest your Feet at Cleverly Street
After all that walking around Sheung Wan eating, you may need to find a quiet spot to sit. There’s none cuter than the Cleverly Street Sitting-Out Area – green, leafy and peaceful. Just don’t try and hang out your wet washing there, because that is expressly forbidden.
Click on the link above for an interactive map of these five spots in Sheung Wan.