A few weeks back, one of my fellow foodies suggested a “day of progressive eating.” The idea was novel to me and the territory unknown — an entire day devoted exclusively to eating – and I’m always one for stretching myself and my stomach capacity, so I eagerly got onboard. This also gave us an excuse to try some of the best-rated restaurants in Hong Kong according to the local food website, openrice.com. An itinerary was mapped out: 11 restaurants/food stalls were chosen for the task, most within walking distance of each other, cuisines spanning Chiu Chow, Malaysian, Thai, and local Hong Kong specialties like wonton noodles.
Our first stop was a place I had been meaning to visit for months, Australian Dairy Company. I’ve heard nothing but the highest praise for this restaurant’s simple fare of eggs, toast, and macaroni soup. At the entrance I ran into some friends of my parents, who apparently recognized me even though I had not the slightest clue who they were (and still don’t). It’s always a bit awkward and disorienting when people you don’t know claim to know (of) you.
Though I didn’t know it at the time, ADC was to be my favorite restaurant of this day. But the scrambled eggs and thick-cut toast were spot-on and satisfying in the visceral way that only foods like scrambled eggs and toast could. I could see why even the humble-sounding macaroni soup had secured a faithful following, as the salty broth with supermarket ham tidbits and elbow macaroni could very well be the Hong Kong equivalent of chicken noodle soup.
Australian Dairy Company:
47-49 Parkes St, Jordan
Scrambled eggs with toast.
The exterior, ham and macaroni soup, eggs over easy with buttered bread.
Next stop: dumplings at a well-known shop in Central. I liked the classic pork and chive dumplings best — I’ve yet to come across a better combination and I’m not sure that there is one out there.
Wang Fu Dumpling Shop
102 Wellington Street, Central
The exterior, pork and chives dumpling innards, seafood dumpling innards.
The next place was definitely a miss. Various customers recommended the soy goose on openrice, which ended up being an unappetizing pile of day or days-old goose meat (with black roots still unappealingly attached to the skin) over some tofu that was fried hours (days?) before we placed our order. The choi was good but the appetite was shot. The poor goose didn’t deserve to die for what was done with it.
Sheung Hing Chiu Chow Seafood Restaurant
29 Queen’s Rd West, Sheung Wan
Soy goose over fried tofu.
Stir-fried tong choi with garlic.
At the Thai restaurant that was next on the list, we had a deliciously moist baked whole fish, a refreshing papaya salad, and a so-so soft shell crab curry. The place was tucked away in an alley above a busy wet market in Wan Chai, and the contrast between the relaxed, peaceful lull of the restaurant and the controlled chaos of the street below was noted.
Taste Thai Restaurant and Pub
10-12 Johnston Road 1/F, Wan Chai
Baked salt-crusted fish.
Papaya salad and soft shell crab curry.
It would be plain heresy to do a day of eating in HK without a stop for some wonton noodle soup. At Wing Wah, the ambience was classic old-school Hong Kong and the bamboo noodles were solid — not up to par with our beloved bamboo noodle shop in Tai Po, but sufficient to satisfy a noodle fix, or at least keep us going until our boy in Tai Po returns from vacation. We are counting down the days.
Wing Wah Noodle Shop
29 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai
Noodle soup with shrimp dumplings.
Sadly, my day ended on a downer. Maybe we hit this restaurant at a bad time (it was packed the first time we walked by, and completely empty when we returned a couple hours later) and the cooks were cooked out, but the food at this place made me miserable. The satay had a particularly gristly quality that completely put me off — I think it was just from the marinade or sauce that they basted the meat with, but I couldn’t help feeling like I was eating fur, and nauseating sensation stuck with me for the rest of the night, long after the copious amounts of water I consumed in my multiple attempts to wash it all away.
Katong Laksa Prawn Mee
155 Jaffe Rd, Wan Chai
Iced milk tea with kaya toast.
Mixed meat satay and cendol.
This was my last stop for the day, even as several of my companions went on to try out three or four more restaurants, seriously showing me up. But I felt compelled to stop, not b/c I was tired of eating but because I was tired of eating mediocre food. I plan on devoting a separate entry to my thoughts on this day of eating: about the experience and what I think it says about the restaurant scene in Hong Kong. But I’ll preface this future post by saying that this day confirmed my belief in the overabundance of mediocre restaurants in HK, which dilutes the overall quality of food here. It’s become a tedious chore over the year, sifting through the not so great restaurants in order to find that occasional gem. Whether or not it’s worth doing is a matter of personal preference, but I’ve definitely lost some of the patience with the restaurant scene that I started out with in August. To be continued.