I spent two months in Hong Kong and, if you eat at local rather than expat places, eating out is cheap. So I ate out a lot. These are the hole-in-the-wall places I went to (other than noodle places, which are covered in a separate post).
Sang Kee Congee Shop
G/F, 7-9 Burd Street, Sheung Wan
Really good fish flake congee, which is what they are most famous for. Pork and century egg also nice, although pork shreds interfered with the texture. On later trips had fish balls, which were fine, and pig giblets, which I really enjoyed. Only one time in four were the deep fried dough sticks crispy and fresh. We must have been lucky and got them just after they’d been brought in, they were definitely sourced from somewhere else.
Sing Heung Yuen dai pa dong Mai Lun st
2 Mei Lun Street, Central
A nice place to sit, amongst the Chinese cool kids, and sample some uniquely Hong Kong cuisine, i.e. Western food of the fifties and sixties given an Eastern twist. The traditional thing to have is instant noodles in a tomato based broth, but macaroni won on taste and texture grounds. They are also known for their lemon and honey toast, done with a toasted white bun, though we opted for kaya toast — a kind of coconut and pandan leaf curd on the same white bun. I would come here for the Hong Kong experience, rather than the food, although we did enjoy the food in a cheap comfort-food type way. It’s really busy at lunchtime on sunny days. Be prepared to hover for a while before you can grab a table.
Kwan Kee Claypot Rice
Shop 1, Wo Yick Mansion, 263 Queen's Road West, Western District
We really liked this place. Claypot rice is prepared freshly, be prepared to wait 40-45 minutes, but the crispy bottom is well worth the wait. Get something with eel on the top. Staff don’t speak English but, when they saw us, they gave us an english menu. We may actually have benefited from not speaking Chinese because we ordered at just after 9.30 and suspect that we actually just missed the last ordering time for claypot rice, but it wasn’t worth the hassle for the staff to try to explain that. We also liked the other, non-claypot dishes that we tried esp. the “kale” with salted anchovies (which is actually gai lan), but also the squid, celery and lily root. Another special here is a hot-pot with lamb, which is an unusual meat to see on a menu in southern China, but the time we tried to order it they were all out. Possibly our favourite dinnertime hole in the wall. (Sang Kee was a firm favourite for lunch.)
Block C, G/F, 265-267 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai
Go for the cha sui. Don’t expect any menu, when you sit down the waitress will tell you what is available in Chinese and expect you to order immediately, so just say “cha sui” or be prepared to do a lot of pointing and gesturing at things you saw in the window if you want something else. But why would you? The other roasted meats are fine, but not in the same league. The portion of meat is not massive, but it’s very cheap and very good. The rice isn’t up to much. Apparently the curry brisket side is good too, but we didn’t get to try it.
Se Wong Sun
G/F, Fortune Mansion, Cross Street,, Wan Chai
This was our chance to try snake soup. We chose this place because of a helpful open rice blogger who compared several snake restaurants, and said this had the most generous amount of snake. It also had the added bonus of being conveniently located near Wan Chai MTR. There was no english menu, but we already expected that from reviews. We ordered set meals A & B, each two soups and a rice. Luckily the man sitting next to us spoke english, and said we were being given a choice of topping for our rice. We chose snake and frog, we could also have had chicken or deer. First soup was the snake soup. V. generous amount of snake, which tasted quite lemony, slightly tougher than chicken, soup was slightly herbal. On the table were boxes containing chrysanthemum and wonton bits to sprinkle on top. We did, most didn’t. Second soup was where the meals differed. One was a pale broth with a lychee in it, slightly sweet, which the woman said “snake soup” as she put it in front of us. The other soup was darker and richer. Possibly turtle according to some of the on-line reviews. Apparently C and/or D come with glutinous rice, but we didn’t see anyone eating that. Rice was average. Frog was very gingery and peppery, snake was more lemony and herbal. I begin to think that this is the taste of the snake, and not just the marinade.