When I discovered that the cheapest way to get from the Philippines to Malaysia was via Hong Kong, I was ecstatic. Long on the list of my desired stopovers, I have been wanting to eat in the former British city for years for its Chinese traditions. Specifically for the dim sum and the famous open-air dai pai dong restaurants and hawker stalls, which have since declined in number due to various reasons, including a sanitisation movement enacted by local regulatory bodies (however not without protest). A formerly prominent feature of the city's culinary scene, we were lucky to have visited two of the remaining dai pai dong areas, one at the Temple Street Night Market (famous for seafood) on the Kowloon/mainland side and the other on Stanley Street on Hong Kong Island.
|Stanley Street dai pai dong, January 2014|
Every evening on the northern end of Stanley Street, a handful of dai pai dong come to life, lining the street with their foldaway/makeshift tables and plastic stools in preparation for an always bustling crowd of locals, expats, and tourists who know an opportunity for good food when they see it. English menus are available, however at our stall spoken English was tricky. So stringing some of my basic Mandarin together to exchange with their Cantonese (the local dialect), we ordered a braised eggplant and chilli hotpot, a grouper and tofu hotpot, and salt and pepper squid.
|The aftermath of our meal after being too excited/hungry to take photos prior|
While their was no fault on the squid, it was the hotpots that provided a blinding reminder about how good Chinese food can be. The eggplant melted in the mouth within its punchy, slightly sticky yet unctuous braising sauce; while the large meaty chunks of grouper were perfectly seasoned, moist and complemented by soft tofu which lightened the otherwise rich and salty dish. These with a bowl of simply steamed white rice - to ensure not an ounce of sauce was left unenjoyed - resulted in a complete, satisfying and enriching meal to finish off a night of drinking craft beers.
|Exterior of Yat Lok restaurant, 34-38 Stanley Street, Central|
Down the road was the only eatery we visited twice during our three day stay in Hong Kong: Yat Lok restaurant. Their specialty is roast goose, and special it is. Not unlike the more common roast duck, their amazingness arises from ultra crispy skin, given life by a combination of seasonings that I'm not privy to, and succulent, tender, equally-seasoned meat. On the first visit, I ordered roast goose on rice, allowing the meat to sing for itself.