Part of the reason I was so ready to get to Hong Kong was that I was watching old episodes of No Reservations – especially repeating the one for Hong Kong when I realized that I hadn’t been out to Tai Po Market . . . well in at least 12 years. Why not make a day of walking in Bourdain’s footsteps? Plus, roasted meats!
First – here’s a list of (most) of the places Tony went when he was in Hong Kong – I decided I’d go out to Tai Po Market for Ping Kee and Yat Lok (although I saw the next day there was a Yat Lok in Central). Then I made plans to meet my former co-workers Monica and Jenny at Tung Po at the Java Road Cooked Food Center.
First, Tai Po Market is out in the New Territories, where I probably spent only 2% of my time in Hong Kong when I was living there. So after 40 minutes on the subway and train (I’m so dated I still think of it as the MTR and the KCR) I arrived at Tai Po Market.
Exiting out MTR exit A1, I walked straight for about 10 minutes, made a right turn and a little past the Cooked Food Center on the main town square was roast meat specialist Yat Lok. Famous for their roast goose and roast pork, I ordered a plate of each. Oh my goodness, do they do a really good roast pork. Seriously, I think its better than the stuff at West Vila and definitely better than the very expensive Yung Kee – both of which are excellent, but really Yat Lok was even better.
And the goose. I could only make stupid noises after eating the goose.
One of the best ways to distinguish a great Cantonese place – hanging meats in the front window.
If you saw the No Reservations episode, there’s probably one of the most beautiful sequences dealing with food ever filmed, where the noodle maker is rolling out the noodles by bamboo pole. While Josh wasn’t really accurate with saying there were only about 3 places left that made handmade noodles, the truth is they really aren’t that common.
Ping Kee was where Josh and Tony ate at (and where the handmade noodles were sold). Since I just had the big meal at Yat Lok, I only opted for the lo mien – dry noodles with lard. They were excellent, and really, the denseness of the noodles really came through. You don’t get noodles of this quality in Shanghai and only at a few places in Hong Kong.
After digesting and walking around for a while, I met up with my former colleagues Monica and Jenny for dinner at Tung Po. I had actually been to Tung Po many years ago with my cousin/roommate Patryk. Tung Po is basically a ‘dai pai dong’ – a big sign restaurant, or what traditionally were outdoor eateries – moved indoors. There’s still a few surviving dai pai dongs in Central/Sheung Wan, as well as Jordan/Yaumatei/Mongkok. I do think sometimes food tastes better when served by guys wearing Wellington boots.
Started with the daily soup. Here’s a good tip, when you’re at a Cantonese restaurant, order the daily soup. We do like our soups, and we make good ones. This is pork with carrots and winter melon.
Sometimes in crowded restaurants, especially if you have no reservations and a small party, you’ll be asked to share tables – dap toi. We shared with 2 other parties, but we were group A.
Pork Knuckles. Crispy on the outside, succulent and juicy in the middle. I’m sure these aren’t good for you.
Mantis Pods with garlic. Wow. These were amazing. Not cheap, but wow, I would eat another one right now. (In Cantonese these are called ‘pissing shrimp’)
Squid ink noodles. Garlicky. And really satisfying.
The surroundings at Tung Po.
Final Damage for 3
Information on all three restaurants is readily available. I really love Tung Po, and the food at Ping Kee and Yat Lok is excellent. I probably wouldn’t travel all the way out to Tai Po Market again (especially since you can get handmade noodles at Wing Wah – upcoming post alert! and there’s a Yat Lok in Central) but if you’re ever out there. Mmmm.