Favourite Hong Kong restaurants of photographer Mark Chung, who knows his way around some homestyle kitchens
For a man who often eats in a hurry, Wan Chai is heaven, from Chung’s local teahouse to popular Thai newcomer and a Fred Flintstone-style roast rib feast. He takes out-of-towners to Kowloon dai pai dongs
Being a photographer, most of the time I cannot afford to be too discerning about what I eat. It’s not a matter of choice but of my routine. Often, I shovel in whatever I can get my hands on. Luckily, my neighbourhood in Wan Chai has much to offer, from local teahouses to three-star Michelin dining.
On any given day you can likely find me at Lukyee Tea House (1 King Sing Street, Wan Chai, tel: 2574 1489) or Chan Kwong Kee Cafe (Linway Court, 69-71 Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai, tel: 2891 9695). Lukyee specialises in steamed dishes, from carp belly to black bean spare ribs, commonly found in any local kitchens. Chan Kwong Kee has a full kitchen with so much wok firepower that the aroma from their lunches draws crowds from blocks away. It offers home cooking to those who can’t afford the time to cook for themselves.
Sometimes I need to cater to large crews from here and abroad. On such occasions I recommend street stalls for their atmosphere and local cooking, such as Mui Kee Cookfood Stall (5/F, Carnarvon Plaza, 20 Carnarvon Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2721 2123.
If you prefer to dine al fresco, consider Keung Kee Dai Pai Dong (Shop 4, Yiu Tung Street, Sham Shui Po, tel: 2776 2712). Each place has its own signature dishes and theirs are golden prawns – deep fried king prawns coated with duck egg yolk – and ginger steamed chicken.
Near the Wan Chai MTR is Gem Restaurant (Winsan Tower, 98 Thomson Road, Wan Chai, tel 2834 4887), a local version of a Western steakhouse. They offer various cuts of meat, but if you are feeling extra carnivorous you can order the whole roast rib. It’s a big portion of beef grilled to perfection in a honey glaze. Fred Flintstone would approve.
On the other hand, if you are in the mood for a quick snack that is loaded with calories, try the Insta-Noodle French toast. It’s basically a pan-fried bread stuffed with instant noodles, sausages and cheese; everything about it is so wrong yet it comes out perfectly. I wish I had thought of that. I wish more restaurants would be this adventurous.
During lunch and dinner, one cannot help but notice the aroma flooding from Samsen (68 Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai, tel: 2234 0001), a modern Thai restaurant. Traditional dishes such as pad Thai and green mango salad are made with fresh ingredients from nearby Wan Chai Market. Samsen also offers premium signature dishes. For starters, you must try the pounded green papaya salad with crispy pork or the fiery fried marinated pork collar, followed by the wagyu beef boat noodles. The heavily flavoured dishes are best accompanied by a selection of fresh fruit blends, and topped up with a sinful portion of Thai red tea ice cream.