Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hong Kong - Tung Po 東寶小館

Dai Pai Dongs (大排檔)- a large part of Hong Kong's heritage, now sanitized into mostly municipal services buildings by the government.  Ok, not so sanitized, considering greasy floors and who knows what happens in the deep throes of the kitchen.  There's been hype about Tung Po and it was sheer luck that we got 6 people available together to try it on a Sunday night.  Like the experienced ones tell us, reserve the chicken and the lotus leaf rice.  Ok, all set.

We sat down amidst the hustle and bustle and with the boom box blasting.  Ok, adds to the atmosphere.  Just don't expect to do any thinking around here.  Can't even hear yourself speak.  Soup of the day kicked us off although it was rather blah.  Tasted a little like they ran out of soup and added water to make up the volumes at end of day.  Next..

The advantage of reserving food ahead is that you get it really quickly.  The roast chicken (南乳風沙雞) was well executed - very crispy skin barely hanging on to the juicy flesh and topped with crispy garlic bits.  Great start especially since there was beer and coke on the table.

Similarly, the deep fried pig trotters were excellent.  Thank goodness some of us are pretty health conscious otherwise there would not be enough to go round.

There's been much talk about this dish.  Very similar to Italian style squid ink spaghetti, this was Tung Po's interpretation of squid ink spaghetti but with squid colloid balls.  A+ for innovation although it wasn't as good as I thought.  Overall, it was pretty bland so save for getting black teeth and lips after eating this, there wasn't much else to speak of.  The balls were better and had traces of squid bits in them but I probably won't order this again unless someone demanded it.  

The flower crab steamed in egg white and chinese wine was light but tasty.  Not as good as 三姐, but still very decent and worth the order.  Flower crabs tend to be sweeter but light on the meat available to eat.  If you like something more hearty, substitute for the meat crab (肉蟹).  

This was easily my favorite of the evening.  A simple oyster omelette but oh so yummy.  The eggs were very fragrant and fried to a perfect golden brown.  Complemented by the very meaty oysters as opposed to a more muscular textured version, these oysters offered up more of the oyster taste akin to dried oysters ( 壕豉)as you bite into them and start savoring them on your palate.  

As we neared the end, we expected our duck-sauced lotus leaf rice (鴨汁荷葉飯)to show up but amidst the lengthy commotion, we learnt that it had been given to someone else!  In ordinary cases, one would get most upset to lose the opportunity of trying the house special, but here comes Robby - probably the owner/manager or in Chinese triad terms, the one who speaks (話事人).  His flamboyance distracted us and hoodwinked us into giving him 2 beers from our table, and agreeing to the substitute of the fried noodles (豉油皇炒麵).  The noodles turned out to be my 2nd favorite of the night, fried so well to leave little trace of grease on the plate.  The crunch from the bean sprouts and the fragrance from the toasted sesame seeds completed the delectability of this very quintessential Hong Kong staple.  

To end, everyone enjoys the house dessert of Chinese herbal jelly in a ginger-based syrup(薑汁涼粉).  Refreshing especially in the summer, this is a great way to cool down the system before braving the summer humidity.

Overall, an enjoyable experience.  Some dishes obviously better than others but worth at least one try.  Might be one of the better Dai Pai Dongs left on the HK island side, I'm told.

2/F Municipal Services Building
99 Java Road
North Point
Tel: +852-2880 5224

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