April 17, 2022

A stroll around Sham Shui Po

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Not having traveled for more than 2 years and living with this pandemic means I haven't really gone on a food crawl during this time. Truth be told, it's also not something that I wanted to do when we're all still practicing social distancing and wearing masks outside. When a friend offered to take us around the neighborhood of Sham Shui Po (深水埗), Sankala and I happily took him up on the offer.

I did a little research based on the recommendations of Councillor Hung, and sent along a short list of places I'd like to hit today. My friend also reminded us that the area is now dotted with hipster cafés, so perhaps that would be one of our stops.

Our first stop of the day was Tomato C Hing (蕃茄師兄) - a place offering beef noodle soup with a tomato base. I'm not usually a fan of these, but I figured I'd go along since it was Sankala's request.

Real Gentleman (犇犇有禮) - this came with a trio of beef cuts from "local" steer (騸牯牛), which included beef cheek, boneless short rib (坑腩), and skirt steak (崩沙腩). There was a lot of beef, and these were all pretty thick cuts. This became a problem with the chunks of short rib, as it became a little difficult to chew thanks to the muscle fibers, even though the cuts were tender enough. The tomato broth was a real surprise, as the use of fresh tomatoes made the broth on the light side, while there was definitely enough savory and umami flavors to balance the sweetness and acidity. There was a choice of noodles, with an option to forgo carbs and have veg instead. I chose Shanghai-style noodles, but didn't finish the noodles in order to save room for the next stops.

We also ordered a side order of deep-fried cuttlefish and shrimp roll wrapped in tofu skin (鮮炸腐皮墨魚蝦條) as well as some chicken wings in mala Swiss sauce (麻香瑞士汁雞中翼). The latter was surprisingly spicy.

We walked around a little to explore the shops as well as the street stalls on Ap Liu Street (鴨寮街). There were stalls selling all kinds of wares, including old mobile phones, boomboxes, light bulbs and LEDs... etc. I somehow picked up a new remote control for my 10-year-old Sony Blueray player...

Our second food stop was Hop Yik Tai (合益泰小食), a place selling congee, fish balls, and famous for their steamed rice-flour rolls (腸粉). Thanks to the restrictions, the 3 of us were seated at separate tables.

Steamed rice-flour rolls (腸粉) - two of us got a large order of this, and I gotta say the texture was very slippery and smooth. I also added a piece of steamed Chiuchow-style dumplings (粉粿), which was pretty decent.

Fish balls (魚蛋) - not particular liking the flavors of either the fish balls themselves our the non-spicy sauce.

We strolled around the neighborhood a little more, checking out a couple of the hipster shops selling little trinkets which were cute but mostly useless. There was a surprising number of specialized leather shops in addition to the traditional cloth vendors.

Most of the hipster cafés were full, and one had an expected wait time of 2 hours for the next available table. We stumbled upon Cofflow and they happened to have seats available, so we decided to check out their offerings. We jokingly accused our friend of being a fake hipster (偽文青 ), because his hair is nowhere near long enough to be a real one...

Blackccino - this was meant to resemble a "black beer", and I can only assume they meant stout but did a literal translation from the Chinese 黑啤酒... Pretty decent.

While having our noodles at Tomato C Hing, we were looking at the pictures of food on the wall which showcased different dishes from different "yellow shops (黃店)". One picture of a sandwich caught my eye and I was definitely drooling a little. As it was on our way as we walked towards our friend's home after our coffee, I asked to make a stop to pick up the sandwich to go.

Lee Hou Fuk Fast Food Shop (利口福快餐店) is a hole-in-the-wall on the corner of a building, with a few tables laid out in the dark alley next to it. The menu looked absolutely incredible, with a bunch of options that sounded mouthwatering and extremely sinful and fattening. I placed an order for the one item I came for, and patiently waited for the cook to sequentially send out all the items that other customers had ordered before mine - all the while getting hungrier as I took in the smells that came out from the tiny kitchen.

Jumbo satay beef sandwich (珍寶沙爹牛肉包) - BABY, THIS IS WHAT YOU CAME FOR! Even after being in the cardboard box and wrapped in a plastic bag for some 15 minutes, this was still really, really delicious. The satay sauce was a little sweeter than I had expected, but still sinfully good. I only wish I had more stomach room and didn't need to split this with my friend.

I was really full by now, but pretty happy with our little adventure in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Can't wait to do it again!

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