Pray for good weather

View from the hotel room

You can just make out the reflection of the hotel room’s curtains

Sayang and I woke up at 9+am. We looked out of the window and were happy to see that we had a lovely view of the city as promised by the hotel. Sayang was a bit worried last night that we would see the refuse collection point outside our window. Although our room was facing the refuse collection point, we were so high up that it was only noticeable when we looked down. The weather looked bright and sunny, which was just what we wanted.

Our hotel stay did not include breakfast but it was no big deal for me as I do not have a habit of eating breakfast. We left the hotel after 10am for an early lunch instead. We had arranged to meet Redhead for lunch at 九記牛腩 (Kau Kee Restaurant) at 11:30am, hoping to beat the lunch crowd. We had just stepped out of the Sheung Wan MTR station when we received a call from Redhead. She had already reached Kau Kee and told us that the restaurant only opened for business at 12:30pm!

We were surprised as we did not anticipate this. Both of us just assumed that the shop would be opened (for us). There was a mild moment of panic as I searched through the list of food places that we had marked out. Luckily there was one nearby – 生記粥品專家 (Sang Kee Congee Shop). We arranged to meet Redhead at the MTR station as she did not know the location of the restaurant. After collecting Redhead, we made our way to Sang Kee. The area was full of closely packed tall buildings which bounced the signals around, making the GPS inaccurate. We had to backtrack a little but in the end we found the restaurant. It was only a short walk but it was a hot day so we were all perspiring by the time we reached. Sayang passed Redhead a piece of tissue to wipe off her sweat.

We entered the first Sang Kee shop we saw and it turned out to be the wrong one. When Redhead told the staff that we were looking for the congee shop, we were told that it was further down the street, just round the corner. This was when we realized that there were a few shops with the name Sang Kee along the same street. We reached the congee shop and there was a big sign at the entrance listing all the different congees. The congees could basically be separated into three types; those with only one type of ingredient, those with two types and those with three types. There ingredients were varied and available in different combinations.

We were told that there were no seats left in the congee shop and we were directed to find a table at the shop next door which was called 生記清湯牛腩麵 (Sang Kee Clear Soup and Beef Brisket Noodles). Probably belonged to the same owner.

Drinks

Sayang and I ordered iced yin yang (mixture of milk coffee and tea) while Redhead had a watercress honey drink. It was just watercress juice mixed with honey. Since Sayang and I had not tried it before, Redhead let us take a sip. It was sweet because of the honey but there was also the distinctive watercress flavor. I could not decide whether I liked this drink or not. I drank watercress soup before but to have it in the form of a sweet drink felt weird.

Pork liver and chicken congee

Redhead had the pork liver and chicken congee. She asked me to try the pork liver. The liver came in large thin slices and was surprisingly good. It was tender and had a faint taste of ginger. Best of all, it was not powdery, unlike those served in Singapore. I was amazed and puzzled at the difference. I mean, livers are probably the same for all pigs so why were the Singapore pork livers gray and powdery?

Fishball and pork congee

I had congee with fishballs, porkballs and pork slices. I don’t normally eat fishballs but the fishballs here looked like they were handmade. They were grayish misshapen lumps  speckled with the green of spring onions, quite different from the pure white commercial fishballs. Unlike the floury commercial versions, these fishballs tasted of mashed up fish meat.

Even though all of us ordered small bowls, the shop was so generous with the ingredients that it seemed as if there was a neverending supply of fishballs, chicken, pork and livers in our congees.

Pan-fried fishcakes

We also tried the pan-fried fishcakes which seemed to be made of the same type of mashed fish meat used in the fishballs. I thought it would be crispy but it was soft and rather oily. The fish meat tasted better as fishballs.

After lunch, we walked with Redhead back to her office. She brought us to a bakery called 奇華餅家 (Kee Wah Bakery). She said that this bakery came out with an egg custard mooncake which was very nice. The mooncakes were baked daily and we tried some fresh samples. The mooncakes were really nice. They were sweet but not too sweet. Since the mooncakes were baked daily, Sayang and I decided to buy them on our last day in Hong Kong. We found out from the staff that the egg custard mooncakes were only available at this outlet.

After we said goodbye to Redhead, we continued walking towards the Central Piers to take a ferry to 長洲 (Cheung Chau). It was raining heavily when we reached and we received a somewhat frantic message from Redhead who told us that Hong Kong had just issued the amber thunderstorm alert. She warned us to stay put in Hong Kong for the rest of the day. It’s quite a bummer and we had to find something else to occupy the day. But one could not control the weather so one could only make do the best he can.

At least this rain gave Sayang an opportunity to go shopping. We went to the H&M store that was in Central and spent a couple of hours inside looking at clothes. Or to be more accurate, Sayang spent hours looking at clothes while I played Pocket Planes on my phone. After trying on some clothes, Sayang made me try wearing some H&M hats, including a beanie with the face of a seal on it. I took a photo of myself with my phone and sent it to Redhead. She laughed madly and sounded really glad that she was not shopping with us.

H&M store at Central was a few floors tall. But even though the store was big and we went to every floor twice, we could not stay there indefinitely. Finally Sayang paid for her clothes and we left.

After leaving H&M, we walked aimlessly around Central and spotted a Goods of Desire outlet. We went in to take a look. The shop sold a range of products, from clothing to furniture. Most of them were quite expensive but they were interesting to look at. Some of the designs were quirky while some had a local twist to it. We spotted a special mooncake being sold at the shop. We laughed over it and then eagerly decided to buy this for Redhead. It was one of those gifts that amused the giver more than the recipient.

Lan Fong Yuen

Shopping was tiring work. So we went to 蘭芳園 (Lan Fong Yuen) for tea. One could see the Lan Fong Yuen stall from the street but it was not obvious that there was a sitting area right behind it. The sitting area was very rustic and small. We had to share a table with other people but Hong Kong residents were used to it. They pretty much ignored us and continued eating their own food.

We had the milk tea which Lan Fong Yuen is famous for, only that we decided to get the cold version as we were feeling hot from the walk. The tea was milky and smooth.

French toast

Sayang ordered a french toast which was two slices of bread coated in batter and deep fried. In between the slices was some custard jam. The bread was nice and crispy and the custard added some sweetness.

Pork chop bun

We also shared Lan Fong Yuen’s famous pork chop bun. It was a simple burger with deep fried pork, a slice of tomato and mayonnaise sandwiched between a sesame seed bun. The pork was well marinated so it was tender and flavorful. The bun was not big so I could probably eat two of these in one sitting if I’m really hungry.

Lit Shing Kung

Having refueled ourselves, we continued walking, passing by a stretch of antique shops before reaching a temple. It was drizzling again and we decided to visit the temple and pray for good weather. The compound housed two buildings. We went to the temple on the right first. It was called 列聖宫 (Lit Shing Kung) and was small and somewhat smoky due to the incense.

Sayang and I decided to buy some joss sticks from the man at the entrance so that we could pray. There were many kinds of joss sticks and we picked two packs of three joss sticks for HK$6 each. When we tried to pay the man tending the stall, we were told to drop the money into the donation box. We thought that it was rather expensive for six joss sticks. Then we opened the wrapper and discovered that the joss sticks were bigger than normal joss sticks.

Lit Shing Kung

We lighted the joss sticks and prayed to the deity in the temple, holding the joss sticks and bowing three times. While I did that, I sincerely asked for good weather for the rest of the trip. Since I don’t go to temples all that often, I don’t have a lot of credit with the gods so I thought it was better to ask for something simple. Then we placed our joss sticks in the pot. They towered over the other normal joss sticks and it was obvious which ones were ours.

Then we turned around and Sayang discovered that my backpack was covered in white powder. The ash from the mosquito-coil-like-incense that were hanging from the ceiling had dropped onto my bag. We tried to dust as much of it off as possible. Then we went to 文武廟 (Man Mo Temple) on the left. It was a bigger temple and there were three altars. We found an opened pack of normal joss sticks placed on a side table. Sayang counted out 24 sticks. She passed me half and we went around the temple and prayed at the three altars. Before we leave the temple, we dropped some coins into the donation box to pay for the joss sticks.

Peach flower kiosk

Next to the temple, there was a peach flower kiosk of sorts which seemed to be only available for this period. There were stalks of plastic peach blossom flowers adorned with pink slips written with people’s names. I supposed this was meant for people to pray for romance. We asked Redhead if she would like us to add her name and Redhead rolled her eyes at us. I guessed it’s a no.

It was evening and the sky was getting dark. We decided to go for an early dinner at 堂記腸粉專門店 (Tong Kee Steam Vermicelli Roll Specialise). It was located in Kowloon and it was a bit of a trouble to get there. The nearest MTR station was Austin but it meant that we would need to change trains twice. So we decided to get off at Jordan Station and walk. It was doable as Tong Kee was about 700m from Jordan Station.

T-shirts

Near Jordan Station, Sayang found a small shop which sold t-shirts. Both of us bought some clothes at the shop. I bought three t-shirts for myself and one for my brother. My t-shirts were selling at three for HK$100 so it was a pretty good deal. Sayang chatted with two ladies who were the owners of the shop. They were curious and asked to see what our currency looked like. Luckily I had some dollar notes with me and I showed them. The owners asked about the person who was printed on all the dollar notes and we told them that it was our first president.

“Oh, where is he now?” they asked.

“Dead,” I replied and we all chuckled.

After we paid for our purchases, we said goodbye to the two ladies and continued walking towards Tong Kee. We followed the main road, Jordan Road, which was lined with shops on both sides. Tong Kee was located in a housing estate which could not be seen from the main road. Compared to the brightly lit busy road that we walked along, the housing estate seemed dimly lit and quiet. Although there were other eateries in the area, traffic was not high. Tong Kee was a small, simple-looking shape and easy to miss. It also had a simple menu; several types of rice rolls and two types of congee.

We reached Tong Kee a little after 7pm. There were not many customers so we were given a table in the shop. We ordered both types of congee so that Sayang could have a taste. I had tasted both congee on my previous trip and thought they were quite nice. But of course the rice rolls were the biggest draw for me.

Dried vegetable with pork bone congee

The 菜乾豬骨粥 (dried vegetable with pork bone congee) was thinner than normal congee. There were still bits of broken rice in it. There was a big piece of pork bone in the bowl but since there was almost no meat on it, I guess this was to show the customers that real pork bone was used. This was the more savory of the two congees.

Dried fish and peanut congee

There was a faint taste of orange peel in the 柴魚花生粥 (dried fish and peanut congee). Like the other congee, this was thinner than normal congee. There were a lot of peanuts which gave the congee a nutty flavor.

I like rice rolls and I have eaten a lot of them. So it is no small matter when I say that this place serves the best rice rolls I have ever eaten. It was not so much about the filling although they do have some interesting options. It was more about the silky smooth rice sheets which were handmade by the owner. Each sheet had a lovely sheen. Even though the sheets were thin, they still had a little spring in them. All the rice rolls came on a plate with some sweetened soy sauce.

Char siew vermicelli roll

First we had the char siew rice roll. Normally I don’t think highly of char siew in rice rolls but this tasted quite nice. The char siew was tender and not dry.

Roast duck vermicelli roll

My favorite was the roast duck rice roll. There were lots of duck meat and some crispy skin. It was flavorful but not overly oily.

Prawn vermicelli roll

When I am in Singapore, my favorite is the prawn vermicelli roll. However, I felt that the prawn roll here was not as nice as the roast duck and char siew rolls. There was nothing wrong with it; the prawns were fresh and the sheets were as smooth and springy as the other dishes. But compared to the rest, it felt a little bland.

It started to pour heavily again when we were almost halfway through our dinner. The rain resulted in less customers but we still saw some brave souls who came by in their cars to order takeaway. We were not affected because we were sitting inside the shop but the outside tables were not sheltered. It was still pouring when we finished our food but we decided to leave so that other people could have the table.

We walked back towards Jordan Station. We had our own umbrellas but the rain was so heavy that my berms were wet and my backpack was soaked. At least the rain washed off the incense ash. Now that our tummies were filled, Sayang decided to stop by a shop to look at clothes. My clothes were rather wet and the shop’s aircon made it rather chilly. I decided to stand outside and wait for Sayang instead. I noticed with some amusement that a guy was also standing outside the shop, probably waiting for his girlfriend.

There was a dessert shop called 澳洲牛奶公司 (Australia Dairy Company) which was recommended by Flea. It was located near Jordan Station so we decided to drop by there for dessert instead of Sayang’s favorite Hui Lao Shan. Despite the very angmo-sounding name, this place served traditional Hong Kong desserts.

After we sat down, I realized that I had forgotten what desserts Flea recommended. We looked at the menu that was pasted on the wall and decided to just randomly pick some. Our orders were taken by a stern old man. The rest of the staff also seemed rather unfriendly. The table next to us called one of the waiters over to inform him about a problem with one of the dishes. The waiter immediately went on the defensive and replied curtly and loudly that he will get the customer a replacement. To which the customer replied calmly that he didn’t want a replacement; he just wanted to let the waiter know about the problem so that it would not happen again.

Red cap fresh milk

I ordered something on the menu that said red cap fresh milk and it turned out to be a normal bottle of fresh milk from The Kowloon Dairy. Most likely “red cap” was the name of the brand. There was a strong milk flavor which I thought not many people would like. Although it was just a normal bottle of milk, it seemed that the shop sells many of them as the display in the window showed rows of such bottles.

Steamed egg white milk pudding

We also ordered the 蛋白燉鲜牛奶 (steamed egg white milk pudding) which was one of the things that the shop was famous for. There was also an almond version but both of us did not fancy almond so we did not order that. The pudding was soft and milky, quite nice.

Iced milk with red beans and lotus seeds

Our last dessert was a mistake. We ordered iced yin yang but we got a cup of milk with red beans and lotus seeds. It was icy cold and sweet. It tasted quite nice so we did not bother to change it. There were an abundance of red beans and lotus seeds in the drink and after a while, I felt quite full from eating them.

The rain had lightened to a drizzle when we left Australia Dairy Company. Due to the bad weather, we decided to call it a day and returned to our hotel before 10pm. It continued raining through the night and we could hear the sound of thunder.

“It sounded really bad,” said Sayang. “I hoped the weather would be better tomorrow.”

“Maybe it will rain so hard that there won’t be any more rain tomorrow,” I replied.

“I hope so,” Sayang said but she still looked rather worried.

“You must have faith in the gods you prayed to otherwise they will be offended.”

Then we turned on the TV and saw that the local news had upgraded the amber thunderstorm warning to red. This did not look good. We decided that we would wake up early tomorrow and check the weather forecast. If the weather was bad, we would go back to sleep and leave the hotel later.

Places we ate today

生記粥品專家 (Sang Kee Congee Shop)
Address: G/F, 7-9 Burd Street, Sheung Wan
Tel: +852-25411099
Opening hours: 6:30am – 9pm (Mon – Sat); 6:30am – 6pm (Public Holiday)
Nearest MTR Station: Sheung Wan

蘭芳園 (Lan Fong Yuen)
Address: 2 Gage Street, Central
Tel: +852-25443895
Opening hours: 7am – 6pm (Mon – Sat)
Nearest MTR Station: Between Central and Sheung Wan

堂記腸粉專門店 (Tong Kee Steam Vermicelli Roll Specialise)
Address: Shop C, G/F, Man King Building, 26 Man Wui Street, Ferry Street, Jordan
Tel: +852-27107950
Opening hours: 7pm – 2:30am (Mon, Tue, Thu – Sat)
Nearest MTR station: Austin

澳洲牛奶公司 (Australia Dairy Company)
Address: G/F, 47-49 Parkes Street, Jordan
Tel: +852-27301356
Opening hours: 7:30am – 11pm (Mon – Wed, Fri – Sun)
Nearest MTR station: Jordan

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