When it comes to eating when I'm away I'm a big fan of the Lonely Planet guides. In Peru it was pretty much the case that if we ate somewhere they recommended it was good and if we tried somewhere random it wasn't so good. Looking through the Hong Kong entries in the China guide this place was billed as being a bit off the beaten track but if you wanted the real Hong Kong experience you had to go. Well we did want a real Hong Kong exeprience so we hopped on the MRT and travelled a few stops to North Point, a locals' area that my HK resident friend said most expats would never make it too, let alone in their first three days.
The food we were after was sat on the third floor of a closed for the evening wet market and we stepped in to be confronted with a very raucous, entirely Asian crowd eating away, chatting loudly and playing dice. All along one wall was a number of kitchens and then masses of melamine tables stretching as far as the eye could see. It was a functional sort of place with all staff - whether washer uppers, waiters or chefs - donning white wellies, probably to ease the post-service hosing down. Luckily one of the places there had an English translation on the menu so they got our custom.
Whilst deciding what to order we were served a beer with bowls for drinking vessels which we loved, although I seemed to be the only person in there who liked it so much they photographed it. We also witnessed the ritual of the waitress washing our chopsticks and dipping bowls in front of us in green tea, something I'd heard of but not seen.
We decided upon noodles in black sauce, salted Chinese leek shoots, white gourd with preserved egg and minced pork and braised beancurd with bamboos and crispy pork. The noodles were a pretty plain affair, just thin egg noodles with the occasional bit of onion and cabbage, a welcome carb but nothing special.
The salted leek shoots sat amongst beansprouts, giving a lovely sweet leek flavour competing with not too subtle garlic.
One of the stars of the show was the white gourd with preserved egg and minced pork. The gourd was moist and refreshing, holding lots of liquid but remaining flavoursome. It sat in a rich broth, topped with both normal egg (separated into white and yolk) and the black and purple preserved egg, the minced pork adding welcome texture.
The braised beancurd with bamboos and crispy pork was fantastic. We got two types of beancurd, fried cubes and beancurd skin, Chinese mushrooms and cubes of crispy pork, rendered soft and gelatinous from the braising. A savoury gravy had enough starch to just cling to it all without being gloopy.
As if we weren't full enough (we ordered far too much) we were presented with a ginger soup for dessert. Heavy with ginger and very sweet it was full of cubes of something starchy, boiled till holding their shape, just, but melt in the mouth - it wasn't potato but may have been taro.
Aside the kitchen was a tank of live fish and shellfish including a pair of rather large grouper seemingly completely unaware of their purpose.
If ever you're in Hong Kong drag yourself the few stops east on the Island line of the MRT and experience something a bit local. It's well worth the trip.