We had a great start to our day, first by avoiding extreme surcharges on our Uber by waiting merely a few minutes, then bypassing a long line up at the airline’s bag drop counter due to our attempt to travel carry-on only. It was a smooth ride to Toronto’s airport only to find that the chaos has begun. Our flight to Hong Kong was overbooked. There was a sea of people all standing in front of the gate hoping to be the first to get on the plane (perhaps so they will not be forced to part with their carry-on luggage in case all the overhead compartment space is full). This reminded me of a sort of prisoner’s dilemma, where everyone is better off cooperating to sit, relax and agree not to line up, so everyone is not forced to stand for prolonged periods of time, but I digress.
After much delay, we were finally on our way to Hong Kong! I come to realize that I love travelling but plane rides are really not the most enjoyable part. I remember once upon a time when I thought flying was such an exciting experience. Now it’s just a hurdle to jump over to get my destination. After 15+ hours of cramped seating, dry air causing my eczema to flare up, having not the most comfortable stomach and modest tasting meals, we land in HKIA. The journey to our hotel was quite smooth, since we made use of the Airport Express Train as well as their free shuttle service. We quickly notice that everything is skinny here, from the bus seats, to the buildings, to the elevators. I guess this is how an overpopulated city has to be designed. After quickly settling in, we needed a game plan to make the most out of our short layover in this vibrant city.
First priority – Kau Kee Restaurant 九記牛腩. We strategically booked a hotel within a 6 minutes walk to the restaurant. As expected, there was already a long line down the street but we were prepared. People watching was fun as some people in front of us called someone from the restaurant to be given VIP service (i.e. skipped the line and was given a table right away). It was also interesting to see how some brought their luggages, showing that they had the same priority as us. The line moved quite quickly and within 30 minutes, we were seated with 2 other parties. We ordered the original beef brisket in clear broth as well as the curry tendon brisket noodle, as recommended by Mark Weins. We chose the e-fu noodles with the original and the thick noodles with the curry. Of course I had to try the HK milk tea since there was an article posted outside their store about it. I ordered completely in Cantonese so I cannot comment on their English proficiency there. Our meal arrived in no time. The portion size was on the smaller side, but that’s compared to North American standards. We were the only ones at our table to order the curry but the other 2 parties decided to order an extra bowl of that after ours arrived. I would like to believe it was because they saw how much we enjoyed our noodles. The clear broth brisket was lighter and paired well with the e-fu noodles. The beef brisket was flavourful but a little on the chewy side. Then there was the curry. It was definitely spicier than I expected but the iced milk tea helped. It was very tasty and the tendon would just melt in my mouth. The brisket was more tender as well compared to the original beef brisket. The noodles perfectly soaked up the taste of the curry soup, which was thicker than expected and acted more like a sauce. The curry was a clear winner for us.
After some wandering around in Sheung Wan and Central, we decided to head to our next food destination, Yat Lok restaurant 一樂燒鵝. To my disappointment, after 15+ hours of flying and with major jet lag, I could not see myself stomaching half a roast goose, even with Aaron’s help. We decided to return tomorrow to make the most out of our experience there.
The night scene is quite interesting in Central. Surrounding us was more affordable restaurants like the ones mentioned above, fancy, more upscale restaurants and cocktail bars, small boutiques still open late into the evening and of course with Lan Kwai Fong being THE hot spot for night life. The restaurant options are interestingly varied – from local Hong Kong food to Lebanese, American, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai food. I felt like I was back in Canada again but with even more options. We took the Mid-levels Escalators and Walkway, which was supposed to be the longest covered outdoor escalator in the world. We decided to walk back down eventually when we realized we didn’t know how far this would go and where we would actually end up.
To end the night, was stopped at The Woods, a cocktail bar. Their cocktails were definitely on the pricier side and were unique; however, it was not mind blowing enough to justify the fact that one cocktail was the price of our entire meal at Kau Kee.
Overall, nice evening in Hong Kong. I was quite disappointed, however, that I was not able to fit in 2-3 meals tonight as I originally planned but maybe I was being too ambitious. Hoping tomorrow will be a more fruitful food day!