Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hong Kong Eats: Cheap eats (food, HKFall10)

This post isn't really about any particularly special cheap eats, but rather to show that there's good cheap food around where I live in Hong Kong and that I had regular everyday meals and didn't just go to specialty places. All of the places mentioned here are on Belcher Street, and because this area is a little older and not directly on an MTR line, stuff is naturally cheaper here.

First up is Fukuda Yakiniku (福田日本烤肉店), one of those Japanese Korean BBQ places. The set lunch is really cheap, priced at HKD$38(=USD$5) for certain main course meats and HKD$48(=USD$6.5) for more expensive meats. The set lunch includes side dishes, rice, soup, and jello for dessert.

A good selection of side dishes to start, and the grill where we would grill our own meat selections.

On this day we had deboned short ribs and marinated pork neck tenders. Again, the flavors and meats aren't going to blow your mind, but everything is more than serviceable for the price.

For something that has more of a Hong Kong feel to it, there's noodle soup (粉麵). Our preferred place to go was Boat Dweller Fish Balls (水上人魚蛋粉). Again, this is pretty common stuff in Hong Kong.

Assorted meatballs over ho fun (四寶河) had fishballs, beef meatball, fish skin dumpling, and fried fish cake pieces. I thought their stuff was definitely better than average, and the average price for a bowl of noodles like this was about USD$2-3.

In addition to fish balls, they also have serviceable brisket. I think this type of "brisket" (坑腩) is closer to short ribs than what we would normally call brisket, but either way was beefy and tender as expected.

My favorite thing there was the fried fish skin, which is definitely something I haven't been able to find in the US. Fried crisp and greaseless, these are like really addictive fish-flavored chips.

Last but not least is the corner congee shop (卓記粥店). So old school it has no English name, and no doors for that matter.

Huge hunks of turnip cake are fried fresh in the morning, at HKD$4(=USD$.50) per piece.

Stir-fried thin noodles in soy sauce is a common part of a traditional Chinese breakfast. This plate also cost HKD$4(=USD$.50) and is simple but tasty.

Another very popular Hong Kong breakfast item is fried crueller wrapped in steamed rice paper (炸兩). Fried crueller is essentially fried dough, often served with congee. Even though they don't wrap it till you order it, the crueller was not as crispy as I would have liked, which probably meant that they weren't freshly fried by the time I got there. But who cares, this plate cost HKD$6(=USD$.80).

My favorite congee is preserved egg with pork (皮蛋瘦肉粥), and their version is pretty good, with a nice congee base. Before 5pm, it comes at the discounted price of HKD$10(=USD$1.5).

***If you are squeamish do not read this last part***

For decent quality food, this place is ridiculously cheap even by Hong Kong standards. So what's the catch? Well, let's just say you probably wouldn't want to see the vats in which they cook and transport the congee. Also, on my third and last visit of my trip, a waterbug crawled onto my elbow (probably came across the wall from the outside, as there are no doors there). After violently shaking it off, I actually finished eating. Normally I'm pretty squeamish when it comes to these things, but given where I was, it wasn't particularly surprising and I was just unlucky. Not to mention the woman who worked there laughed as if to say, "What's there to be scared of?"