Pearl River Delta Trip Report Card Part 2

In case you didn’t know, there are two ways to travel between Guangzhou/Foshan and Hong Kong. The first is the most commonly used Hexiehao high speed rail service, while the other one is actually an older service called the MTR Intercity through train. The advantage of the latter is not having to disembark from the train for border crossing, as you clear the immigration before boarding and after disembarking from the train. You do have to pay almost triple the amount compared to Hexiehao, but you save quite a bit of time and hassle, especially during peak hours, and probably have better comfort and privacy.

We took the Hexiehao to Shenzhen, as the train station for the MTR Intercity was too far away (48km) from our location in Dongguan. The ticket price was 53.5 Yuan (vs 150 for the Intercity), and there was no seat allocation indicated on the ticket. Anyway, it was not peak hour, so there were plenty of seats available.

At Hung Hom station, we took advantage of the luggage storage service to store our luggage, since we couldn’t “check-in” to our friend’s place before she’s back from work. It cost a reasonable HKD 40 (S$7.30) to store each piece of luggage at the manned booth for the whole day, up to 10pm.

The planned lunch place was Ho Hung Kee at Hysan Place, Causeway Bay, the one Michelin star restaurant specializing in noodles and porridge. By the way, if you wanted to check recommendations on food for Hong Kong, use Openrice, NOT TripAdvisor. It helps if you can read the reviews written by the locals, in traditional Chinese characters. Otherwise, a 3.5 star and above rating is an indication that the food is probably pretty good.

The verdict for Ho Hung Kee: good, but not that good. You will find them at Terminal One of Hong Kong International Airport also, so there’s no real reason you need to come here, but anyway, you will have a decent meal here.

Wanton noodles, with very nice broth and springy noodles. Nothing special about the wanton though.
Wanton noodles, with very nice broth and springy noodles. Nothing special about the wanton though.
Silky smooth congee
Silky smooth congee, with a generous serving of pulled pork
Pan fried cheong fun with eggs. Looks fanciful but nothing special about it
Pan fried cheong fun with eggs. Looks fanciful but nothing very special about it.

Part 2 of lunch was at Cong Sao Star Dessert (聰嫂星級甜品). Cong Sao is conveniently located at Yiu Wa street, near Times Square, a 10 minutes walking distance from Hysan Place.

Mango Pomelo Sago with Tofu. I haven't had HK style dessert in a long time, but, honestly speaking, i haven't had dessert this good in a long long time.
Mango Pomelo Sago with Tofu. I haven’t had HK style dessert in a long time, and i haven’t had dessert this good in a long long time.
Walnut paste with back sesame. Good too, but i think the cold desserts are probably more satisfying.
Walnut paste with back sesame. Good too, but i think the cold desserts are probably more satisfying.
Double boiled pear with red dates. The weather was a little cold, and my kid was having cough, thus we ordered this traditional style dessert. I suggest choosing the more fanciful desserts.
Double boiled pear with red dates. The weather was a little cold, and my kid was having cough, thus we ordered this traditional style dessert. I suggest choosing the more fanciful desserts.

From Cong Sao, we walked to Canal Road West and hopped onto a tram to make our way to Kam Fung Cafe for afternoon tea. Yes, that’s three meals in a row, but it’s not too much food to stomach, trust me.

Kam Fung is the stereotype Hong Kong style tea restaurant – tiny shop lot with patrons crammed to the brim. They make all sorts of pastries in-house, in addition to offering the usual toast, sandwiches and noodles.

Milk tea and cupcake
Milk tea (hot and cold) and very fluffy cupcake. The quality of milk tea is quite consistent throughout Hong Kong, and i can’t pinpoint one being better than the rest. They’re all very good. I agree with my better half that the cold one is better, maybe because we’re so used to milk tea being thicker. The hot milk tea is dilute by South East Asian standard, but the amount of milk used is always just right, never overpowering.
Polo bun and egg tart. Both were awesome.
Polo bun and egg tart. Both were awesome. By the way, don’t you think the crispy crust atop the Polo bun look akin to the sides-shaved hairstyle that is so popular these days?
Egg tart again and chicken pie. The egg tart has very thin crust, which i think takes quite a bit of skill to make. The chicken pie crust is so so tender. Pity the filling is too sweet.
Egg tart again and chicken pie. The egg tart has very thin flaky crust, which me think takes quite a bit of skill to make. The chicken pie crust is so so tender! Pity the filling is too sweet.

The 3-hit-combo meals worked really well, and i think you should try doing this. Trust me, you will walk away feeling so accomplished for the day. Here is a map showing you how to do it.

Ho Hung Kee, Cong Sao Dessert and Kam Fung Cafe
Ho Hung Kee, Cong Sao Dessert and Kam Fung Cafe. Click to enlarge.

Dinner was a treat from a friend, and we sampled some of the most popular dishes in Hong Kong.

Fish maw (花胶), which can be very expensive
Fish maw (花胶), which is a rather expensive dish
Roasted goose. There is no better roasted goose found outside of Hong Kong, period.
Roasted goose. Hong Kong roasted goose is simply the best. Period.
Roasted pigeon. Practically non-existent outside Hong Kong.
Roasted pigeon. Practically non-existent outside Hong Kong.
Lobster with cheesy Ee Meen, a must-try Hong Kong signature dish
Lobster with cheesy Ee Meen, a must-try Hong Kong signature dish
Abalone sashimi, one of the best loved seafood in Hong Kong. I've not tasted such tender abalone.
Abalone sashimi, one of the best loved seafood in Hong Kong. I’ve not tasted such tender abalone.

In the five times we have visited Hong Kong, we hardly visited the New Territories, except for Sai Kung. This time round, i made it a point to visit Yuen Long and the surrounding region. There is good food in Yuen Long, and the day began with breakfast at Ho To Tai noodle shop.

Springy noodles without relying on the use of Kan Sui (Lye water). The broth is rather plain.
Springy noodles without relying on the use of Kan Sui (Lye water). I’ve never had such thin Kan Sui-less noodles before. The broth is rather plain unfortunately.
Beef briskey noodles. The beef is very tasty, and the broth is certainly better than that of the plain Wanton noodles.
Beef brisket noodles. The beef is very tasty, and the broth is certainly better than that of the plain Wanton noodles.
Ee Meen topped with paste (炸酱面). I guess every place has its own version of 炸酱面. I have tried those from Beijing, Korea, and now, from Hong Kong, and it's made of tomato paste. Certainly a very different interpretation. I am not impressed by the paste, but the Ee Meen is good!
Ee Meen topped with paste (炸酱面). I guess every place has its own version of 炸酱面. I have sampled those from Beijing, Korea, and now, from Hong Kong, and it’s made of tomato paste. Certainly a very different interpretation. I am not impressed by the paste, but the Ee Meen is good!
We added on dumpling in soup (净水饺) as we found the food to be pretty good here!
We added on dumpling in soup (净水饺) as we found the food to be pretty good here! The skin is made of fish.
Hang Heung cake shop is just a stone throw away. The fabled Wife's cake is indeed better than Wing Wah or Kee Wah.
Hang Heung cake shop is just a stone throw away from Ho To Tai. The fabled Wife’s cake is indeed better than those from Wing Wah or Kee Wah.

After breakfast, it was time for some sightseeing. I found out about the Ping Shan heritage trail from the discoverhongkong.com website and decided to check it out. As with the rest of Hong Kong, too little of the past is preserved (unfortunately, Singapore has the same problem). As we walked into the heritage trail, i was wondering if i was at the right place. The original village buildings have mostly been replaced by modern ones. Well, decades old modern buildings.

Seldom seen in Hong Kong.. a heritage building in the Ping Shan heritage trail.
Makes me wonder what is the point of having a balcony. I guess it maximizes the space that can be utilized. The alley separating the buildings is compulsory, but the building owners are free to extend the building with balconies over the alley.
An alley in the village. I was wondering what is the point of having a balcony that has absolutely no view, and may even present a security hazard. I guess it maximizes the space that can be utilized. The alley separating the buildings is probably a compulsory legal requirement (as with all buildings in Guangdong since ancient times), but the building owners are free to extend the building with balconies over the alley.
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The buildings are ugly for sure, but this is Hong Kong, truly.
A very lonely pagoda surrounded by towering buildings.
A very lonely pagoda surrounded by towering buildings.
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Some of the old buildings have been assimilated with the new. Old is prettier, don’t you think?

One of the suggestions on the discoverhongkong website for Yuen Long was to sample Poon Choi. The restaurant is conveniently located at the junction leading to the Ping Shan heritage trail. I have been wanting to sample authentic Poon Choi, the real thing, from where it originated, and finally it comes true! This was a major highlight of the entire trip.

When we arrived, i inquired about having Poon Choi. The person manning the shop had to check with the owner of the restaurant, because there were just the two of us adults, while normally they do Poon Choi only for 6 or more people. The owner agreed to prepare the Poon Choi for us on the basis that we were tourists (i have no idea if the restaurant owner was always willing to do this). Also, we were charged an unbelievably low fee of HKD 100 (S$18.30) per person. See photo below and you will know what i mean when i say it is ridiculously cheap for the portion of food given. We were the only ones dining there, understandably, as it was a weekday lunchtime. Anyway, apparently, Poon Choi is usually bring-home-to-eat, and this could be one of the few places that actually allow you to eat on-site.

We were shocked to see the quantity of the Poon Choi meant for 2. This can easily feed 6 people.
We were shocked to see the quantity of the Poon Choi meant for 2. This can easily feed 4 or more people.
Huge bowl of ginger and dried shrimp rice was also provided
Huge bowl of ginger and dried shrimp rice was part of the package
We stuffed ourselves to death and this was the best we could manage
We stuffed ourselves to death and this was the best we could manage

My original plan was to visit Ha Pak Nai or the Wetland Park, but the weather was simply not working in our favour, so we went to Lau Fau Shan main street, which was where i had originally planned to have dinner.

Lau Fau Shan main street is all about seafood. There are no less than 10 seafood restaurants here, plus shops selling fresh seafood and seafood related produce. We bought quite a bit of stuff here – fish maw, mushroom, dried shrimp roe, shrimp paste and of course, oyster sauce. You won’t find better quality oyster sauce elsewhere.

Seafood and produce shop
Lau Fau Shan main street is lined with seafood related produce shop
The only fresh seafood shop that was still open in the afternoon
The only fresh seafood shop that was still open in the afternoon
You must be wondering what the tubings are for. Those are for injecting water into the tanks.
An impressive display of tubings used for injecting oxygenized water into the tanks to keep the seafood alive. In terms of the insistence of eating live seafood (up to the point of cooking that is), Hong Kongers are only outdone by the Koreans in terms of the quantity consumed (ok this is purely my own speculation), but Hong Kongers are definitely second to none in their willingness to pay top dollars for exotic imported seafood.
View towards Shenzhen
View towards Shenzhen

Much as we were full from the Poon Choi meal, we had to have afternoon tea. Based on Openrice recommendation, i picked a popular cafe in Tsuen Wan – Gala Cafe. The most popular dish here seems to be omelette, and we ordered just that.

The claim to fame here seems to be the supersized portion, but there was really nothing very special about this omelette.
The claim to fame here is the supersized portion, but there was really nothing very special about this omelette.

For lack of a better idea of where to go before dinner, we went to Citygate Outlets at Tung Chung. We used to come here during each and every trip to Hong Kong, but this time round, we were not really looking to buy any clothing or shoes. My better half wanted to check out the place just in case there was something enticing, but we found nothing. Thankfully, it was not a wasted trip, as we managed to pick up some things from the supermarket at the basement level.

By the way, Citygate Outlet is one of those older malls with the stereotype design where mirror-like aluminium panels adorn walls and pillars. Thankfully, the newer malls have abandoned this old-fashioned design. In fact, i was very impressed with the newer malls, like Hysan Place. It goes to show that Hong Kong adapts very quickly.

Citygate Outlet
Citygate Outlet

Since the dinner at Lau Fau Shan didn’t work out, i relied on Openrice again to pick a dinner place, and i settled on Tai Chung Wah (大中华), a Dai Pai Dong (大排档) restaurant.

This would be my second time trying out a Dai Pai Dong, the first time being at Oi Man Sang (爱文生). Dai Pai Dong used to be “Al fresco” dining, where the stall and seating are set up on the streets. Probably for security and hygiene reasons, the Hong Kong government no longer endorses Dai Pai Dong, by not issuing new licenses. Tai Chung Wah has moved completely indoors, including their kitchen, whereas Oi Man Sang continues to operate outdoors partially.

Dai Pai Dongs are more suited to large groups because the portion of the dishes are quite large. The dishes are not cheap too, but the prices are commensurate with the portion.

Sauteed Chinese leek with shrimp (小炒王). Trying this just because it is a very popular dish in Hong Kong.
Sauteed Chinese leek with shrimp (小炒王). Trying this just because it is a very popular dish in Hong Kong. I found that leek from the Pearl River Delta to be more tasty than that from South East Asia. However, i can’t get used to the dried shrimp, which is rather tough. Hong Kongers like to chew on dried seafood. Dried cuttle fish is another example.
Sweet and sour pork (生炒骨) is quite different from those in Malaysia and Singapore. The meat is lean, and there is minimal use of batter. I had this dish at Oi Man Sang previously and i wasn't impressed. The meat was too tough. This time, however, the meat was tender enough, and there was much satisfactoin munching through each piece.
Sweet and sour pork (生炒骨) is quite different from those in Malaysia and Singapore. The meat is lean, and there is minimal use of batter. I had this dish at Oi Man Sang previously and i wasn’t impressed. The meat was too tough. This time, however, the meat was tender enough, and there was much satisfaction munching through each piece.

Moving on to the final day of my trip, we had breakfast at Australia Dairy Co. My better half has fond memories of this place, while i, on the other hand, have forgotten how the food tasted. Anyway, you know this place isn’t a tourist trap when locals throng it.

Scrambled eggs, the item everyone comes here for. It isn't exaggeration to say that it ranks among the best scrambled eggs in the world.
Scrambled eggs, the item everyone comes here for. It isn’t exaggeration to say that it ranks among the best scrambled eggs in the world.
We learnt our lesson from the last visit and ordered lots, especially an extra plate of scrambled eggs.
We learnt our lesson from the last visit and ordered lots, especially the extra plate of scrambled eggs!

Tsim Sha Tsui is a good place for strolling. We walked to Victoria harbour after breakfast, and continued all the way to Whampoa, where we met our friend for lunch. We did stop at Sogo to check if the sale items were worth buying. They were not.

Dim Sum, or more commonly called morning tea (早茶), was the final and unmissable food genre we haven’t had, yet. Lunch was another treat from our friend.

Char Siew. This particular version is quite different from what we have in South East Asia. It is tender throughout, and is not charred. I definitely prefer the Malaysian rendition, with the charred outer layer. The one from the Sunday stall at KL's Hee Lai Ton remains the one to beat.
Char Siew. This particular version is very different from what we have in South East Asia. It is tender throughout, and is not charred. I definitely prefer the Malaysian version, with the charred outer layer. The one from the Sunday stall at KL’s Hee Lai Ton restaurant remains the one to beat.
Clockwise from top right - beef balls, Har Kao and steamed red date layered cake. Cannot be faulted. The beef ball is not so common outside of Hong Kong, and it is good.
Clockwise from top right – beef balls, Har Kao and steamed red date layered cake. Cannot be faulted. The beef ball is not so common outside of Hong Kong, and it is good.
Special cheong fun. Good but no surprise.
Special cheong fun, with fritters and crispy bits wrapped inside. Good but no sense of surprise.
Fried meat and shrimp dumpling, or Ham Sui Gok in cantonese (咸水角). Very plump, and i think better than what we have in South East Asia.
Fried meat and shrimp dumpling, or Ham Sui Gok in Cantonese (咸水角). Very plump, and i think better than what we have in South East Asia.

Polo bun, or more specifically, Polo Yau (菠萝油 with a piece of butter inserted) is one of my favourite food from Hong Kong. I capitalized on every opportunity to grab hold of Polo Yau, and i happened to have the chance to stop by Mongkok before heading to the airport. Kam Wah cafe is said to serve the best Polo bun in Hong Kong, and they’re in Mongkok too. I have sampled their Polo bun two years ago, but, honestly speaking, i felt all the Polo bun i have tried were almost equally good. The Polo bun from Kam Wah is larger in size, and i felt that is actually not desirable, because you have less of the crispy topping (which is what makes the Polo bun taste so good) relative to the bread portion.

Anyway, i Googled and found Hong Lin to be the most convenient place for me to grab the Polo Yau that i so crave. No disappointment here.

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A dedicated takeaway counter at Hong Lin

Final meal before leaving Hong Kong – Hong Kong Delights at Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 2. They do serve a very wide range of Hong Kong style food, and i think it was worthwhile coming here, instead of opting for those eateries that serve only noodles and congee. This was actually the second time we had a meal here, and we didn’t come here because we remembered our previous meal. And i think i will remember this place henceforth.

Fried rice - nice Wok Hei
Fried rice – nice Wok Hei
Beef with Kai Lan. Prices are actually lower than at a Dai Pai Dong. You will have a decent meal here.
Beef with Kai Lan. Prices were actually lower than at a Dai Pai Dong.

As my trip came to an end, i felt surprised that i actually wanted to be back again! Yes, it’s the food, and slightly more. There are still more of those little corners that are worth discovering in Hong Kong. I have Tuen Mun, and Sai Kung in my radar.

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