Kam Wah Café (金華冰廳), Mongkok (HK Trip–2nd Day)

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(Hint: You’d have to read the shopsign backwards)

A visit to Hong Kong is never complete until you have eaten at one of their many ‘cha chaan teng’ which is deeply imbued in HK culture. When you mention the ubiquitous HK coffee shop, you’d immediately recall tall glasses of iced milk tea, macaroni with processed meat and the famous Pineapple bun. We had heard that Kam Wah (47, Bute Street, Mong Kok) serves some of the best latterly-mentioned buns. I’m not a fan of these delicacies as I don’t really have a sweet tooth but I’ve promised to wholeheartedly devote myself to HK culture since I’d be there for a week. Besides, in HK, you have to eat, eat and eat – so is there much alternative?

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We came from the Mong Kok MTR station (not to be confused with the Mong Kok East MTR station) and we saw rows of Filipina sitting on this overhead bridge, having a Sunday gathering of a kind. It’s not the kind of sight I’d like to see (and it’s not a pretty view either since the Pinay are either very ugly or are talking so loudly that it was irritating), but at least we know that Hong Kong also has its own set of immigration problems.

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Welcome to Goldfish Market. You will know that you’ve arrived near Kam Wah when you see this shop at the intersection.

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It’s pretty hard to find a place to sit if you arrive after 9 a.m., but we managed to find seating arrangements for five of us.

There, we were treated first hand to the infamous Hong Kong ‘cha chaan teng’ waiters’ culture – rudeness and brisk service without a smile. Understand though, that business is usually so good and they are so busy that they demand efficiency more than anything else, so there’s little that you could do to change that. Simple logic translates that good business = more money. 

You could, however, reduce the likelihood of them giving you rude service or them offering you a piece of their already frazzled mind by preparing what you wanted to order in advance (and only start placing your orders when you are really ready to do so), don’t stop to hesitate for too long, ask sensible questions, don’t block the pathways within the small restaurant (very important) and speak clearly.

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Anyway, here are the pictures of the food! You could see the famous Pineapple Bun at the top. It’s really nothing very special but it had a warm, homely feel to it. 

Next is the French toast:

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It was very nicely done. Both sides of the toast were fried to perfection.

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This is your regular egg, ham and sausage combo. Nothing to shout about the taste – the eggs are well done, sunny side up just the way I wanted it to be.

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This is luncheon meat with instant noodles. Quite how such a simple meal could gain such traction within ‘cha chaan teng’ culture is beyond me. As with the eggs described above, please don’t ask me to rate the taste ok. It’s supposed to be practical rather than aesthetical – you fill up your stomach, you pay for the meal and leave.

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Yes! We simply must have these egg tarts! They may not be the Portuguese version, but we are also eager to try these HK-made ones, all the same. These tarts are not overly sweet, and have a hint of milk with every bite. A most satisfying treat. In comparison, I found the Malaysian versions a tad too sweet, so this Kam Wah version takes the edge here until some worthy successor takes over.

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This is char siew bun. Imagine a regular Pineapple Bun enclosing a slab of roasted pork (char siew) with a dash of mayonnaise and some lettuce leaves. The sweet and savoury mix is something refreshing – I wouldn’t mind eating these things twice a week, if possible!

The meal wasn’t too costly – but you should expect to pay around HK$150 to HK$200 for a meal of five persons.

 

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