hong kong night market and back alley food
It's another Saturday, no wait, Sunday, no, ugh, not sure what night anymore and we are headed to downtown Hong Kong to check out the night market. Kind of a misnomer considering it runs 2pm-10pm everyday. Still, it was something I wanted to check out and after wandering through several blocks, the booths all started to look the same. It's one of those times when you look around and say "everythings made in China" and in this instance you'd be absolutely correct.
There were four of us on this prowl and we were getting hungry. The tricky party is trying to find something everyone can agree. A proposition made all the more difficult when you are in a city you know your way around. Behind the stalls and down side streets is where most of the restaurants lurked, so we made our way behind the scenes and decided to walk until we came across something.
It seemed all the types of Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine were represented along with Turkish and what they were calling "American". We wanted to find something looking at least a little local and that seemed like it wouldn't give us food poisoning--though that is always a crapshoot.
Eventually we stumbled upon a place that didn't look too crowded, had what seemed a mix of locals and others and who's menu we could decipher.
As you can see from the picture, their decorating style seems to be menu. As in their entire menu in large colorful pictures across EVERY wall. They had descriptions in Chinese and English and I will say it most definitely made it easy to choose and order. Kind of like a Denny's of Chinese food.
After perusing the walls, we settled on four different dishes to give a whirl to and kept our fingers crossed we made some good or at least decent choices.
First up was chicken and mushroom with Hong Kong style noodles. The style means the noodles were pan fried crispy with stuff on top. Truth be told, I knew what it was before I ordered it as you can get these kind of noodles in SF too. Sure it may seem like cheating, but then you never know what the chicken and mushroom part will be like. Fortunately, it was all good. Lots of crispy noodles and several different types of mushrooms in a basic brown sauce. In round about terms, what you see is what you taste on this one. Not really a lot of exciting flavors going on here. While I liked it, for me it needed a kick like black pepper or even Sriracha. Still, it was good way to start.
The lemon chicken was exactly what it said it was. Deep fried pieces of lemon covered in a lemon sauce. This was probably my least fave of what we got. The chicken pieces could have been fried a little bit crispier and then covering it in the citrus sauce made it more soggy. Plus the sauce was bitter to me. Maybe if the chicken had been cooked more and the sauce was on the side for dipping, I might have enjoyed it more. As is, not so much.
Again, a name that pretty much says it all. Sauteed chicken with cashews, green onion bits and red hot peppers. Now this had some kick to it, particularly if ate one of the peppers. They was hot! Still, as a whole, I think this is the one most all of us liked as we cleared this plate even before the other 2 we had gotten so far. Crunch, kick and flavor--worked for us.
Yep, that's right, the SO decided to order out of the box and picked the spicy frog legs. Deep fried frog legs and sauteed celery in a spicy garlic sauce. I've had frog legs before, though it has been awhile. I know the old saying "tastes like chicken" and for the frog, that is absolutely true. They were very lightly battered and deep fried in oil that must have been pretty fresh as they did not have a fishy flavor to them, something that can happen in Chinese restaurants. Crisp, juicy and tender. The seasoning was also nicely spicy and the celery was still crisp. This was a take a chance dish that worked out. While we all enjoyed it, I probably liked it more than the other folks did. I only wish there had been a few more legs to chow down on.
Each dish was cooked to order and they came out hot and steaming from the kitchen. All in all, this turned out to be a good choice as we pretty much liked what we had and it didn't break the bank either. Think it was around $40 or so total, including the 2 beers. In the end we can say we ate local, had some good food and didn't get sick from it. That's like a travelers triple play.
(Sadly, I don't know what the name of the place was as it only had the Chinese characters on the window and menu (see photo on main page). If anyone knows what it says please let me know in comments or email.)