G/F, 1 Whampoa Street, Hung Hom
I’ve never really been a fan of Hung Hom, particularly the MTR station and its exits which never seem to lead anywhere in particular, surrounded by all sorts of public transportation that never seem to offer a way to the places I want to go! Countless a time I’ve exited B1 or B2 and just walked around in circles before ending up at the same exit. I don’t know whether it’s just me and my poor sense of direction but I’ve always had such a problem getting around there. It also reminds me more of China than Hong Kong, so I just end up feeling more lost than ever.
Pair this with the fact my only real memories of Hung Hom have been of me and friends lugging our typical white kid sports equipment after school to some field hockey match at King’s Park, when all I really wanted to do after a shit day at school was to buy some McD’s, have a fag and pass out in the comfort of my much-loved but consistently neglected bed. God, I don’t miss high school, and I never missed those trips to Hung Hom.
So imagine my excitement when a friend of mine said that we’d be meeting there for our next foodie mission.
I tried to swallow all my initial fears and prejudices towards the place when I was told that this was the place to go for some authentic, good Sichuan in Hong Kong – if we could find it. Apparently, the place closes for a couple weeks every month so that the owner can go to Sichuan to get all the spices, so my friend had to check to make sure it was open before we legged it. But how legit is that? We’re talking all those crazy Sichuan peppercorns, the pickled chilis, pastes, fermented black beans. To be fair, I’ve only ever passed through Sichuan province on a 36 hour train-ride so I’m not even sure what real Sichuan food is meant to taste like, other than ridiculously mouth-numbing; mind-numbing even, to the point that your brain can’t even deduce between pain and pleasure, and releases a confused brand of endorphins into your bloodstream so you feel this kind of tortured euphoria. What a fucking high.
I was in Guangxi province once and I remember we had some backpackers from Chengdu who kept on complaining about how mild the food was there. I thought they were just being cocky, but when you see the film of chili oil on every fucking Sichuanese dish, piled with even more roughly cut pickled chili, I suppose one’s entitled to that kind of food-bashing…
聯記川王涼粉 doesn’t serve the spiciest of Sichuanese, but I tell you now: this place is a must for finding that simple kind of Sichuan delicious. It’ll have none of this commercial, pretentious crap; what you see is what you get here, in humble styrofoam boxes or bowls, on a few metal tables with two or three plastic stools. You grab your pair of wooden chopsticks from the communal pot and provide your own pack of tissues, and get stuck into the mess illuminated by those dingy white fluorescent lamps in the great Hong Kong jungle. This, is food.
The cold noodles (川北涼粉) weren’t too bad but I was expecting a little more from a place that claims to the best Sichuanese in HK. The chili oil definitely came through when paired with a medium like chilled noodles but my friends and I couldn’t place the type of noodles (it seemed far too starchy to be rice noodles, but the colour and texture weren’t like potato or wheat), and I didn’t get as much of a bang as I had hoped from the heat.
The beef soup noodles (水煮牛肉) did not disappoint. I was so happy. If you make it over here and (for some godforsaken reason) only order one thing: make it this. The beef was tender, the chili delicious, and the noodles soft and complemented all the flavours perfectly. And just look at that oil!
Next on our menu was the preserved egg (川椒皮蛋), but it wasn’t the typical 皮蛋 that’s usually black in color – the jelly was much more translucent, but still had the nice jelly-texture, and tasted really nice with the chili oil, coriander, spring onions and various other spices. This was actually one of our favourites out of all this dishes we ordered, mainly cos it was so simple but packed a punch.
The pig’s ear cartilage with beansprouts. The pig’s ear was well done, not overcooked so it still retained that crunchy consistency, with the beansprouts and chili – it was simple and delicious, a recurring theme that night.
Hot and Sour potato shreds (醋溜土豆絲). I’m not going to comment much on this, as I tried to recreate a dish similar to it last night – so I’ll save it for that blog post. I will say, however, having attempted this myself at home, that the potato shreds had a really good texture, and the flavour wasn’t so overwhelming that it could be eaten with the other dishes as a good side.
The winner of this night out though was hands-down the pork, with a ton of garlic (蒜泥白肉). There are some days (most days) when I’m really happy I’m single: I can eat as much as I want, and as much of what I want with as much garlic as I want – this was the epitome of that wonderful reality. The pork was thinly sliced, so all that chili and garlic just permeated the lean meat and slither of fat on its side. Because it was so thinly sliced, the fat melted on your tongue with the chili oils and garlic gently caressing its journey from your tongue to swallow. It was a dream within a dream within a dream. It was Christopher Nolan’s muse. It was…. fucking delicious.
And on that note,
(Big thanks to Alison Cheng for translating all the dishes for me.)