Thursday, July 29, 2010

HK: I went out to look for dim sum, but found stinky tofu instead! Street food in Hong Kong

View from my hotel room, overlooking Kowloon Park
I really did not want to leave my comfy hotel room after we checked in. Look at the view from my window. That's Kowloon Park, so serene and peaceful amidst the heckling bustle of Tsim Sha Tsui. Just made me want to relax some more. But it seemed equally criminal not to make full use of our time exploring Hong Kong, and we had a few hours before dinner. Plus, I hadn't had lunch, although the delicious lychees from the hotel was fuel enough for the time being.

So off I went to look for Tim Ho Wan, the hole-in-the-wall dim sum joint with a one Michelin star rating. It's near Yau Ma Tei, just 3 MTR stops away. The hotel is just two blocks away from the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR, so travelling was really easy.

Mongkok / Yau Ma Tei vicinity
I got off at Yau Ma Tei station and walked according to the map.

But I could not find it! Hey, how difficult can it be? Just look for the swarming hordes and long queues outside that famous green-worded signboard. Right? If I can find all my eating locations in Japan despite their weird address system, I should be able to find this.

I got the right street, but was distracted by the gun shops
I certainly got the street right, but there was no busy dim sum joint. Were they closed? OK, to be honest, I was probably distracted by the gun replica shops opposite. Man, these look almost real!

Oh well. I was really tired anyway, so I gave up. And given the mixed reviews on Openrice, maybe not finding Tim Ho Wan was a blessing in disguise. *sniff*  So I tell myself.

I walked around looking for an alternative lunch, taking in the busy sights of Mongkok, when suddenly I was hit by a horrific stench. Oh man, did a rubbish truck overturn nearby? Or did something die hidden somewhere it could not be removed?

When I saw the culprit, I smiled and gave a sigh of relief. It's only stinky tofu! 臭豆腐
Big cubes of it, looking really crispy on the outside. You can ladle on as much garish-looking sauces as you want too.

I've had this before in Singapore, but it smelt different somehow (like diarrhoea). This one didn't seem so bad upclose, but I regret I wasn't brave enough to try it. Next time, I will.

All kinds of skewered snacks
There are lots of deep-fried snacks everywhere. Street food in Hong Kong does share some similarity with those in Singapore - we have the same skewered delights like deep-fried squid, sausages and cuttlefish balls. But they seem to have more variety and more exotic stuff. Lots more innards, pork parts, and the famous curry fish balls ("ka lei yu tan") that are so beloved here.

"Wo tip" pot stickers and what looks like takoyaki
The pot stickers or "guo tie" look really good - fat and juicy greasebombs! In the foreground, I think are some supersized takoyaki.

Mixed beef offal - a rolling boil
OK, there are some things that just can't be made photogenic, no matter how tasty they are. The mixed beef offal boiling furiously with whole oranges, for example. Looks like parts of Loch Ness having an onsen.

"Kai tan zai" or egg ball waffles
The one thing I did try was the "kai tan zai" or egg ball waffles. I got this (sesame and coconut flavour) from a popular stall at Granville Road that had lots of press clippings and a perpetual queue. Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. It's nice to pluck off the "eggs" and eat them.

That's it for street food in Hong Kong. After this, a famous Hong Kong steamed milk dessert and a really nice dinner. Stay tuned!


  1. LOL. I went to HK recently and my plan was to eat stinky tofu there. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to try it. Based on your description, I think I shall stay away. :-)

  2. You're not missing much... THW really isn't all that it's cracked up to be. It's decent dim sum, especially given the cheap price, but I'd rather pay more, eat in a comfortable setting, have A/C and not wait for hours...

    My dining experience right before Michelin came out:

  3. stinky tofu! 臭豆腐 from that chain store don't taste good. it is not stinky enough.

  4. i would love to try stinky tofu. didn't have that in Taipei, wonder what it tastes like.

    the egg ball waffle is such an IT thing, everyone is talking about that in HK!

  5. LL: hahaha! Come, come, next time in Singapore we can bring you to eat! Must try at least once in lifetime!

    Peech: Thanks, I agree too. But your photos of the dim sum still look great!

    MissyG: Wow, you recognise the chain store? I thought it was just a corner store. But yes, the stink was not as intense as some I've experienced. But if it's too stinky, I wouldn't bite into it!

    Pat: Taipei does not have stinky tofu!? I'm surprised. Some Taiwanese restaurants in Singapore do offer it.

  6. If you have space in your schedule and you're still looking for dimsum, you can try this place near Prince Edward station called One Dim Sum or 一點心. It was our favourite dim sum place (and near our hotel) on my grad trip to Hong Kong, so much that we went there three times in four days! The dimsum is generally good (some are just okay though), but it's worth going there just for their steamed mushroom and chicken rice, which was really good in our opinion. It's not very expensive either - it cost less than S$10 per head for our group of seven each time, and we definitely ate our fill!

  7. Try Ho Choi Chinese restaurant, they serve really good dim sum
    They have an outlets in Mongkok and Yau Ma Tei. =)

  8. Eerational: Yes, I know of One Dim Sum - it's featured in HKTB's celebrity endorsed eateries. Generally cheap and good. I did try dim sum eventually, but at a different restaurant.

    Witchz: Thanks, I'll keep that in mind.

  9. Camemberu hahaha i do i do... the best such eatery is actually at the end of the long street, that's the only place i will go for such stuffs.

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  11. Oops i pressed the wrong button.. Tim Ho Wan is actually right next to the gun shop. (No.2 Kwong wa st.) The sign is not obvious unless you can read chinese. I think the baked char siu buns and steamed rice flour rolls were fab, but the others were so-so. Must try when you visit again.

  12. I think you are quite close to it. It is next to a gun shop but not the one in your photo. You must try look for it next time you're in HK coz I find the char siu bao quite good, like the crust of polo bun. Though you didn't try it this time, you tried a lot of other yummy stuff! ^^ the way you describe 臭豆腐 is funny ... personally I thought the ones at Mongkok are not smelly enough, haha. The thing about 臭豆腐 is that I think it doesn't smell or taste so bad after you eat it. We like it so much that one night, we almost toyed with the idea of ta-baoing the 臭豆腐 back to hotel room for supper. Luckily we didn't ... sure get driven out by the hotel! :p


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