Wednesday, October 30, 2013

[香港 HONG KONG] - 強記美食 Keung Kee - a taste of the streets through carbs

One cold evening right into the New Year, circa January 2013, the weather went from the late teens the day before, and plummeted to about 7 to 8 degrees C with a bit of a wind chill factor at night. Despite having two layers underneath and a Uniqlo jacket, there was something about that evening around 11 pm that warranted some immediate comfort and warmth. While not facing the waterfront directly like the Immigration Towers area, the wind blast penetrated into the Johnston Road area. Suddenly it seemed like all hope was lost....until I inadvertently stumbled upon an eatery I've been wanting to try for a while now.

As fate would have it, that eatery was indeed 強記美食 Keung Kee. It's quite legendary amongst lovers of true Hong Kong local food. They started off as a push cart vendor, and eventually moved to this indoor location. They keep slightly odd hours and reportedly can close at random without advanced warning. A very simple menu, with perhaps a bit more variety than they really need, but it works for them and everyone else.

強記美食 Keung Kee is also a prime example of just sticking with a set of basics, and doing them really well. No need to muck around or get complicated....their formula works, and the locals know it.

One glance and you know this is a must order. 腊味糯米飯 Chinese sausage stir fried glutinous rice.

Also don't walk away without trying pan fried cheung fun 煎腸粉

There's fish balls, pork rinds too if you need it.
The menu. Hot carbs, more carbs, odds & ends, and dessert soups.
Right off the bat, those two carbs were definitely in order. Hot sausage, hot glutinous rice, some pork fat, soy sauce flavor to combat the chill in the air.

It's hard to go wrong with 腊味糯米飯. Some customers have had the whole sausage (uncut) on top, but that night it looks like I had slices and some odds and ends. No matter....this was freakin toasty and delicious. There's something about eating off a nitty gritty green bowl, in a street environment facing a dirty alleyway, that was just back to basics. Sure the glutinous rice was not stir fried and not in a claypot (but steamed) and definitely not cooked to order, but this was done on such a high level that it was not funny.

The pan fried cheung fun 煎腸粉 is a prime example of taking something simple, even if not made from scratch in house (the cheung fun is outsourced), but the vendor takes care of grilling/pan frying it to create a crispy toasty effect (you can even smell the rice milk flavor)....and of course no plain cheung fun is complete without the right sauces. Here you have very basic sauces and sauce (seasoned), chili sauce, a little sesame oil, and a sweet sauce, with some sesame seeds. Not the sexiest looking thing in the world, but it was nothing but simple warmth and comfort. Something simple, yet there is nothing like it in California :-(.

This is one of those definitive Hong Kong experiences that sometimes cannot be easily explained to outsiders. It's not just the food, but also the attitude, the atmosphere, and the circumstances that lead you here.

強記美食 Keung Kee
G/F, Chuang's Enterprises Building, 382 Lockhart Road, Wanchai                                                     

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