Friday, November 1, 2013

[香港 HONG KONG] - 澳洲牛奶公司 Australia Dairy Company - a model of efficiency

I have no idea why I decided to check this place out. Perhaps as the years go by, the desire for adventure and trying something at least once finally won over sticking with tried and true never failing places (or attempts for that matter) at anything.

This is one of those you either love it or don't care for it type places. 澳洲牛奶公司  or Australia Dairy Company...and you can even abbreviate it to
澳牛 like the locals do, yet it comes highly recommended by guide books published in Chinese and English for reasons still not fully understood by me (if it were for the food).

Love the bald dude's "WTF" expression when he addresses the employee, look at the line
The above picture was taken after I had finished my meal. I think it was around 10 am, maybe my 2nd to last day before departing Hong Kong. If you avoid the rush hour (e.g. lunch) then you might luck out with a much shorter wait. Either way, this is one of the most efficient restaurants in Hong Kong, and perhaps the reason why they can go through multiple rotations of tables and customer volume in one day. It does help once you know how and what to order ahead of time.

They use local whole milk here from Kowloon Dairy
The eatery specializes in a few things...mostly milk and egg based type eats, but it's primarily some sort of pasta with chicken soup (canned no doubt), with ham or pork, scrambled egg sandwiches, and steamed egg or milk custard (hot or cold).  There are set meals around those which offer better value than a la carte, but it depends on your fancy.
Steamed milk custard, cold or reheated/steamed hot
And you can kind of see the steamed egg custards from the outside window while waiting in line
So once you sit down, it doesn't take much time for an employee to come take your order. If you need a little more time, just polite say you need another minute, and you can flag them down again.
Never a dull moment in here. No waitstaff stands or sits idle. Worker bees in white
A few choices for set menus, prices circa January 2013, might be higher now
Wanted to save some stomach space, and didn't care for pasta with canned chicken soup and ended up ordering a la carte.

Scrambled egg sandwich with ham on toasted white bread

The order came fairly quickly, but not as immediate as some described. But I have to say it was way quicker than many HK cafes even in California! Good simple comfort food, although having had runny scrambled egg with cha siu rice plate at Shun Hing Dai Pai Dong in Tai Hang a few days ago, I did not think this was that great. Australia Dairy Company is worshipped for having one of the best HK style scrambled eggs in town, but I found it just ok.
The iced coffee was just plain bad. Overly sweet, and way too much ice. Should have ordered it hot.
Still had a little room for dessert
Redemption with steamed milk custard (double skin)
Luckily much better than Yee Shun. A great standard.
I was in and out, from the moment I sat down to the moment I paid the bill and stood up...I'd say within 15 ish mins or less.
The location is very convenient and close to the Jordan MTR station. While the food does not quite live up to the hype, I believe this place should serve as a business model or prototype (case study) for others to learn about efficiency and dealing with scale. Now if only some of those slow pokes in California can visit this eatery just to learn management and efficiency from them, the restaurant world might just be a better place.
澳洲牛奶公司 Australia Dairy Company
G/F, 47-49 Parkes Street, Jordan

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