In the last 13 years or so, it seems that Hong Kong Board of Tourism has successfully positioned and marketed the strengths of the best eats of Hong Kong, and thrusted them into the limelight for countries that have a strong Chinese speaking (and reading) population. Thus not just bloggers, but all forms of broadcast medium (internet, magazine, newspaper, TV) are finding ways to capitalize on the trend.
And this is good (and bad) news for many Hong Kong eateries. The places that were once fiercely guarded as local favorites, quickly became the darling destinations of visitors abroad, whether it be China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, or even USA/Canada (let's face it, Chinese people are everywhere in the world). The fight for precious real estate, a seat at your favorite eatery, has suddenly became that much more difficult. We haven't even dived into consistency and quality, which is always a challenge. The popular shops seem to be always operating on scale, something many overseas establishments struggle very much with, yet it seems like childs play to folks like these.
So Kam Wah Café 金華冰廳 I'm sure has been widely mentioned since...oh...I'm so late to the game...2007 or before in all forms of blogs and social media. Every guide book published out there will have a mention of this legendary café. Once you find yourself on Bute street, it's just a matter of finding the storefront. On a weekday even at 2 pm, expect lots of people in line. But you want to make sure you are standing in the right one....there is one for takeout (people buying buns and pastries) and the other is for dine-in.
"People Mountain People Sea" 人山人海
The menu is pretty wide. But if you do a little research ahead of time, there are only a handful of signatures for a quick rest stop (which is the whole idea anyway). One hot bun, and one drink. Because stomach space is so valuable in a region that has so many things to eat, with so little time.
One $14 bun and on hot cup of $8 drink, coming right up!
Hot milk tea 熱奶茶
Pineapple bun with butter (contains no pineapple) 菠蘿油
Ask a local, and they will tell you different opinions about the pineapple bun with butter 菠蘿油 here.
Some will say it is not their style. The other famous item here, the Mexican bun 墨西哥包 (which has nothing to do with Mexico in any shape or form), only comes out during certain times of the day, and luck was not on my side. Pineapple buns come out of the oven piping hot quite frequently, and these are their best seller without a doubt.
Whether it is your style or not, there is something awesome about a super piping hot pineapple bun fresh out of the oven, with a quick slab of cold salted butter in between. If you live overseas like I do, you will come to appreciate this version VERY quickly, as it is vastly superior to anything around. Perfect structural integrity, good texture in and out, and the interplay between salty and sweet, lightly toasty crispy and fluffy and puff pastry/multi layered, and the hotness of the bun with the coldness of the butter. It all comes together quite nicely. And then a sip of hot milk tea which is quite pleasing here despite trusted locals who don't think it is anything great...but it works.
So complain all we want about how there are better buns elsewhere, or the buns are good but the milk tea stinks. Yet there is something quite calming about the controlled chaos in here...cramped space (but not to the point of torture), sharing a table with strangers, loud noises, yet pretty down to earth and simple offerings that hit the spot.
In and out within 25 mins or so. Not too shabby.
And then onward to the next eating adventure...
Whooops sorry dude, I wasn't trying to violate you with my cel phone cam!
Kam Wah Café 金華冰廳
G/F, 47 Bute Street, Prince Edward