Every traveler knows the timeless quote “do what the Romans do” and when it comes to food there’s no better way for this quote to hold true. Back in 2012 I tried out some pretty cool food from different places and I really wanted to blog about those food back then. This time around I decided to visit places I ate in before and some new ones as well.
IKEA Swedish Meatballs
Even before I left all of my friends and officemates were telling me to buy/try IKEA’s Swedish meatballs. They were raving about those meatballs and it only heightened my excitement even more.
When I visited IKEA the first time the lines to their bistro were really long and I didn’t have the patience to wait. On my second trip the lines weren’t so bad and bought a box of 10 ($18 or $9/5 pieces) meatballs. In my mind the meatballs would be gigantic Swedish sized ones, but nope these were small and smothered in gravy.
The first bite was wow, lightly spiced and really packed with a lot of flavor. The meat was well ground, there were no chunky bits or stray bones/tendons. Accompanying the meatballs was the gravy, it made the meatballs even more flavorful and delicious.
At this point I would like to make a confession, after eating my first box of Swedish meatballs, I couldn’t help myself and ordered another box of 10. IKEA knows its meat and knows how to make good food.
The IKEA Bistro is located in The Park Lane, 310 Gloucester Road. The Bistro is open from 10:30am – 10:30pm. Price range: $15-20.
Lan Fong Yuen
I remember visiting this restaurant for the first time, it was located in the basement of Chungking Manor in Tsim Sha Tsui and it looked very old but whoah their food was good. Last time I had their breakfast luncheon which was sausage, ham, egg, two buns with that condensed milk and butter spread, and a glass of iced milk tea. After having a king’s breakfast I noticed just how long the line to Lan Fong Yuen was and apparently it was a very popular restaurant for breakfast.
Now I am back for dinner and I didn’t know what I wanted. So I ordered their pork chop fillet with cream sauce with rice and milk tea. Because I was super tired, my order was wiped completely from memory that whatever the waiter of Lan Fong Yuen placed in front of me, I assumed to be my order.
The order in front of me was a steaming bowl of egg, macaroni, pork fillet in tomato soup. It didn’t look appetizing, in fact I thought a witch had brewed alongside the bones of rodents, the youthful essence of children, and spices in her large vat of mystical witchcraft powers.
At first glance yes it was unappetizing but in my hunger and fatigue I needed something to eat. I found the meal very soupy, the pork cutlet was fine, and the egg was delicious. I gobbled it while trying to find enjoyment or at least figure out how my meal was considered a specialty.
Lan Fong Yuen is located in Shop 26, Lower Ground, Chung King Mansion, 36-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. Price range: ~$45-$50.
Cafe de Coral
If we have our Jollibee and local fast food joints, Hong Kong has Cafe de Coral and it is just as ubiquitous as our own fast food diners. On the last day of my trip I made a conscious effort to visit Cafe de Coral and try one of their dishes.
Located in one of Causeway Bay’s many cafeterias I arrived just before lunch, which was a good thing since the lines and the place gets filled up really, really quickly. Seeing the sudden influx of diners I made a quick decision of what I would order — grilled chicken with pork miso, rice, and my usual iced milk tea.
Upon ordering I was given a receipt and went to another line to claim my food. The line wasn’t long given the speed of the servers behind the counter, the moment they saw my receipt they began assembling my order in a quick Flash-like manner. In no time I had everything and just picked a seat in beside random people.
My meal was loaded, the pork was oozing like gravy soup, the chicken soft but it didn’t have the grilled taste. Come to think of it, the pork miso was the true highlight of the dish and not the chicken, it was a hearty meal and tasted really great.
Price range: $40-55
Traditional Noodles and Egg Waffles
Any traveler knows that to understand the culture of a place one has to sample its street food. In Hong Kong there are really a lot of ways to sample its street food, fish balls, waffles, noodles, skewers of seafood. There are a lot and all I needed was to follow the scent of food cooking and people congregating somewhere.
In almost every corner of Hong Kong there will be the neighborhood noodle shop. Each store most likely has some variation on the traditional dish of beef, chicken and pork, plus toppings ranging from dumplings to tofu. The combinations of a traditional Chinese noodle soup are limitless. While in Tsim Sha Tsui, I randomly saw a noodle shop that looked quite inviting. The round tables, a few chairs, and the bouquet of chopsticks beckoned and I just couldn’t resist. I ordered a beef wonton noodle soup with a cold milk tea. While waiting the restaurant began filling up, parties were seated with other parties, and before I knew it the whole restaurant was reaching its capacity.
When my noodle soup arrived, I settled in to enjoy a hot meal from the biting cold. The noodles were piping hot, the shrimp dumplings very plump and flavorful. However the soup base was a bit on the bland side, it needed some salty or peppery kick to get it going.
On the other hand, to counterbalance the salty I needed something sweet. The weather in Hong Kong wasn’t exactly cooperative, it would peak at around 12-15* and then drop to a bone chilling 2-3*, the idea of buying ice cream or milkshakes was certainly out of the question.
Instead I opted for something out of the ordinary, egg waffles from the street food stalls selling fish balls and curry balls. I found it weird that Hong Kong would have a very western desert in their menu, but the shape and the color is quite appealing and it’s pretty obvious why people buy it.
Shaped like a beehive, the waffle comes in two flavors: chocolate and plain, the price ranges from $6 to $20 depending on the location. There is nothing grand about the egg waffle, it tastes like an ordinary chiffon cake without the buttery taste. It is plain and airy with a hard exterior and an airy or light interior. It’s not a heavy meal but its more than enough to stave off hunger pangs.
Price range for traditional noodles: $30-50 depending on your location and how good you are in finding it. Price range for egg waffles: $6-20, depending on your location.