On a gloomy Monday night we met up for dinner with one of my many cousins who now lives in Hong Kong. We ventured to Sai Ying Pun on the MTR for the first time since it opened (for the record, we were in Hong Kong when it opened but could not be bothered with the crowds) and the new stations are so nice and modern! The turnstiles and ticket machines are so streamlined! It was quite a beautiful sight. This also ensures that property prices in the area have skyrocketed. *cries*
Back to food! Kwan Kee is considered a 大牌檔 (dai pai dong), a traditional Hong Kong cooked food stall. Dai pai dongs have become far and few around Hong Kong but a lot of them are still located in the Central and Western districts of Hong Kong and at Sham Shui Po in Kowloon. This particular one we went to had indoor seating and we were lucky to get the last table inside before it started to rain. Kwan Kee specializes in claypot dishes that arrived at the table sizzling hot! Being a bigger group than the usual Momma dJ + Micca, we were able to order more food to try, especially the claypot rice.
When presented with a big bowl of tea or hot water, you must wash your plates, bowls, and utensils just as a precaution. My brother and I have become quite used to it that we joke around that you have to drink the liquid after. DO NOT DRINK THE LIQUID. But jokes are always half meant 😛 We started dinner with some sautéed kangkong (water spinach) because one needs vegetables before diving into the possibly less healthy stuff :3 The next dish was some deep fried salt and pepper squid rings that were quickly devoured and some fish and tofu soup to wash down some of the grease. The fish in the soup was a bit bony but nothing we can’t handle.
Next up was braised sizzling spare ribs with some pork liver. Now, I know some people are squeamish about innards and stuff so I’ll let you know that innards are my fave to eat especially in Chinese cuisine. The pork liver had that really chewy, earthy taste that was accentuated by the sweet sauce. This dish also included generous bulbs of garlic that we fought over. It was essentially a lightsaber battle using chopsticks. Mom then surprised me with the best damn eel I’ve ever had. Like innards, I have a strong affinity with eel (or basically just food) stemming from discovering unagi (Japanese grilled eel) as a child. Eel in black bean sauce really took the cake for me and I wanted to cry because it was fresh and So. Damn. Good.
We finally received our famed claypot rice which took about 20 minutes to cook over charcoal. We got a beef with spring onions and egg claypot rice and the more traditional Chinese and liver sausage claypot rice. Pour some soy sauce in the rice, mix, serve, and enjoy. The beef claypot rice almost seemed like a sizzling gyudon (Japanese beef over rice) but everything was definitely very very fresh. There was no slimy taste in either the beef or the egg. You cannot go wrong with sausage claypot rice. It’s like an institution, especially on rainy nights when you want to warm up. The Chinese sausage was quite standard and the liver sausage, if you’ve never had it, had this rich and somewhat sweet taste that went really great with the rice. Can we just get all liver sausage next time?
As per our tradition when we’re really stuffed, bottles of Coke were ordered to really wash everything down and burp our hearts out. Hong Kong Coke in the little glass bottles taste a lot better than the American stuff so it truly is a treat and quite a challenge to not finish it in one go. Another thing about Kwan Kee is that they have English translations on their menu for people who have poor Chinese skills like me. But you do have to decide what you wanna order quickly because that’s just the way it is in Hong Kong.
As you eat, you’ll hear loud chattering from other tables, people calling on the servers to add another dish, and the whoosh of a big fire every time the door to the kitchen is opened. Everything is moving so fast but remember to enjoy the moment. Whether it’s the meal or the company, dining at a dai pai dong is something you must definitely try while in Hong Kong. Also, our meal wasn’t complete without my mom and cousin fighting over the bill. Spoiler alert: Momma dJ won ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Was that hella romanticized or what?
坤記煲仔小菜 Kwan Kee Claypot
Shop 1, Wo Yick Mansion
263 Queen’s Road West
Western District, Hong Kong
+852 2803 7209
Monday to Saturday 1100H – 0030H
Sunday 1800H – 0030H