LIM KEE BING SUT – Wandering the streets around Hong Kong’s Wan Chai, the seedy bars mentioned in our guide books, had been replaced by bathroom showrooms. We just wanted a drink, but could only find local restaurants with long, lunch-time queues. However, Lim Kee Bing Sutt had an enticing window display of tasty looking, savoury pastries and, although there was a short queue, we bit the bullet. Within 10 minutes we were escorted to a tiny triangular table in a small, crowded back room, where we were quickly joined by a local couple. The special lunch menu was only in Chinese and there was no mention of pasties on the main menu. The man saw we were struggling and suggested chicken pies. We ordered two, hoping they wouldn’t be too big, which they weren’t and they were as good as they looked. When our water came, it was luke-warm and poured from a jug, so we were unsure about its safety but having said the magic words, Coca Cola, we were soon sorted with can and straw. In contrast to our small pastry, the couple, and most other diners, feasted on the special lunch: a plate containing a large savoury bun, an omelette stuffed with ham and a large bowl of soup containing noodles, a palm-sized pork chop and a frankfurter! After this experience, we decided to fill up at breakfast and skip lunch.
THE RED PEPPER – Previously in Hong Kong we’d eaten at here, a recommendation by friends, and we decided to return to the “Red Pepper.”:http://www.redpepper.com.hk/. We got the last free table, big enough for ten, but unfortunately, near the door and the air con was arctic. Tea was served automatically along with a selection of pickles. The extensive menu was well laid out and dishes came in either small or medium portions. We chose two small dishes: shredded pork in hot garlic sauce and fried noodles with minced beef and celery, which the waiter said was spicy and two small bowls of rice and shared a large Tsingtao beer. The bill came to HKD 430/£40 which we thought reasonably expensive, but we didn’t leave much and felt nicely full. Service was efficient and the staff, who looked as though they’d worked there for years, wore black and white traditional waiters’ outfits. The manageress was a fearsome woman with what looked like a bird’s nest plonked on her head. All credit cards were accepted and window stickers suggested it was recommended by every well-known travel guide. It was therefore surprising that most customers were Asian with few Western tourists.
MR BLISSFUL – Next door was Mr Blissful a much smaller place with Formica-topped tables for 4 or 2: it was more canteen style with paper place mats and instead of napkins a paper tissue dispenser, no use later when we were slurping away, but they were good for the nose. The menu, in English and Chinese, had the usual variety of dishes but there was a distinct lack of rice dishes, so we chose noodles with sliced beef in black bean sauce and pork chow mein with bean sprouts. Tea was poured and, in the absence of large beers, ordered two small ones. The crisp fried noodles arrived in a large, thick pancake shape with a large bowl of a gloopy broth with shredded pork, crisp bean sprouts, mushrooms, spring onions etc. We weren’t quite sure what this was until the beef dish arrived a couple of minutes later. It was a difficult job eating the three together and the lovely lady who was running the place, saw our confusion (we were the only westerners) and offered forks and spoons which we declined. The food was good, but a little bland until we spotted a small pot of hot sauce on the table which we liberally added. As expected, our bill was half the price of the previous night.
BANGKOK KITCEN – having decided against the concierge recommendation – Food Street, full of soulless European restaurants, we found Bangkok Kitchen, a small busy restaurant with only 10 tables. We ordered a couple of small Singha beers and a Pad Thai with prawns (three large prawns with tails), tasty, easy to eat, noodles and a green chicken curry which contained a veg we didn’t recognise and crunchy green beans. From a small kitchen area, at the front of the restaurant they were doing a roaring takeaway trade of their signature dish, Hainan chicken chopped up and rice. With a shared third beer our bill came to HKD262/£23.
THE POINT – for our final night, we fancied Western food and, even though I despised the idea of a British chain, I Googled and found a Jamie’s a 10-minute walk away. However, on the way there, we spotted a smaller independent-looking Italian, called “The Point”:https://www.thepointhkg.com/. They had the usual pasta and pizza (but sadly not my favourite dish, lasagne) and also a more unusual set of pizza toppings: lobster, complete with shell, foie gras and ox tongue. We opted for a rather boring peperoni pizza and spaghetti carbonara. There was a selection of craft beers available and we chose a Hong Kong Pale Beer and a Gwei Lo Pale Ale as although wine was available, it was £32. The meal was very good although relatively expensive at 414 HKD/£38.