Many people lamented when the very famous North Point Dai Pai Dong Tung Po Kitchen was forced to shut down after 30+ years of business. I'd been there once, and had enjoyed the delicious food, though I had conclude "[t]he price was on the high side for a dai pai dong, with the total bill coming in at just under $75 USD for a party of three ordering four dishes and a few bottles of beer."
That was 5 years ago when we had just moved to Hong Kong, being more like bright-eyed "tourists" than seasoned locals.
We are still not seasoned locals, but we've made a few friends. One of our friends told us about Chung Kee, a very local dai pai dong located right in the Lockhart Cooked Food Centre in Wan Chai, not too far from our house!
Chung Kee Restaurant at the Lockhart Cooked Food Centre
Our friend said, "it's like Tung Po, but not as expensive, and it's still very, very good."
We were so thankful that our friends were willing to go with us there. Turns out, the menu is COMPLETELY in Chinese, and all communication is basically done in Cantonese.
Similar to Tung Po Kitchen, the beer here is also enjoyed in ceramic bowls. The atmosphere is boisterous. Our friends tell me that this place can get very crowded, and it's quite popular with the locals.
Stir-fried clams with peppers.
This is a VERY local dish. It's called chicken knees (雞膝), and it's literally just pieces of chicken cartilage (maybe from somewhere near the "knee" equivalent portion?) that are battered and deep-fried. It's something most people may not think of eating, but it's actually pretty tasty. It's a bit crunchy, spicy, and quite flavorful.
Pickled vegetable fish 酸菜魚 was alright, though not very spicy (I guess it's Cantonese style, which usually means very, very mild).
Fresh from the From the Oven
Baked oysters with cheese.
I've seen this style of cooking at French restaurants (more often with paper, but similar), so I was surprised to see it at such a local Cantonese restaurant. Oyster mushrooms are teamed with butter and other flavors in a sealed up foil pocket.
This garlic smothered eggplant was steaming hot when it arriver and was delicious!
Fried Musk Melon Milk Custard
The restaurant rotates through various "specials". I'm not sure if they are new dishes they are trying, or if they are just rotating on a regular basis. This one was honeydew melon and deep fried "milk" 蜜瓜炸脆奶, which was definitely an interesting dessert. The inside was piping hot and soft and custardy. Really, really fun to try! (see below video of me trying it for the first time)
*update* another friend tells me that musk melon fried milk was "all the rage" in the 80's, but not that many places make it anymore.
Our friends were way too generous and ordered so much food for only four people. The prices here seem much more reasonable compared to Tung Po Kitchen, though my guess is that it's not as catered towards tourists, so it may be more difficult to navigate if you don't know the language.
It was certainly a local experience, and we loved it. It's been so fun getting to know these friends, who absolutely love good food but don't like overpaying for it. We've been able to discover so many great local places with them. Now if only I could improve my Cantonese!
Chung Kee Lockhart Cooked Food Centre
225 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai