We Like It Hot

While it used to be next to impossible to get decent Sichuan food in Hong Kong, it seems to me that in recent years hole-in-the-wall Shanghainese restaurants have added Sichuan dishes to their menus and are doing a pretty good job of it. I’m no expert on Shanghai food but I’m somewhat certain that super spicy isn’t a part of it.

This place in Mong Kok is one of our current favorites.

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The English sign, as you can see, says “The Best Shanghai Fusion” while the Chinese name is Ho Ho something or other. They appear to have two shops on the same street, Fa Yuen Street (aka Sneaker Street) just off the corner of Dundas. This is the larger of the two locations and is the one we always eat at. They have an English menu, lots of photos, and some of the staff speaks English, so dining here is easy. It’s also fairly cheap. We’ve eaten here several times, just usually I forget to take pictures.

We started off with wontons in a very spicy sauce:

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I’ve eaten this in a lot of places. I can’t say that it’s any better or worse here than at others. What I can say is that it probably took us less than 60 seconds to polish this off. (Okay, we were hungry and this is the first dish that arrived at the table.)

Next we went for the king prawns in “extreme hot chili sauce.”

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Well, as you can see, I’m still learning a new camera and I thought I was focused on the bowl but somehow only the toothpicks up top are in focus. Here’s the big sign for the dish on the wall.

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The most expensive dish we ordered, at HK$118. It really did have 8 big prawns in it, and they really did taste fresh.  My tolerance for spicy isn’t as high as my gf’s – she started slurping the sauce with a spoon.

The last dish was a spicy chicken with cumin.

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I know, it looks pretty good, but we probably wouldn’t order this again. The taste was okay but I didn’t care for the mushy texture of the chicken.

The place also has a selection of “special drinks” – bubble teas, fruit punches and the like, but we didn’t go for that. If our time in Mong Kok wasn’t so limited, perhaps we would have relaxed there for a spell.  Other people certainly felt free to, like this guy who took off his shoes and put his feet up on the bench. How droll.

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Maybe it’s because I can’t afford the ritzy joints of Lan Kwai Fong or Soho, but lately it seems as if many of my favorite restaurants can be found in and around the Yau Tsim Mong district (Yau Ma Tei, Jordan, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok). There are some streets in Tsim Sha Tsui that are positively bursting with some good food deals – I’m thinking of Ashley Road and those streets running between Nathan Road and Chatham Road South (especially Hart Avenue) in particular.

Mong Kok is of course filled to overflowing with restaurants of all shapes and sizes. Open Rice currently lists 1,785 places there. We had a favorite hole in the wall dim sum place there (not Tim Ho Wan) but it recently closed. There’s this cheapo Vietnamese place that doesn’t serve banh mi (none of the HK style Vietnamese places do) but has this butter fried chicken wing thing to die for (and with all the butter that’s in it, and then deep fried, it probably is heart-attack-inducing if you indulge too often).

We’ve mostly explored the streets south of Argyle Street and mostly had very good luck walking into places just because we like the look of them. There’s lots of nice places right on the street with Ladies Market, just hidden behind the stalls. I think now it’s time for us to start looking north of Argyle as well.

Any and all restaurant recommendations gratefully accepted!

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