One of the things I love most about living in a new city, is that you really get to discover things you don't normally see as a tourist. Did you know that tucked away on the second level of the Sheung Wan Municipal Services Building and Civic Centre is an entire floor of da pai dong?
Different stalls scattered around the entire floor
As it turns out, since the 1970s, most of the da pai dongs in Hong Kong (street stalls, in other words) have moved indoors into cooked food centres commonly located in such municipal services complexes. And these complexes themselves are pretty interesting. They house wet markets, da pai dongs, sports centres, theatres, rehearsal halls, dance studios, music studios, etc. All these in one tall 12 storey building. A prime example of the extent to which Hong Kong maximizes the use of every plot of land they have, at least in Hong Kong Island that is. Yes, I do have community centres back home, but not in such scale, or rather, height, and they definitely don't house wet markets!
Sweet and sour pork ribs, salt and pepper bummalo
I've had dinner in this da pai dong twice. The first time, my boss brought me here for an authentic local dining experience. This is when I tasted bummalo (九肚鱼) for the first time in my life. It's a kind of fish with soft bones and even softer flesh. Deep fried, the flesh tasted almost like jelly or tofu. I can see how well this dish would go with beer.
laidback local dining
The second time I came here, I was with friends. Like the last time, we randomly chose one of the stalls, sat down and just ate. Fuss free. The food here's decent, home-made tasting fare. It's a pretty cool experience just looking at what the locals are eating and being where they are.
Rui Kee 瑞记咖啡
What really intrigued me though, was what I've heard about an old-school coffee shop in the same da pai dong where the elderly store owner serves his iced milk tea in Schweppes bottles. How can anyone not be captivated by this? So I've been meaning to have breakfast here for some time. It's really near my place, you see. But I never managed to find any time in the morning. I'm unfortunately always in a mad rush (my own doing though, I gotta admit), so it wasn't until M visited that I finally had time to pay this little char chan teng/ coffee house a visit.
Chilled milk tea in Schweppes bottles
Arent these adorable? It's an ingenious way to serve milk tea too, it's cold but will never be diluted cause ice ain't involved. Yumm.
Corned beef and egg bun
And these were actually pretty good. The beef and egg were a great complement to the lightly toasted bun. It ain't spectacular or especially creative, but is the sort of food that makes you go, hey, why didn't I think of making buns this way? I guess I would call this comfort breakfast. And the store owner, who handles a one man show, is inspirationally energetic for his age. Truly. When we left, he asked if we liked the food, and did an energetic wave of goodbye. I guess I would come again, if not for anything, at least for the old store owner's inspirational energy, and his milk tea in schweppes bottles.
Rui Kee 瑞记咖啡
Shop CF17, 2/F
Sheung Wan Municipal Services Building And Civic Centre