Tsim Sha Tsui East Branch
Ground Floor, no. 60-66 Harbour Crystal Centre
100 Granville Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
+852 2722 6600
The highlight of my trip has definitely been Hong Kong (that, and the time when my dad’s cousin’s little girl called my mother ‘oma’ and got my mum upset – hah!). Speed and efficiency is the norm in Hong Kong and to a Type A crazy person like myself, I definitely felt at home. As for the food… oh man, where do I start? Suffice to say that if Hong Kong was a person, I’d do all sorts of unspeakable things to it… and more.
I’m already planning my second trip there later this year to do all the things I didn’t get to do the first time around, not to mention the stuff I didn’t get to eat. For now though, the next best thing is to reminisce about all the wonderful things I was lucky enough to eat during my not-long-enough four-night stay there, starting with our late dinner at Tsui Wah.
Tsui Wah is a cha chaan teng restaurant, a common eatery found all over Hong Kong. They are famous for churning out cheap pan-Asian and Western fusion-type meals to the masses, with some of the dishes being a bit on the WTF side (instant noodle soup with spam, anyone?). Having spent many afternoons at Box Hill after school, I’ve grown up eating at CCTs regularly so I kinda knew what to expect. But how did the Box Hill CCTs fare to the original ones back in Hong Kong? There was only one way to find out.
I visited three CCTs in Hong Kong (okay fine, two – the third one doesn’t count because it was a Yunnan noodle restaurant that decided to serve CCT fare for breakfast). Tsui Wah is actually a franchise with heaps of branches all over Hong Kong. Unlike traditional CCT restaurants, Tsui Wah restaurants are brightly-lit and sparkly – they look more like American diners than old school CCT tea houses.
There was a Tsui Wah near our hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui so we decided to give it a shot. It was something like 9pm on a Monday night when we walked in but the restaurant was still quite full. We still managed to get a table for seven though.
One can’t go to a CCT without ordering a Hong Kong-style milk tea. And even though I’m trying to limit my caffeine intake, I have a weakness for these sweet and slightly starchy teas so I had one. Delicious.
Tsui Wah specialises in fish ball noodle soups. You can also add stuff like wontons or fishcakes to your soups too. Both my cousin Jess and aunty Emy ordered the soups, though they were disappointed that the restaurant ran out of flat rice noodles. Never mind, they thought, we’ll get vermicelli. However, their version of vermicelli was just as thick as a strand of rice noodle anyway?
Regardless, we all thought the fish ball soups were beautiful. We loved the miky and fishy broth and the balls themselves were flavoursome. Jess did say that she did get a bit bored halfway through eating her soup though – as nice as the soup was, it started to taste a bit one dimensional to her.
My brother (Ken) and sister (Janice) both had crispy fried egg noodles – Ken had his with vegies while Janice had hers with seafood. Servings were generous (can’t remember how much they were but they wouldn’t have been more than AUD$10) and the noodles still remained beautifully crispy despite being drenched in sauce.
I had the king prawns with noodles because the words ‘XO sauce’ drew me in. While the fish ball noodles were excellent, I have to say that I liked this dish better. The noodles were springy and the prawns were super-fresh. I also liked that they had the XO sauce on the side so diners can decide how much they wanted in the dish (me? I chucked the whole lot in, of course).
None of us got to try the Western dishes that night but I’ll definitely come back to give them a go next time. The best thing about Tsui Wah is that a lot of their branches are open 24 hours a day so you can quickly duck in at 4am after a heavy karaoke sessions. And while the Tsim Sha Tsui East Branch isn’t a 24-hour branch, they still close pretty late – 2am during the week and 3am on weekends. To a bumpkin Melburnian like myself, I reckon that’s pretty damn good.