Rating: 5 / 10
Ever the adventurer, and fascinatingly obsessed with congee, today was my departure day from Hong Kong, but not before dragging my suitcase through countless Mongkok and Prince Edward blocks to end up finally finding this hidden local fave just before giving up.
Google maps failed as usual, and with my complete lack of Cantonese and the locals in that part of town unable to muster more than a couple words of English, I was in trouble. After walking back and forth following the arrow on my phone, I was almost at my wits end before finally realising that the restaurant was not on the ground floor. Up 3 flights of steps I glided, on escalators passing old windows. Up through wet markets with fresh vegetables and soon to be cooked seafood, until the sign on the wall convinced me I was in the right place.
An old woman hobbled over, thrust a menu at me and went back to her conversation. Fish belly congee ordered along with a nice cuppa tea. While they prepped the food I glanced around at the most wonderful shabby decor. These sorts of places will die out in the future, so I feel it's so important to go while you can.
My tea and rice symphony appeared on the newly wiped table. Rumour had it that their selling point, and reason they were a hit with the locals, was their preference to using copper pots. It smelled good. I dug in, pockets of steam escaping through my perforations. I'll be honest, this one wasn't for me.
A long disciple of the church of congee/jok, whatever you fancy, this had a disturbingly metallic taste. I guess I shouldn't have been shocked after the blogs spoke of copper cauldrons where ancient secrets lie.
I have tried far better congee, for my personal taste, in other haunts of Hong Kong. I'll leave this one to the memory bank due to the euphoric nostalgic surroundings, but shall forget the taste of that metallic porridge immediately.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored in the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"