After a tantalizing meal at Mak Man Kee, it was time to have dinner #2 (I know, I know, what gluttony :p) just conveniently next door at the famed Australia Dairy Company (澳洲牛奶公司)!
Australia Dairy Company is one of the top char chan tengs (茶餐厅) in Hong Kong according to Openrice.com having crowned it one of 2011's Best Restaurants under the Hong Kong Style Tea Restaurants category. Basically, it's an old-skool version of the modern, jazzed-up Wong Kok Char Chan Teng or Kim Gary that we get here in Malaysia.
During our pre-trip research, we read a lot about how the queues for Australia Dairy Company would be insane in the mornings and Zhen Han's Hong Kong friends, Tiffany & Cecilia, confirmed this. So if you intend on paying them a visit, it might be beneficial to consider making your way there in the night instead. We went in close to 10pm after dinner at Mak Man Kee next door, and although the place was still crowded, we didn't have to wait long for a table. :)
I suppose the menu can be considered pretty extensive for a char chan teng, but we decided to leave the food ordering to our two experts and chose our drinks instead.
Service at Australia Dairy Company brings a whole new meaning to efficiency - each waiter has a tiny little memo pad with him, and as he writes each order, he tears it off and hands it to other waiters walking past. Before we were done with ordering food, our drinks had arrived without our waiter even leaving our table! :D
Our choice of drinks didn't vary much - it was either the Hot Milk Tea (热奶茶, HKD 17) or Iced Milk Tea (凍奶茶, also HKD 17) that Hong Kong is so famous for. And it didn't disappoint! Definitely different from what we're used to, a more distinct smooth, milky flavour instead of condensed milk.
We ordered a few servings of this to share at Tiffany & Cecilia's recommendation - the Scrambled Eggs with Toast (炒蛋多士, HKD 14). I can see why everyone waxes lyrical about Australia Dairy Company; the layer of scrambled eggs were soft and still slightly runny, but the toast deserves a sentence on its own. A hands-down winner, the thickly sliced toast was fluffy, airy and soft. Perfect!
Something else that we're told is good in Australia Dairy Company, is their famous steamed puddings. See the area above, where it's just bowls and bowls and bowls of pudding waiting to be served?
We ordered two to share round the table. First, we tried the Steamed Egg White Milk Custard Pudding (蛋白焞鲜牛奶, HKD 20). I enjoyed the smoothness of the egg and the strong flavour of fresh milk which made for a very soothing hot treat.
But of course, let not the yolk go to waste! There's also the yolk version - Steamed Egg Custard (杏汁燉蛋, HKD 20). This has a far stronger egg flavour due to the yolk being used and is also sweeter. I prefered the milder egg white pudding, while the guys couldn't decide and instead married the both together in a separate bowl, declaring it the best way to have the puddings. :D
Like every other char chan teng in Hong Kong, Australia Dairy Company also does set meals consisting of varied combinations of macaroni in clear broth (another popular char chan teng delicacy), toast, eggs and drinks which was what we saw a lot of people having at other tables. Too bad we were already too stuffed that night, or we would have went all out! Another trip to Hong Kong, anyone? :p
To walk off a bit of all that food, we made our way on foot to the Jordan MTR station and took a quick train ride to the Yau Ma Tei MTR station one stop away.
Some streets are closed off to only allow pedestrians during certain hours of the night, so you'll get to experience the busy, bustling night streets of Mongkok! Look at how lively the place is, people from all walks of life and bright neon signs everywhere you look. :)
Bryan had been requesting to have Chou Dau Fu (臭豆腐 - Smelly Tofu! I know it sounds crude but there really is no better translation than that, haha) so our feet stopped at the first snack shop (Kai Kee Snack Shop) we saw on Dundas Street in Mongkok, to have some. Or rather, our noses stopped! No joke, the pungent aroma of these fermented tofu cubes hits you from metres away.
Bryan was the only one bought a pack, and I decided to gingerly take a bite (even though Adam threatened he wouldn't come near me the rest of the night.. hey, you only live once right! And, if CNN Go lists it as #41 on the World's 50 most delicious foods, who is he to complain? :p). Surprisingly, despite it's foul odour, it didn't taste as bad. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, it actually tasted a lot like normal tofu to me. Not something I would return for. (I'm sure Adam is pleased!)
We walked further up along Sai Yeung Choi Street (西洋菜街, the two pictures on the right), a popular spot for many HK-ites plying their trade in the arts to the crowds there. We saw a band playing, some martial arts, and the lady in the bottom right picture, who was writing chinese characters with powder. It's also a famous filming location in Hong Kong of late; notable movies that have filmed scenes there are 72 Tenants of Prosperity and The Fortune Buddies.
Further up is the notable Tung Choi Street (通菜街) or better known as Ladies Street (女人街, lui yan gai), where you'll get all sorts of stuff - from bags to stuffed animals, from clothes to iPhone covers, even pirated card games like Saboteur! Bargaining is allowed, but I'm quite crap at it so I'm sure you can all get better deals than I did. :p
As the night wound down and the stalls at the Ladies Street began to shut, we decided to stop by Hui Lau Shan Healthy Dessert for a nightcap.
Hui Lau Shan is so notoriously well-spread across Hong Kong, that I reckon it's nearly impossible for you to go a day without seeing one on the streets. With one main ingredient - mango, they've managed to build this huge dessert empire from drinks to ice cream to tong suis, even food (no mango in that though!) is found on their menu.
Everyone was all tired out from the hot humid Hong Kong weather so all we really wanted was a icy cold drink which Hui Lau Shan had plenty of, ranging from aloe vera, to pureed mango, to sago.
Being a mango lover, I felt compelled to order the Mango Trio Dessert Platter (HKD 39) just so I could sample a mini version of some of their popular desserts. The platter consisted of the Crystal Jelly with Mango and Mango Ice Cream (left), Mango & Glutinous Rice Balls in Mango Juice (top) and the Mango Mochi with Fresh Mango Slices. This was not too bad, although I really only liked the refreshing mango ice cream made from fresh mangoes and the mango mochi, with cold fresh mango filling.
(Gosh, I don't think I've ever typed 'mango' so many times in my life before! o_0)
If you ever drop by Hui Lau Shan, I would say that the drinks are definitely more worth trying, especially on a hot day. Ignore the platter and choose a refreshing, fresh mango drink instead.
And that, also brings us to the end of a great Day 4 in Hong Kong. With nearly all the sightseeing and touristy stuff done, it was time to indulge in some female activity on Day 5. *cue male groans all around*
Till next post! :)