{hk} kam wah cafe {金華冰廳}

9:46 AM sians 0 Comments

#siansEATShongkong series takes on another local favorite quite heartily -- tea restaurants! or more lovingly known as cha chaan teng {茶餐廳}!

if dim sum was hong kong embodied (read: hk's tim ho wan), then cha chaan teng is the real heart deep into the local culture and the home to cheap food.

the short history | some hong kong people set up these cafes to target the local people by providing different kinds of canto-western cuisine and drinks at very low price led to them being regarded as "cheap western food" or si yau sai chaan (directly translated to 'soy sauce western dishes'). i've tasted some, you could say the food is chinese with a very minor flair of western influence.

my first cha chaan teng in hong kong was on the first day -- or rather night itself: kam wah cafe {金華冰廳}

while there were several restaraunts/cafes near our accommodation, this was one of the closest on my 'to-try-list' of food places. and highly recommended by many foodies as i scoured for food reviews on top places to try in hong kong. it was the only cafe that we've returned for seconds and thirds. 

stepping into kam wah cafe, i was quickly reminded of hk's tvb series that featured these tea restaurants but this had moree than just the basic white walls -- many tables were set up to maximize the dining space with the stools lined on both sides, while a few booths lined the deep red tiled wall where half of the walls were covered by mirrors plastered with the occasional specials menu. communal dining seems to be very typical at these food joints and our first time at kam wah cafe, we experienced the dining culture we had only read about.

[#protip] they have an english menu which is available upon request.

---[ visit #1 | quick dinner ]---

after a long-ish first day, this was our first official food stop in the city and a quick one since it was after 9 pm when we finally reached there.

noodles :: ham and beef in noodle soup (hkd 30)

starting with the noodle soup called gong zai mian {公仔面} -- hong kong style instant noodles as the base, i picked one of the local's favorite pairing in the form of ham and beef since i've always wanted to try it especially after watching the locals slurp them down deliciously in tv shows. i've found out from my local friend that the name gong zai mian comes from the animated mascot on the packaging of the instant noodles.

the soup itself was flavored like the typical instant noodle soup and the noodles were overdone by a hair. however, all these didn't matter when i took a bite of the beef. instensely flavored by the slightly sweetened and soy based marinade in a yummy proportion, the beef stood out even more when it was cooked perfectly - tenderly succulent. the ham was almost seemed like an afterthought and i would have gladly had more slices of the beef but it was nice to have some variety.

noodles :: pork chop in noodle soup (hkd 29)

{mh}'s pick had the same base of instant noodle soup but topped with a different go to meat -- the beloved pork chop. in fact, it is almost the national protein of hong kong. {mh}'s comment: pork chop was fall off the bone tender.

drinks :: milk tea (hkd 16)

a must try food in hong kong -- THE milk tea that i have heard a lot about. at first sip, i was taken aback that it didn't have any sugar since it was my first cup of nai cha then i began to understand the reason for the pot full of sugar at the table. generally served unsweetened, you can the right amount of sweetness to the tea + milk that fits your taste buds. here, the black tea flavor was so strong that it overshadowed the milkiness of the tea served in a tea cup.

---[ visit #2 | pre-breakfasting ]---

bread :: pineapple bun (hkd 6)

an early pre-breakfast treat, i've read that kam wah serves one of the best pineapple buns in hong kong. although this beloved local bread is called pineapple bun or polo pau {菠蘿包}, the traditional version does not have any pineapple in it but its name originated from the top crust of the bun that resembles the epicarp of pineapple. in fact, it has been instated as hong kong's intangible cultural heritage by the local government in june 2014.

arriving at the cafe at the early hours on a weekday, there was already a small crowd waiting for the fresh-from-the-oven buns. starting with the aroma of baked bread that leads your way towards the cafe, the bun was still warm in its paper bag. the crispy top contrasted the soft buttery bun with just the right amount of sweetness. it was a treat indeed and should not be missed!

----[ visit #3 | brunching local style ]---

busier than our prior visits, the saturday brunch brought so many diners here that sharing of table was inevitable. communal dining, hong kong style. probably good to know that pork/chicken chops are not available in the mornings.

pastries ::  egg tart (hkd 5)

since we didn't have enough time to visit the famous tai cheong bakery (sad face!), i still wanted to get a taste of hong kong egg tarts in comparison to its macanese portugese counterpart. a bright yellow, smooth custard that filled the crust that tasted a tad lacklustre -- wasn't as flaky or as crumbly as i'd like. and it was too sweet for my liking that it overpowered the flavors of the custard.

breakfast :: bbq pork pineapple bun (hkd 20)

beginning with the fresh, delicious polo pau that cushioned the bbq pork or better known as char siu with just the right amount of meat to fat ratio, was cooked to point it is tenderly succulent. the creamy mayonnaise injected an additional dimension to the flavor and elevated the moistness. these two aspects contrasted the texture of crisp sweet crust atop the pineapple bun with its soft insides where the flavor combination of savory and sweet shone although learning more towards the sweet. a party of textures and flavors in a single sandwich.

kam wah cafe on bute street left its positive mark in my hong kong foodie-logue with its polo pau + char siu and the flavorful beef in noodle soup. on top of their delicious renditions of succulent, tender meat and the crispy yet soft pineapple buns, the authentic cha chaan teng efficient, attentive service and bustling experience is definitely another reason to make a visit to this quintessential family run business.

kam wah cafe | location
47, bute street,
mongkok, kowloon
hong kong
{opens daily 6:30am - 12am}
nearest mtr station: prince edward station, b2 exit

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.