Cheap Eats: Island South, Kowloon, N.T. and others


Island South & Others

Housed inside the Aberdeen Fish Market – aka the Tsukiji of Hong Kong – this tiny canteen is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. The specialty here is uber fresh seafood of course and the restaurant operates on an omakase system where you state your price and the owner churns out a menu according to the day’s freshest catch. A lunch here will set you back anywhere from $250 to $400. It might not sound cheap at first, but it’s a steal considering that you’re served at least eight dishes of the freshest seafood in town. Aberdeen Fish Market, 102 Shek Pai Wan Rd, Aberdeen, 2552 7555. Chinese only.

Shan Look Tse Kee is known to provide some of the tastiest fishballs in the city. The tiny, fluffy spheres are hand-pounded every day and have an exceptional buoyancy to them. Get the assorted soup noodle ($36) which piles together deep-fried fishcakes, fishballs, cuttlefish balls and beef balls over a bed of flat rice hor fun or yellow egg noodles. Don’t forget to try the deep-fried fish skins ($20) too, which go swimmingly as a side snack. 80-82 Old Main St, Aberdeen, 2552 3809. Chinese only.

Who says you have to pay an arm and a leg for a seafood feast? At this cooked food centre stall, the chef will steam, fry, roast or bake whatever fresh provisions you bring up from the seafood wet market on the ground floor. All you’ll be charged for is the cooking and oil fee, which is $20-$40 depending on the dish. The stall is only open in the daytime and lunch usually comes up to less than $100 a head. Shop CF3, 2/F, Ap Lei Chau Complex, Ap Lei Chau, 2553 1938. Chinese only.

This is one of the only places in town that does Teochew rice rolls. Unlike Cantonese rice rolls, which are tightly bundled around their fillings, the Teochew variety takes a large sheet of freshly steamed rice flour batter and loads it up with bean sprouts, eggs, dried shrimps, mushrooms and a variety of meats or seafood with a generous splash of soy sauce. The rice rolls are most traditionally topped off with baby oysters ($20) but you can add an extra topping here for just $3. Shop A6B, King Po Mansion, Che Fong St, Kwai Fong, 2418 9638. Chinese only.

It’s a little known fact but some of the best ice creams actually come from the Philippines. At Yuen Long’s Victoria Oriental Super Store, the owners stock ice-cold, creamy concoctions from Quezon City’s famous Arce Dairy Company ($20 for a single scoop). The store offers an interesting range of flavours, including coconut palm, avocado, maize and pandan, but our hearts beat for the ‘supreme ube’, which is by far the best purple yam ice cream we’ve had in a long while. 11 Sau Fu St, Yuen Long, 2470 2487.

The cutely packed bento boxes here are a huge hit with the nearby office ladies. The focus is on quick and healthy eating with everything prepared fresh to order right on the premises. The signature seaweed bento ($25) includes nori-covered white rice served with fried fish, pasta and a spoonful of potato salad, but we lean more towards the donburi rice bowls topped with deep-fried pork cutlet and runny scrambled eggs ($29). Shop 110B, The Lane, 15 Pui Shing Rd, Tseung Kwan O, 2706 3308;

This charming seaside eatery dishes up a finger-licking selection of greasy pub grub. Chunks of battered-and-fried fish come with a crisp, golden crust that’s made to be slathered with tartare sauce. It’s $40 with a side of salt-showered fries and an extra $5 if you want to supplement the plate with mushy green peas. You can order a Boddingtons as well and it’s still a steal.
49 Sai Kung Hoi Pong St, Sai Kung, 9279 3839.

A stroll around Sai Kung on a hot summer’s day pretty much necessitates a scoop of gelato or sorbet. Cue Bibini. The homemade frozen treats here are all made with top notch ingredients and plenty of TLC. The gelati come in traditional flavours such as nocciola, Italian coffee and pistachio, while sorbets play around with seasonal fruit flavours like strawberry and yuzu. It’s $27 for a single scoop, $39 for a double and $45 for a triple. Shop 11, G/F, Ko Fu House, 58-72 Fuk Man Rd, Sai Kung, 6040 7278.


This tiny shack is dedicated to all things cheese. Try the nachos ($33), parmesan-sprinkled bread sticks ($22) and cheese-laden mashed potatoes ($18). By far the most interesting and indulgent offering here is the cream cheese and black truffle dip ($40) designed to be scooped up with slices of perfectly crisp and well-browned toast. This is about as extravagant as street snacks go. Shop 6, Cheong Tai Bldg, Tsuen Hing Path, Tsuen Wan, 2490 0232.

TOP 5 Endangered snacks

Maltose crackers
This is basically just two soda crackers spiked on a bamboo skewer and glued together with maltose syrup. Don’t scoff at the simplicity though – maltose crackers used to be one of Hong Kong’s most popular snacks back when most kids didn’t have enough pocket money to afford fancier things. Now in the generation where it’s common for a three-year-old to own an iPad, the demand for these humble snacks has gone completely downhill and most places don’t even bother selling them anymore. Super Bowl King is one of the few stores in town that has continued to stock maltose crackers. It’s worth a try – after all, it’s only a few dollars for a taste of nostalgia. Super Bowl King, 160A Wanchai Rd, Wan Chai, 2893 7178. $4.

Candy and coconut wrap
The proper way to eat these sugar-filled wraps is straight from the mobile street vendor. Unfortunately, these travelling sweets salesmen have become an increasingly rare sight. Super Bowl King (see above) and local snacks store Wo Kee Loong still do these retro nibbles and they do it the traditional way with pulled sugar brittle and desiccated coconut carefully wrapped in a paper-thin crêpe. Woo Kee Loong, Shop 24, Ngong Ping 360 Village, Lantau Island, 2342 7106. $8.

Stinky tofu
Deep-fried stinky tofu is a gravely endangered type of snack thanks to the incessant complaints about its distinct, funky odor. The unique smell comes from the lengthy fermentation process that the bean curd undergoes. This process is also what gives the tofu its awesome flavour and the overall consensus among stinky tofu connoisseurs is that the smellier the curd, the tastier it is. Chuen Cheong Foods, Shop D, 150 Wanchai Road, Wan Chai, 2575 8278. $7.

Mobile preserved fruits
There are plenty of places that sell preserved fruits in Hong Kong, but not many of them sell their wares from a giant mobile street cart. But if you turn into Hau Fook Street any time between midday and 7.30pm, you'll find one of the city's last remaining street vendors specialising in prunes, plums and other pickled things. Just point at what you want from his rainbow of snacks and he'll throw 'em in a brown paper bag for you. Street hawker, Hau Fook St., Tsim Sha Tsui, no phone. $10 and up.

Charcoal roasted chestnuts
Streetside chestnut vendors only emerge during the cooler months of the year. When that time comes, you'll visually find one of them stationed under the bridge right outside the Mong Kok East train station. Come winter, it's worth hunting that vendor down just for these sweet and mealy snacks. As an added bonus, the city's chestnut vendors usually do roasted sweet potatoes and salt-baked quail's eggs as well. Street hawker, Mong Kok East Station, Mong Kok, no phone. $10.


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