Hong Kong’s cooked food centre king
Related Posts: For more Cooked Food Centre reviews, see tag: cooked food centres
The centre that outshines all others
Maybe I’m biased. Maybe my two-minute proximity to the good stuff makes this write-up a little one-sided. Or maybe my judgement is still clouded by all that sweet and sour chicken I ate there last night. But I doubt it.
You see, in my continuing quest to attain cooked food nirvana, Bowrington Road is still the centre that outshines all others. There may be those with more exotic dishes. Maybe it hasn’t been featured on TV just yet. But for no-nonsense, dai pai dong-style Cantonese cuisine cooked to perfection, in an atmosphere that lets you know “you’re eating in Hong Kong now, boy”, Bowrington Road Cooked Food Centre (鵝頸熟食中心) is still the reigning king. And since when has TV been an arbiter of taste anyway?
The centre is located in Bowrington Road Market two minutes from the maelstrom of shopping and Chinese tourists that is Times Square in Causeway Bay. It is a major reason Bowrington Road Market itself is one of the best markets in Hong Kong – from the freshest fruit and vegetables to its sense-mangling array of seafood and photo opportunities, it has everything you could ever want from a wet market. The Cooked Food Centre is simply the black beans in the sauce, the garlic on the chicken, of the whole Bowrington Road experience.
Muslim grub at Wai Kee
Like all Hong Kong cooked food centres, Bowrington Road is about the food and the fun. There’s no deference to decor here. The furniture is very much of the garden-variety; the tablecloths are polythene and definitely one-use only. But there’s noise and food and hardly a chance you could go home feeling you’d have been better off eating elsewhere.
Open from 6am to 2am, seven days a week, depending on whether you’re coming for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you will find different restaurants open at different times.
During the lunchtime rush, for instance, the centre is particularly notable for its halal (حلال) restaurants. Wai Kee Restaurant (清真惠記) at shop No.5 is usually the busiest, and serves an interesting clientele of Indonesian and Middle Eastern customers, together with some discerning locals. Wan Chai has a sizeable Muslim population and there is a mosque not far away near Morrison Hill Swimming Pool, while Sunday sees plenty of Indonesian domestic helpers enjoying the food.
The signature dishes at Wai Kee are roasted duck and roasted or steamed chicken, served with rice, noodles or curry. There are also several lamb dishes to choose from. The restaurant is generally open from 11am until 6pm when the transition to dinner time begins. Dishes cost around HK$30.
It is after dark, however, when Bowrington Road Cooked Food Centre really gets going. When the night time restaurants open and the dinner diners arrive, business picks up and the volume starts to rise.
Night time at Wing Kee
There are three restaurants that operate at night. The pick of them, Wing Kee (榮記), is the first one you encounter upon entering. It’s the one with the pink table covers and is the restaurant by which my whole dai pai dong love affair is defined. You may have to wait around for a table if you arrive between 7pm and 8:30pm, but if you manage to prevent yourself be Shanghaied by the meeters and greeters from the other restaurants, your patience will surely be rewarded.
Seafood is the big thing at Bowrington Road Cooked Food Centre. Steamed fish in black bean sauce will set you back around $70; stir-fried shrimp around $55. There is squid and shellfish of all varieties. You can even splash out on crab if you feel up for the job. Aside from seafood, I’ve yet to find a roasted chicken in Hong Kong that beats the one at Bowrington Road. While the sweet and sour pork is done just how I like it – like the sauce was dredged from the cooling tanks of Fukushima and could turn your insides orange.
Three dishes between two people is likely leaving you plenty of change from $200. And yes, English menus are available if you look like you’re going to need one.
Get Involved: If you’ve been to Bowrington Road Cooked Food Centre or have your own cooked food king, let me know in the comments below.
How to get Bowrington Road Cooked Food Centre
The centre is located on the 2nd floor of the Bowrington Road Indoor Market building. Enter via the staircase on the Bowrington Road side of the building or the lift at the bottom.
MTR: Causeway Bay Station, exit A – Times Square
Tram/Bus: Hennessey Road. Times Square/Canal Road stops
Check out the map here.
The opening hours of Bowrington Road Cooked Food Centre are 6am to 2am daily. Different restaurants open at different times depending on whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Lunch: 11am – 6pm
Wai Kee Restaurant, Shop 5, 2/F (灣仔寶靈頓道21 號鵝頸街市1樓鵝頸熟食中心5號鋪)
For: Halal, curry, duck/chicken/lamb dishes
Dinner: 6pm – 2am
Wing Kee Restaurant, Shop 4, 2/F (灣仔寶靈頓道21號鵝頸街市鵝頸熟食中心1字樓4號舖)
For: Classic dai pai dong-style food, seafood