Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stir fry diner - Kam Ho

The full name of this place is 金豪肥牛豬骨煲 (lit. Kam Ho fatty beef and pork bone hotpot), but I didn't see anyone having fatty beef nor hotpot.  I call restaurants like these "stir fry diners" - in Hong Kong Cantonese we call them 小炒皇 siu chau wong, meaning "king of little stir fries". Decor-wise they look half way between the much chronicled cha chaan teng (local style cafes) and bustling Chinese restaurants, with a rowdy hint dai pai dong (roadside/market eateries). They've got the easy-wipe tiled floors and fluorescent lighting of the cafes, the round tables of the restaurants, sans tablecloths and napkins and the loud, shouting waiters of the markets. There are quite a few of these, mostly in densely populated areas (where in Hong Kong isn't densely populated? Um, ok, they're in more densely populated areas, close to housing complexes etc.) where they would be substitutes to dinners at home. You'd be wrong to think these are home-cooking places though, these are notorious MSG and peanut oil wonderlands.

Enough introductory natter, let's get back to this one, Kam Ho. It's in Sham Shui Po and we went because even I can get bored of T'ang Court, and my auntie, who suggested this place, had just been to Ming Court that day for lunch. (We are so, like, spoilt, omg). Seriously, we needed something different. Kam Ho is in Sham Shui Po, an area famous for several things - computer and electronics-related thingamajigs, working girls and cheap (and sometimes good) food. It's extremely densely populated and was where my grandma brought up my mom and her siblings. Appropriately, we came back with my grandma.

It was quite late by the time we got there - around 9pm, the place was packed and everything on other people's tables looked good. (Again, no one was having the namesake hotpot). The waiters were loud, but extremely friendly and gave us suggestions for what to eat. Unfortunately, as we later found out, most of the dishes they're famed for were sold out, except for these...

Chicken and shark fin soup. (Are PETA running after me?) The shark fin used here is just the odds and ends - not the classy vermicelli-like stuff, but it was good enough for me. Shark fin soup for me is always more about the soup anyway (shark fin itself has no taste). The soup had a rich, milky quality to it, probably due to the addition of chicken bones. And guess what, no sign of MSG!

Fried sticky (glutinous) rice. Not the best nor the worst I've had, but it was very popular - they almost sold out of this too - we got the last bowl.

"Jer jer" lettuce - pretty good. They served the semi-cooked lettuce in a separate plate, along with an empty heated claypot and some garlic and chilli. The lettuce was tipped into the claypot with the spices and quickly tossed around - aka "jer jer". They used baby lettuce too, which has a nice sweet core. Maybe a bit too much oil though.

Pork chops in hawthorn sauce - a flop, as you can tell by the atrocious Chinatown rouge. The waiter had suggested we get another dish called 乾烤骨 (dry roasted ribs), but they were sold out... This was quite freshly made though so the skin was still crisp when it arrived. Unfortunately the sauce sucked.

Frog fried "typhoon shelter" style - this is one of the better examples of "typhoon shelter"style (避風塘) I've had. TS basically denotes the dry, crumbly, deep-fried soil-like topping that surrounds the frog (or any other type of meat - usually crab), made up of tiny crumbs of garlic, scallions, chilli and soy bean crumbs (residue from the tofu-making process), all deep fried to a golden brown. Usually there's a lot of MSG, but this one wasn't so bad. The meat was in sizable, juicy chunks, there was a little 麻辣 (mala, ie. a numbing spiciness, a la Sichuan) from the dried chillis, as well as 'normal' spice. Their specialty is apparently scampi (or some kind og mini-lobster/gigantic prawn lookalike) made in this style (避風塘瀨尿蝦), but they were sold out of that too...

btw, that's my grandma holding the piece of frog - she held it pretty still for a full 2-3 seconds so I could take the photo - not too shabby for a soon-to-be nonagenarian!


Razor clams - that's a lot for whatever they were charging (around HK$100). Meaty and pretty fresh, they were stir-fried to order - we could totally feel the 'breath of the wok', but it did take a while for them to arrive (the kitchen did several plates at once) and by then our palates had been numbed/over-stimulated by the typhoon shelter concoction, so we didn't enjoy it as much as we should have.

There was one more thing they were famous for but had sold out that night - steamed chicken. From the huge posters on the walls, it looked like a simple, no-frills steamed chook. The skin in the photo was (of course) a glorious golden yellow... mmm. But this simple method means it all depends on the quality of the chicken - something we Cantonese are unbelievably picky about, and let me tell you, with all the bird flu scares and chilled chickens nowadays, a good chicken is hard to come by. I'll be back.

金豪肥牛豬骨煲 (Kam Ho)
17 Castle Peak Rd (opposite Garden bread factory, just off Tai Po Rd. If you're taking a cab, be sure to say that it's Castle Peak Rd in Sham Shui Po, not New Territories!)
Sham Shui Po
Hong Kong
+852 2725 6806

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  1. I wish I'd done more research before my HK trip last year! Then I might have come across places like this, and your blog...

  2. There's always next time, and here's your excuse, if you need one! :)