An amazing dining experience at a congee shop

November 03, 2017 17:35
Legendary congee maker Uncle King is running the kitchen at Foo Ka Chinese Restaurant in Quarry Bay. Photo: Google Maps/HKEJ

The closure of Lee Yuen Congee Noodles in Causeway Bay was a nightmare for congee lovers like me. Where am I supposed to go when I crave rice porridge?

The place was where I had my very first bowl of wonton noodles with my aunt when I came to Hong Kong at the age of 12.

Sadly, that heavenly taste is now just a memory. Many of the eateries of my youth are being replaced by chain stores selling luxury items, cosmetics and infant formula.

But just when I thought I would miss the best congee in town forever, star chef Ah Yat’s student Kei Gor invited the legendary congee maker Uncle King to run his kitchen at Foo Ka Chinese Restaurant in Quarry Bay.

The good news got me salivating for my favorite sliced pork liver congee with fish belly and bladder. The well-cooked and flavorful congee came in an enormous serving. The fish bladder was a cheap substitute for the nutritious fish maw but the pork liver was meaty and juicy. All these were served in a clay pot for two for only HK$70.

Though the restaurant has been listed on the Michelin Guide, Kei Gor has not raised the prices, and that's what keeps people queuing up at his eatery.

The owner humbly admits that he was quite surprised by the popularity of his restaurant, considering that it is located near a funeral parlor, and he did not expect selling noodles and congee could be such a huge success.

The other day I bumped into Kei Gor at a congee shop and he told me not to fill up my belly too soon. He invited me to have lunch with Principal Lau at Foo Ka Chinese Restaurant.

Our first order was cold-served threadfin fish with homemade soybean ginger sauce. The silk-like texture and the flavorful fish oil were simply irresistible. Then we ordered an Irish duck stewed with a decade-old tangerine peel. The duck soup was rich in both color and flavors.

The juices were mixed with noodles and served as lo mein, which made for a wondrous lunch. Principal Lau, a connoisseur of fine wine, shared with us a bottle of Burgundy.

The meal was concluded with mooncakes with red bean fillings and mandarin peels. The cakes tasted even better than last year’s version.

Now that's what I call a perfect dining experience.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 27

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

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HKEJ contributor