White rubber wellies and squid ink pasta

Posted on March 13, 2006 by Aun

One of the great things about having lifestyle journalists as friends is that they’re always sussing out new or cool places to check out. This includes a variety of things, like spas, boutiques, hotels, and of course restaurants and cafes. This past evening, I had the pleasure of tagging along with one such arbiter of taste and style. SS has been one of the more well-known and respected lifestyle writers here in Hong Kong for years. Tonight, she brought me, her brother and sister-in-law and a visiting photographer to a rather cool, obviously popular and decidedly local dai pai dong located in the North Point Market in Hong Kong. One of the reasons SS chose to bring us here was because of an assignment; she needed to interview the dai pai dong’s owner for a magazine she’s putting together for a client. The other reason was because she knew that all of us would appreciate this humble but very happening eatery.

Tung Po Sea Food Restaurant is run by the enthusiastic and ridiculously friendly Mr. Robby Cheung (pictured above). Robby took over this café from his father some 13 years ago. He told us that back then, the place was miserable and he needed to put everything he had into turning the business around. That meant both the experience of having worked in the hotel industry most of his life but also as much capital as he could raise—which at the time meant selling his apartment. Fortunately, today, Tung Po Sea Food Restaurant is packed every night and from what we could see, Robby is both a successful and happy man.

The food at Tung Po Sea Food is pretty interesting. Despite looking like your typical Hong Kong food stall, it’s not quite Cantonese. Robby has taken dishes and flavors from foods he enjoys from across China and all over the world and has adapted them, adjusting them to his own tastes. For examples, one of his more popular dishes is cuttlefish cooked in squid ink with noodles—obviously a riff on the famous Venetian pasta dish. He also serves up deep fried pig trotters, something you’d easily find on menus in Germany. These trotters, though, have been braised prior to being fried and are served with a lovely soy sauce-based dressing on the side. In addition to the very delicious squid ink pasta and trotters, we had some more traditional Chinese dishes. We had prawns fried in salted duck egg yolk, sea mantis served in a style similar to Teochew cold crab, bean curd skin sautéed with fresh broccoli, fish fried with black pepper and mountains of garlic, noodles fried with soy sauce and served with homemade XO sauce, and an old cucumber soup. Overall, the food was good. Some dishes like the trotters, surprisingly the squid ink pasta and the soup were excellent. Others were good but not great. The fish was slightly over fried, but the flavor of the garlic and pepper was wonderful. The noodles were nice but the XO sauce, while good, certainly wasn’t the best I’ve ever tasted. The sea mantis was a little odd. Teochew cold crab is served with a slightly sweet and sour dipping sauce. Robby didn’t serve his mantis with anything, which in my opinion was a mistake. It would have benefited enormously from an additional flavor or two. The bean curd dish was okay and the prawns were a little bland but very well fried.

The overall experience, though, was great fun. The restaurant is situated on the 2nd floor of a neighborhood market. It’s noisy, bright, and crowded. Beer is poured in bowls and customers sit on uncomfortable plastic stools around collapsible round tables. Robby, charming fellow that he is, is fabulously shod with customized white rubber boots, a dress shirt, a fleece vest, rolled up jeans and an apron.

If you’re looking for an edible slice of the real Hong Kong, with its ability to assimilate all kinds of tastes and cultures, in all its brash boyishness and loud frivolity, this is it.

Tung Po Sea Food Restaurant
2nd Floor, Cooked Food Centre
99, Java Road, North Point
Tel: 2880 9339
open 530pm-1230am

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. Matt Armendariz March 14, 2006 at 2:23 am

    Oh, to be on your side of the planet enjoying this right now.

    I believe I am drooling!

  2. Lil March 14, 2006 at 6:47 pm

    what wonderful life you are enjoying indeed! i’m very envious, and what wouldn’t i give to be in asia right now…

  3. linsy March 15, 2006 at 4:53 pm

    Not really anything to do with this post. Please help me thanks S (and of course to you Chubby Hubby) for recommending me to Spin in SH. I luv their pottery and can’t wait to use those plates at home.

  4. Anonymous March 15, 2006 at 7:02 pm

    love the photography and style of writing! really nice dogs too :)

  5. DBrane March 15, 2006 at 8:58 pm

    The noodles in the photo only comes with vegetables?

  6. Nha March 16, 2006 at 12:27 am

    I’ve always wanted to go to HK to try out those good restaurants!

    Oh, I ordered some of the cookbooks (3 to be exact) that you mentioned in your posts. Think like a Chef is great so far! Thanks for the reference. I hope you would have a post on your collection of cookbooks one of these days. ;)

  7. Zara's Mama March 16, 2006 at 6:37 pm

    The noodle looks devine! And the owner cool!

  8. slym July 8, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    Hi CH,

    I went over to the place just last week and absolutely loved some of the food that they serve as well……..Crispy Skin Chicken, Steamed Glutinous Rice with Lotus leaf & Duck Jus…………..

    BTW, one small typo, the tel # should be +852 2880 9399 :)

  9. Sara April 22, 2008 at 6:30 am

    Oh gosh, you are soo lucky. Just reading your post has made me drool. And just loving those white customised wellies..very snazzy!

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