Monday, October 07, 2013

How to order lunch in Kowloon without having to speak Chinese Cantonese

We arrived in Hong Kong slightly after 10 in the morning and after breezing through immigration, we picked up our baggage and queued at the ATM in the airport lobby to withdraw money. Unfortunately the ATM vomitted my bank card? Huh. I tried again, same thing happened. I was rabid, in distress; this is my biggest nightmare when travelling. Nevertheless, I will post a separate entry about my banking troubles in Asia, yes, not just in Hong Kong. We then debated which transportation method is best to take and we made the decision based on the most convenient option—the cab.

It took approximately 30 minutes’ drive from the airport to downtown Kowloon where our hotel is located. I picked Kowloon as our base because it is the heart of the real Hong Kong, however, there are other factors playing in the criteria as well, which I will later mention in a separate post.

At the hotel we were told that our room is only available after 2PM and since it is past 11AM, we all decided it is time for lunch. But I’m not going to eat at the hotel. I mean, I am in Hong Kong, why should I eat at a hotel when the whole city smells like a savory kitchen? So off we went searching for the local taste of Hong Kong.

And we found this restaurant. We have no idea what the English name is of this restaurant because everything is in Chinese characters. My sister understands Mandarin but not Cantonese though.

Some Unknown Chinese Restaurant in Mong Kok, Kowloon 
(Along Mongkok Road near Fa Yuen Street)

My mom has mobility concerns, so when it comes to sightseeing and choosing places to eat and stay, they must be accessible and not too far for her to walk to. This is always the rule when travelling with my mom, but in this holiday we encouraged her to walk a little bit more than usual as it is good for her health.

Which brings me to this unknown Chinese restaurant in Mong Kok, Kowloon. Now our hotel is located beside the mall (the hotel reception) and on top of the mall (the hotel rooms), so when we passed by the shopping mall lobby, I overheard my parents say to each other, ‘There must be a restaurant somewhere in here?’ and that quickly caught up in my radar. I begged, seriously, everyone NOT to consider lunching in the mall. I mean, I did not succumb to eating at the hotel even, and now I will eat inside a mall? A MALL in Hong Kong did you say?! God forbid on my first day in Hong Kong!!! You know, we can do this in the Philippines easily and don’t have to waste time, money and effort flying over to Hong Kong to just eat inside a mall. *horrified*

Anyway, everyone somehow agreed with me, and so they indulged me.

This unknown Chinese restaurant was the first restaurant we saw when we stepped out of the lift of the walkway on Mongkok Road. It smelled good from the outside and looked full, so that is always a good sign.

How to order in Chinese Cantonese?

That is the question of the day, haha! Because the menu is in Chinese, and the waitress attending to us does not speak a word of English, and when we asked her—‘English Menu?’, she nodded her head albeit blankly and disappeared into the kitchen and never came back. For the next 10 minutes we were completely ignored by all the waitresses, and I can only surmise that gossip spread like wildfire between the servers to avoid our table because none of them spoke a word of this exquisite language that is English. Fine, I am in Kowloon and I am not going to bitch about it.

So we concocted a plan. Since the menu doesn’t really show pictures of all the food, we started spying on what our neighbours were eating, and which dishes seem to to tickle our palate’s fancy. Great plan!

Just as we were rounding up our choices, the manager, or perhaps he was the owner, came to our table to finally get our order. It seems that our table was escalated to management because not a single waitress dared to speak to us anymore, haha. The manager spoke a wee bit English but to make things easier and faster, we decided to level up and meet him halfway. By communicating with our hands, arms and facial expressions. What a brilliant idea. So we pointed enthusiastically to the dishes of our neighbouring tables =)

Here are the Chows...

A few minutes later the food arrived.

This is braised pork with fermented black beans for my dad. 

I was hankering for some noodle soup so I had beef noodles and I added some real spicy chilli. 

My mom has another type of noodle soup. Something like Pochero.

SisterJ just wants to have some rice with seafood, so she went for the Yang Chow Fried Rice with Shrimps.

My rating? 4 stars out of 5. Good Chinese food that makes you feel good and warm in the belly.

I think this is a good start of our Hong Kong trip I should say. We have managed to order lunch in a local Chinese restaurant without speaking English. We have had authentic chows for our first meal. I would not mind coming back for that noodle soup for example. I mean, we did good so far...

In Kowloon, many people do not speak a word of English, whereas in Hong Kong Island you will encounter many locals who do. Over the years, Kowloon has become home to many mainland Chinese migrants who do not speak any other language other than Cantonese or their native Chinese dialect.

Travel Period: August 2013
Destination: Kowloon Peninsula, Hong Kong SAR

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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