The third floor of Mong Kok’s Fa Yuen Street Market is home to a hidden-in-plain-sight food court and Stall 12, Mui Kee Congee. The owners sell springy Steamed Rice Rolls and crispy Fire Bread (aka fried dough sticks), but the main event is Congee with Grass Fish, featuring supple white carp slices with red rims luxuriating in warm, silky rice porridge. The fish contains bones, so be careful not to puncture your cheek. If you’re out for offal, know that Mui Kee doesn’t list cuts like skin, fin and head meat on the menu, but they usually have a limited amount on hand, so be sure to request some.
MUST ORDER: Fire Bread, Steamed Rice Roll, Congee with Grass Fish
This small Mong Kok cafe features tiny brown cushioned booths where four people pile into seats built for two. Meaty mise en place is right by the window and every bowl of congee is made to order. Rice porridge comes with surprisingly luxurious sliced abalone, plus more pedestrian proteins like pig parts and fish. They also have noodles, braised noodles, and “snacks,” which are basically proteins or greens, minus rice, but let’s talk congee. At Nathan, one of the city’s better known congee specialists, rice grains just start to dissolve in boiling water and mesh well with the aforementioned fish, plus sliced pork, pork stomach, kidney or soft beef meatballs. Fried Flour Sticks, airy scissor cut donuts, dip beautifully in the congee.
MUST ORDER: Congee with Pig Kidney and Sliced Fish, Congee with Mixed, Fried Flour Stick
11. Po’s Atelier (70 Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan, 852 6056 8005)
Ad man Vincent Cheng and Beijing based architect Jonathan Leijonhufvud, who met at met at London College of Communications, transformed a quiet corner of Po Hing Fong into a culinary destination, beginning with a bakery called Po’s Atelier, and ending with adjacent Cafe Deadend. Po’s Atelier features clean white walls, a wood display case and open kitchen. Bread and pastries are ostensibly French, but have uniquely local ingredients, including an Oolong Fig loaf (baked with oolong tea seed oil from Yunnan, oolong leaf and two types of dried figs); and Jambon Yunnan, a pretzel-like bread studded with four year-old-ham from a local farmer. They do sell some classics as well, including baguette and pain au chocolat.
MUST ORDER: Pain au Chocolat, Bostock, Jambon Yunnan, Fromage
12. Ronin (8 On Wo Lane, Central, 852 2547 5263)
Matt Abergel and partner Lindsay Jang drew international acclaim with their chicken-centric Hong Kong yakitori concept, Yardbird. For their encore, they went small in Sheung Wan, as in 14 seats, a stand-up counter, no sign, and modern Japanese cuisine made with local ingredients. Ronin lists Raw, Smaller and Bigger plates from lightest to heaviest, and all but two dishes involve seafood or vegetables. They may have Hong Kong’s largest Japanese whisky selection, and said spirits factor into six highballs, each with a different garnish.
MUST ORDER: Sardine, Triggerfish, Flower Crab, Suntory Kakubin Highball