Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hung Wan Cafe & Bakery Shop

My Dear and I ate at a lot of places when we went to Hong Kong but the one place we miss the most is this bakeshop, located just across the Metropark Hotel Mongkok where we stayed. We were hooked on the place after I bought a few buns and an egg tart on a whim, and it quickly became our daily breakfast place.

The venue itself isn't really much: think old-school small Chinese restaurant complete with dingy never-been-scrubbed walls and tiles and, if they had a restroom, you'd probably not want to use it. Really a hole-in-the-wall kind of place, the kind that probably existed since the 1920s, possibly even earlier, and has never been touched by any kind of interior design. It's the kind of place that won't be on any tourist map-- the Hong Kong Tourism Board won't exactly consider its grimy interiors as the island's best representative-- but it is very popular with the locals, who we see every morning when we have breakfast. It's the kind of place that has been around forever making the same things over and over until perfection; unfortunately, cleanliness and ambience aren't among their priorities.

The staff are friendly and they try to accommodate, but they don't speak any English. The menus aren't in English either. If, like us, you don't speak a word of Chinese, ordering will be done via pointing, gestures, and, mercifully, a few common English words. In our case, that one English word was "coffee". Regular tea is served on the house. Oh, bring a jacket-- the aircon is always on full Arctic blast even if it's 20C outside.

Its menu is not so varied-- noodles, baked buns (sweet and savoury), pastries-- but the few things they make they make very well. Our favourite is what we call in Manila as Spanish bread: golden brown top with sesame seeds; perfectly chewy texture; right amount of butter, sugar, and dessicated coconut for filling. They also make great egg tart (nice crumbly crust, subtly flavoured custard) and ham and egg bun (they don't scrimp on the ham or egg)-- in fact, everything we ordered was just superb. By some mysterious method, Hung Wan got the texture of their bread just right. Hong Kong, by the way, makes great breadstuffs, and Hung Wan was the best of them all. Each order of bun or pastry costs between HKD 4 to HKD 7; the Spanish bread costs HKD 5.

The coffee, which is the only drink we knew how to order, wasn't too bad either. Each order is freshly brewed using what looks like an old cheesecloth which has seen better days and some pre-War-looking metal pitchers and steamers. Only old-school coffee making here; no espresso machines in sight. Ordering "coffee" means you're served coffee with heavy cream and sugar already mixed in. I actually prefer black coffee, but I didn't know how to order it in Chinese. In any case, the standard coffee, which costs HKD 10 a cup, is quite thick and heavy-- the closest analogue I can think of is that thick Spanish-style hot chocolate. No coffee in Starbucks has this depth of texture. It was pretty good, actually, and really picked us up for a long day of walking.

Bottomline, best bakeshop ever. If you can get over the looks of the place. Here are the scores:

Quality = 9.0
Size = 7.5
Taste = 9.5
Ambience = 2.0
Service = 6.0
Value = P406.90
Price = HKD 20 = P133.60
Sulit Rating = 2.91 > 1

Here's their address and contact info, lifted from their takeaway plastic bag:

Hung Wan Cafe & Bakery Shop
726 Shanghai St., Mongkok, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel. 2392-6038, 2393-7852

See the pictures (and this review) here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...