Hong Kong is turning out to be my equivalent of culinary school. Except all I do is eat. This is a good thing as I have no desire to know how to make fish balls as it is probably a quite horrific experience.
This might have been my third meal in Hong Kong but it was the first where I really felt at home and it all clicked. As an aside my second was a shanghaiese mistep at Lao Shang Hai in Wanchai (tip – some Chinese food just doesn’t work for solo dining). When I told my estate agent whose mission in life it was to drag me up and down steps till I dissolved in sweat that I had been to Kong Chai Kee she looked at me with horror and went “too expensive”. I shrugged and told her it cost me 23hkd (£2.10). She said fish balls should only cost 17hkd.
As is evident the local population take their food pretty damn seriously. I was a big fan of Kong Chai Kee. It reminds me of a local fryup joint you get in England. Communal benches where people huddle in but instead of reading The Sun or The Mirror as they would in London the locals in Hong Kong huddle over their bowls and concentrate on eating.
Kong Chai Kee do one dish – fish balls – with a few variations if you want to get fancy. Well of course I did so I loaded some wontons into mine. The fish balls themselves are simply reprocessed pulverized fish packed into a ball. For the price I am guessing it is not premium fish which goes into them but they were good nonetheless. When cooked they go slightly rubbery but have that same addictive taste as the crab sticks we eat in the West. The broth was simple and refreshing.
So I’ll go back but I am also keen to try other fish ball restaurants in Hong Kong. One trick I noticed from the other locals who were sitting opposite me is that they order a side of lightly steamed and blanched greens to go with it. I’ll remember that next time.
Price – 23hkd
Kau U Fong Road, Central, Hong Kong
PS – as part of my culinary education I looked up fish balls on wikipedia. In summary fish balls are made from “surimi” or “fish puree or slurry”. This is produced by mincing fish meat and then rinsing it numerous times to eliminate any smell. This is then pulverized to form a gelatinous paste to which additives such as starch, egg white, salt, MSG etc are added for flavour and texture. So, definitely one to buy not make then.