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Fish Ball Kong Chai Kee in Central, Hong Kong

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.

6 Comments

  1. Mr Noodles

    Fish balls are my favourite and yes they are a bitch to make. My Dad sometimes makes his own and after chopping the fish up, he 'throws' the chopped fish onto the side of a big mixing bowl until it breaks down further. This throwing technique gives the fishballs their springiness.

    Also keep your eye out for cuttlefish balls (mat-yu dan) and the fishballs with a minced pork filling (Fuzhou fishballs).

    BTW – this post is dated 26 June for some reason

  2. Lizzie

    God I love fish balls, however processed they might be. Have you had curried ones from a hawker stall on a stick yet?

  3. Dan H

    And you don't want to know what surimi is made of… A friend of mine has a diploma from the "Massy-Palaiseau School of Surimi" (I'm serious as well) and I won't get into the details, but thank god they taste good…

  4. G

    Lizzie is right! You've got to try the curried fish balls and steamed shu mai from the hawker stalls… HK street food… there are quite a few of those in Mongkok

  5. Greedy Diva

    I am loving your Hong Kong adventures – keep them coming!

  6. Tom

    Mr Noodles – oh god. I don't think I could even be in a room whilst they are being made. What I find really interesting is that they are smell- less when done. Quite incredible really. Thanks for the date tip. Blogger playing silly.

    Lizzie – I haven't! Work is barely letting me out to eat atm. I keep meaning to go up to Temple Street market and go on an outdoor food fiesta there soon.

    Dan H – I just googled and that seems to be in Versailles… A very fancy fish ball making destination. Am impressed.

    G – I promise I will go. Hopefully one night this week work permitting. If not there is a place on the street near my house which has a vat of bubbling stuff that I might delve in.

    Greedy Diva – glad you are enjoying them. Is strange to be in a city where you don't ever revisit something or have "classics" to go to.

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