A table heaving with just some of the many dishes that
my party of twelve had for dinner this evening!
One of my favorite dishes of the night:
deep fried prawns coated with salty duck egg yolk! :b
One of two desserts we were served:
baked tapioca custard pudding! :)
In Shek Kip Mei, there's a thoroughfare called Tai Po Road which runs all the way from this section of New Kowloon to that old market town in the New Territories. Deep inside a building whose main entrance is on Tai Po Road is an old school dining establishment called -- for some reason -- Central Restaurant despite it being located quite a bit aways from the Central District.
Founded in 1963 and serving traditional Cantonese and Hakka fare, it is the kind of restaurant which you need to dine at with a large group. One reason is because its dishes tend to be on the large and substantial side. For another, when you go with many other people, you then can order a variety of dishes and sample a lot more of them than if you went alone or with just one or two other friends.
With our party being 12 in number this evening, I knew that I'd be able to try a bunch of dishes at the dinner. Even so, I must admit to being on the shocked side when the decision was made for us to order 12 different dishes -- which turned out to be 13 in total since, unbeknownst to us, the restaurant also hands out complimentary bowls of sweet green bean soup for dessert!
As it turned out, I think we did justice to the food served. Put another way, we actually weren't overwhelmed by the amount of food that came to our table -- though I did worry early on when I saw the size of the first three dishes we were served. As it turned out though, they actually happened to be the largest dishes we were served all evening; with pretty much everything else being a fair bit smaller in size than the eight treasures duck (i.e., duck stuffed with lotus seeds and presumably seven other ingredients!), the top-priced (at HK$300) whole salt baked chicken, and the heaping -- and, actually, really delicious -- bowl of pig's stomach, dried beancurd sheets and gingko nut soup that got our dinner going.
Among the dishes that followed were familiar items like Hakka-style stewed pork belly with preserved mustard greens and old Cantonese favorite, sweet and sour pork, but also unfamiliar dishes like a mainly egg white affair which, upon investigation, also contained crab and prawn meat. If pushed to name a favorite dish of the night, that last dish may well be it -- though other strong contenders would be the deep fried prawns coated with salty duck egg yolk (even though, if truth be told, I prefer the version served up by Tung Po over Central Restaurant's) and the baked tapioca custard pudding that I ended tonight's feast with two servings of!
Before the bill was handed out, a couple other members of the dinner party and I were discussing what we considered the meal to be worth. Having decided that it'd be a bargain at HK$200 per person, still okay value at HK$250 per head but overpriced if we had to pay HK$300 each, we were very pleased as well as surprised to find that the total damage actually came out to just HK$140 per person!
When looking at the bill, it was discovered that the two most expensive dishes by quite a long chalk were the salt baked chicken (HK$300) and eight treasures duck (HK$250). Interestingly, the general conclusion was that the highest priced dish of the night was actually one of the least tasty. So if we were to return to eat again at Central Restaurant, we'd substitute the chicken and duck dishes for a couple of other options -- and maybe end up with a bill of less than HK$100 for what, at least in terms of quantity, really is quite the feast! ;b