Tung Po Kitchen is a “dai pai dong” (HK version of street stall/hawker) that has moved indoors. They are officially called cooked food centers and housed inside the top floors of concrete municipal buildings, the lower floors are devoted to markets. We decided to give Tung Po Kitchen located in the Java Road Municipal services building in North Point a try because it was one of the places Anthony Bourdain visited in his show No Reservations.
We did not have a reservation so we had to wait quite a bit as the restaurant was jam packed and we got there at around 7:30pm. There’s a waiting area outside in the open air veranda, good thing it did not rain.
Tung Po Kitchen is owned by rockstar Chef Robby Cheung, an animated hands on owner who seemingly has boundless energy. Taking orders from one table then horsing around with guests from another table, then moving on to toasting beer mugs at another table all the while running the restaurant with a flair all his own.
Once you finish ordering, the staff will give you some hot tea and a stainless steel bowl to wash your utensils, bowls and cups.
Tung Po Kitchen is not the cleanest restaurant around but it’s a place full of energy with loud music plus servers in wellington boots moving around.
Seeing a lot of tables order beer had us doing the same. We got a bottle of Kirin which they served in bowls, something I’ve seen in period Chinese movies, felt very bandit like.
We were intrigued with what constituted half a Wind Sand Chicken (HK$160 or P905). It is basically crispy chicken flavored with sand ginger or galangal. The skin was super crispy but some of the pieces were a bit bland.
Razor Clam in Original style (Black Bean, Chili and Garlic). This was Irene’s favorite of the night and went really well with the beer. The clams were really fresh and juicy and a balance of salty and spicy. This would have gone spectacularly well with plain rice to better absorb the flavor.
Steamed Clams with Wine in Lotus Leaf. This dish started out enticing us with its aroma then before releasing its sweet flavors into our mouths. I loved it and practically finished it all since Irene was more partial to the chewier textures of the razor clams.
Fried Rice with Duck Sauce in Lotus Leaf (HK$90 or P509). I have this thing for rice wrapped in lotus leaf so I could not resist ordering this. In hindsight we should have gotten plain rice instead. The serving size is really big, it can probably serve 4-5 people. The rice was so good, it’s a shame we could not have it wrapped. The strong flavors of the duck seeped into the rice making it a great eat even on its own.
Despite being super busy running the restaurant, Chef Robby readily agreed to my request for a photo.
Food at Tung Po Kitchen was good but the atmosphere and the experience even more so. Despite sitting on plastic chairs, music in the air, enticing aroma from all the dishes and watching the energy of Chef Robby rubbing off on his staff, this is what a meal at Tung Po feels like. You might be able to get better food elsewhere but this is an experience I’m happy to have crossed off my list.