I woke up on Sunday with an urge to do something I’ve never done before. We hardly ever visit the eastern side of Hong Kong island, unless it’s to go to Director’s Club to watch a movie (leather reclining seats, they take your order while you sit, free hot dogs, free flow popcorn and soft drinks!), or to buy Japanese products at Uny. I had been hearing talk of Lei Yue Mun for the past week, and have been meaning to visit the East Island Market for some time now. In the spirit of adventure, we mapped out our plan for the day.
We caught the ferry from Sai Wan Ho Ferry Pier to Sam Ka Tsuen (check here for ferry timetable). At HK$6, it is a great way to experience a journey across the harbour, on a Kai-To ferry. There are only a handful of routes still served by the Kai-To on Hong Kong island.
We left the Sai Wan Ho Ferry pier, and after a short 10 minute journey, we exchanged this skyline ….
for this one …
You arrive at the gate of Lei Yue Mun, just a short 4 minute stroll away from the Sam Ka Tsuen ferry pier.
We walked through the narrow street of restaurants, pass the Chinese pastry vendor, the fish tanks, a local 士多, until we reached Lung Tang Restaurant at the very end. We dined by the water, and enjoyed the peace and quite (once we had gotten over the subtle stench of the nearby sewage pipe). Lung Tang Restaurant doesn’t have its own seafood tanks, so you purchase your seafood at one of the vendors near the entrance of the restaurant, and Lung Tang charges a small cooking fee to whip it into a feast for you.
After being shown to our seats, we were then ushered to the fish tanks to choose our seafood at Ting Kee Seafood, aided by the very smiley Mrs. Yuen.
This handsome and quite hefty fella, our Philippine lobster, was soon to be our lunch.
In Cantonese cuisine, the Mantis Shrimp is also known as ‘pissing shrimp’, or laaih niu ha, because of their tendency to shoot out a jet of water when they are picked up. An unsavory name, but a very savory dish! The flesh is quite firm once cooked, and more similar to that of lobster than shrimp – always a favorite for a seafood meal. That fried garlic/chili topping is heavenly by itself on a bowl of steamed rice!
I really love the consistency and taste of yee-mien, or E-Fu noodles, a flat Cantonese egg noodle. They have this almost spongy texture, which is due to the fact that carbonated water is used when making the dough. When I was researching which restaurant to visit in the morning, I saw that many of the restaurants in Lei Yue Mun serve this dish, some of them baked with cheese sauce (Hong Kong restaurants love to serve things with cheese sauce, for some reason). Not my thing at all, so we went for the traditional recipe instead. The lobster is stir-fried with garlic and scallion (but in this case, onions) and poured over a bed of boiled e-fu noodles – it really lets the lobster shine! Our lobster was particularly meaty and we enjoyed peeling off the flesh from the shell without too much difficulty.
As there were only three of us eating, we only chose a small snapper. Despite it’s size, it was quite meaty and not too bony, and steamed perfectly.
The end of dau miu (pea shoots) season is looming, and so we must have as much dau miu as possible! I order it with every meal, such a wonderful leafy vegetable with no stalk, delicately crisp and flavorful – when I cook it at home myself, very little seasoning is needed to make it taste amazing. They topped this dish with bamboo shoots and opposed to the usual dried ham slivers, adding an extra layer of crunch.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable meal, a little bit more homestyle than some of the restaurants you find in Lamma or Sai Kung. I was a bit surprised when the bill came however, and that the total for the three of us came to $1699! The seafood is charged separately, and a cooking charge of HK$300 was added on top by the restaurant. I thought the cooking charge was completely reasonable, their service was so attentive, friendly and always with a smile. They also made sure to change our plates whenever they got too messy, and cleared our table entirely when we were finished to make room for the complementary fruit (three halved papayas on this occasion). Certainly, much better than your average seafood restaurant experience.
But $1,100 was a tad pricey for the seafood, don’t you think? $315 for two mantis shrimp? I was left wondering if we were charged gweilo prices, but considering I was speaking Cantonese with them most of the time (my food-related vocabulary surprises even me sometimes!), they must have known that we were local gweilos … For a first time experience, we were okay with paying that price. However, the next time I go back, I’m going to make a point of making sure that we’re not being taken for tourists!
Full and satiated, we took the ferry back to Sai Wan Ho and were of to our next stop, the Island East Market in Quarry Bay. The market is now a permanent fixture, and has stalls with organic Hong-Kong grown produce, arts and crafts baked goods and food products, to name a few.
Our first stop was Moving Coffee for an espresso. Served piping hot, we could either opt for the blended espressos/lattes, or go for the specialty single blends.
These strawberries were so bright they called to us from across the market! Grown right here in Fan Ling and picked that morning at 3am to be brought to the market for our consumption, they were so fragrant and sweet. Buy one punnet (HK$80) and get one free, these strawberries are seasonal and will only be this good until April.
To find out more about the vendors at Island East Market, which change regularly, check out their website.
We then set off back home, eager to eat our strawberries, and to blog about the day!
Lung Tang Restaurant
Address: G/F, 1-2 Hoi Pong Rd Central, Lei Yu Mun
Island East Market
Address: Tong Chong Street, TaiKoo Place, Quarry Bay