HK 2013 : Yuen Long, The Village That Was …November 30, 2013 | 5,341 views
Sub-chapter of the 2013 Hong Kong and Macau Getaway
Yuen Long; in the New Territories of Hong Kong is well-known for the ‘lou por peng’ (wife cakes or sweetheart cakes; a sweet confection made up of flaky pastry encasing within winter melon and almond paste) but rarely listed in guide books for visitors to Hong Kong
This time around, we have decided to at least venture out of the bustling city of Hong Kong. Contemplating between Cheung Chau, Lamma Island and Yuen Long, we settled for an obvious choice. And a lazy one; Yuen Long.
Situated to the west of New Territories, Yuen Long thankfully is still very accessible by MTR. From Mong Kok, we took the red line (towards Tsuen Wan) and change to West Rail Line at Mei Foo. From Mei Foo, Yuen Long is just 3 stations away. The entire trip from Mong Kok to Yuen Long took us less than half an hour.
We started off the detour (a derailed tour?) with a visit to Yuen Long Old Town, followed by lunch at Tai Wing Wah Restaurant (by the celebrity chef Hugo Leung also affectionately known as ‘Tou Tou’), then ending up with boxes of ‘lou por peng’ (wife cakes) to bring home.
Yuen Long Old Town – The myriad of designs from different eras in progress. Yuen Long has undergone much development over the past years, to a point of slowly de-humanizing the village life that Yuen Long has been known for. Did you know that the ‘pun choi‘ (basin of incredibly sinful food shared amongst families and neighbours) is really famous here as well?
Exiting from Yuen Long station Exit A, we looked out for signboards leading to Yuen Long Old Town. This older area of Yuen Long is named Yuen Long Kau Hui or old area, and the main street of Cheung Shing Street runs between Nam Pin Wai and Sai Pin Wai. Almost immediately upon exiting from the station, we could already sensed the jarring difference between Yuen Long and Mong Kok or Central.
The crowd was almost non-existent and the air was well, slightly fresher. It could have been placebo effect but when the paths are lined with pots of flowers pruned and colourful, and bicycles chained to the fence indicating the preferred mode of transport for commuters to city centre, it speaks volumes.
Life goes on at Yuen Long Old Town – the narrow alleys and residences constructed from bricks are elements unchanged from the days of yore. There is this sense of tranquility in the air, without a pressing need to actually rush on anything.
It goes without saying that we were the only tourists there, attracting stares and curious looks from the locals. One uncle even commented on us wearing shorts – everyone’s decked in sweaters and long pants given the drop in temperature that morning.
Whereas in Hong Kong you see red cabs (if you haven’t seen from the TVB dramas or movies, then well … I rest my case), in Yuen Long, the cabs serving the routes are painted green. And charging slightly lesser, apparently.
A giant dragonfly? Or an electrical cable supplementing the needs of the neighbourhood?
Two temples are the landmarks in Yuen Long old town; this one juxtaposed against a back drop of Chung Sing School is named Yuen Kwan Yi Tai Temple, while the one nearer to the main road is named Tai Wong Temple
Life in Yuen Long – Still craving for that village life where there used to be dreams beyond monetary gains
Tai Wing Wah Restaurant is the highlight of the trip here; and worth a try even if you’re feeling full from the multitude of meals over in central Hong Kong.
If you love Chinese food shows on TV, you must have seen this jolly rotund fellow named “Tou Tou” or real name Hugo Leung (Read his favourite food picks here) eating like there’s no tomorrow. Yes, he runs Tai Wing Wah although rarely seen in the restaurant these days.
His signature item includes the artery-clogger of a delicious horror named Chu Yau Lou Fan; literally translated to a steaming hot claypot of white rice to be mixed with superior soy sauce and lard oil. Yes, sounds like a cardiac arrest in the making yet everyone’s flocking for a taste. Bear in mind that, the rice is only served for DINNER only, while for breakfast you can have dim sum or like us after 11am, brunch with plain white rice complemented by excellent village cuisine, or so they termed.
5 Flavour Chicken – Braised in a beautiful soy sauce and five spice powder mix (really, really good stuff), the chicken has a glistening layer of skin without much fat underneath, and the meat was succulent to the bite. (HKD78/RM32/USD11 per portion)
Steamed Ma Lai Gou (Malay cakes) here is very different from the usual dim sum places. Sporting a sunshine yellow aesthetic, and steaming hot in a large basket (HKD78/RM32/USD11), the cake was utterly delicious with a very strong fragrance from eggs and lightly sweetened. Though it’s highly recommended that you share this among 4 pax at least.
We also sampled the Steamed Pumpkin with Scallions and Fried Shallots (HKD78/RM32/USD11) that was of melt in mouth texture. A bit overpriced for this one, I have to admit. The crowd was a mix of elderly, and families having dim sum for breakfast. It was a Monday morning.
The man on the right is “Tou Tou” or Hugo Leung, while the left celebrity is Martin Yan. This was years ago, btw.
We had to share a table with the locals, understandably. And this man, who’s a retiree and an ex-policeman told us so many interesting stories about the civil service in Hong Kong, aspirations for the new Hong Kong, the struggle of the younger generations due to stiff competition and well, food stories of course. It was a pleasant brunch, and they obliged with an English menu without much shame now. There are so many other interesting dishes that we wished to order but just couldn’t. Tai Wing Wah has a branch in Wan Chai though, so you can try their fares on Hong Kong island as well.
The bustling city scene along Castle Peak Road in Yuen Long New Town. We walked to here, within mere minutes though you can also take the Light Rail (imagine Sheung Wan’s tram) that runs along the main road.
Well, this was the main reason we were in Yuen Long anyway. Hang Heung Cake Shop; the famous brand for Lou Por Peng on the main road of Castle Peak Road, shop number 66.
They also sell egg rolls in various flavours; original, honey, green tea and more. We bought the smallest pack size; HKD38/RM16/USD5 for 10’s to be distributed as souvenirs.
The Lou Por Peng (wife cakes) are sold at boxes of 6’s or more. Average of HKD38 or so for 6, about RM2 – 3 per piece. And it’s definitely worth a try; the flaky pastry crumbles between bites, while the filling was a soft, almost gooey paste of winter melon and almond paste, that was neither too sweet or overwhelmingly bland. But they do have branches on Nathan Road in Mong Kok, Sogo in Causeway Bay and also Sogo in Tsim Sha Tsui.
The factory is in Yuen Long as well, but we did not visit. It’s located on Shap Pat Heung Road (you can refer to their website for more information, although everything’s in Chinese)
And that ended our brief sojourn to Yuen Long, before making our way back to the city for more FOOD adventures. I may come back for the missed Lard Oil Mixed Rice @ Tai Wing Wah, and spend more time in the other parts of town. B-Boy Grass Jelly desserts at Kei Kee Desserts was a miss as we could not fathom the thought of another meal in Yuen Long after the succession of feasts.
TAI WING WAH RESTAURANT
2/F, Koon Wong Mansion, 2-6 On Ning Road,
Opens daily from 6.45am – 11.30pm
HANG HEUNG CAKE SHOP
66, Castle Peak Road,
Opens Mon – Sat (9am – 6pm)
Here’s the HONG KONG & MACAU 2013 FOOD MAP (updated)