Restaurant reviews

Hong Kong: A taste of history at Tai Ping Koon

Hong Kong is a city that seemingly blends the latest glitzy high rise with a far older flat block in an almost seamless manner. Yet while it is fantastic to see how the city is developing, to truly understand what underpins current developments you need to be able to have an understanding of the past. For this reason we chose to visit one of the oldest restaurants in Hong Kong: Tai Ping Koon.

Sitting in the middle of Granville Road, just a few hundred meters away from the famous and relentlessly modern Nathan Road, the outside of Tai Ping Koon is not the kind of exterior that might naturally get a foodie to head inside as it appears fairly similar to many of the more ‘tourist trap’ restaurants in this area.

That said, we were armed with our Fodor’s guide that had promised us a veritable feast should we head inside, so we took the plunge!

With the food inside being famed for the way it helped shape the ‘soy sauce’ style dishes that now grace many of Hong Kong’s restaurants we knew that the food would not be the same as some of the ultra traditional dishes on our foodie tour.

Despite this more fusion style of cooking these dishes also helped to create famous dishes such as ‘Swiss’ chicken wings that are now incredibly popular across the city.

Offering great value for a brilliant cheap eat, the discounted lunch menu also offered a wide range of choices and included two of the most popular dishes on the main menu. We ordered one of each and then shared them.

The dishes we ordered were the ‘Swiss’ chicken wings and an aromatic rice noodle with beef dish that really did show off the ‘soy sauce’ style of cooking.

As well as this, as part of the lunch deal, I got a crisp fresh salad with an excellent dressing and my wife enjoyed a fresh and hearty sweetcorn soup. These dishes whetted our appetites for the main event.

For those of you wondering what on earth ‘Swiss’ chicken wings are don’t be alarmed at the thought of some awful cheese and soggy wings idea! The reality of the dish is in fact a lovely sweet and sour sauce with crisp, succulent wings that offers a great comparison with some of the fattier and less appealing American varieties.

It is in fact suggested that the name came from a misunderstanding between a tourist visiting Hong Kong and a waiter over the pronunciation of sweet and sour sauce!

The beef with rice noodles was everything I had hoped for – hearty, aromatic succulent beef that went beautifully well with perfectly cooked rice noodles. Simply put, it was divine.

Of course at this point we already had smiles on our faces and full stomachs from a tasty lunch but these smiles became broader when looking at the low price of the bill that showed Tai Ping Koon is not only a great treat but also a cheap eat.

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