Frequently visited by famous local food-critics and written up in numerous major Chinese and English magazines, Sing Kee is arguably the most popular dai pai dong in Central. With authentic local ambience, excellent food at low prices, Sing Kee is an ideal place for taking your tourist friends to enjoy the local flavors, especially when the weather is nice.
Colorful fresh ingredients lined up near the hot stoves, layers of bright green awnings and plastic shields formed bricolage and the round and square tables set randomly alfresco in the dark alley in Stanley Street together compose a picturesque scene of the traditional, yet contemporary Hong Kong. Sizzling sounds emanate from the hot woks, customers have heated chats and the waiters' loud message to the chefs orchestrate an energetic and authentic dai pai dong experience that is slowly being extinguished in this ever-changing city.
Sing Kee is at the far end of the alley. At 6.30pm, the place is not very packed yet. Upon arrival, the waitress leads us to a small table for three. Not long after we sit down and start to browse our menu, the beer girl comes over. We asked her what options we have and expect Tsing Tao to be on the list. It is. However, she insists that San Miguel is on promotion. “Tsing Tao, please.” “But San Miguel is really much cheaper, and coolest here, and ………” We can’t really say no. For non-Chinese speakers you can always play dumb if beer is really a big thing for you – but you may miss a lot for not speaking Cantonese though.
In Sing Kee, the best seafood dishes are never on the menu. Ask the owner/waiter for their daily specials and he will suggest you some dishes according to what are the freshest. If you do not speak Chinese, look around and get reference from the table at which the customers and waiters are chatting to and giving each other a brotherly pat on the shoulder. They always get the best stuff. They even get glasses for the beer while you only get plastic ones.vIn fact, we ask the beer lady for some glasses and she says they are limited (to the "VIPS" perhaps).
Today we ask for the recommendation from the waiter and he suggests Clams Fried with Hot Pepper, Chicken Congee, Mixed Vegetables Stir-fried with Garlic, Beef Stir-fried with Choi-sum, Stir-Fried Tofu and Squid Stir-fried with Bitter Melon. The dai pai dong signature, Clams Fried with Hot Pepper, according to the waiter, is “fresh from the sea”. Indeed, he is not lying. It is very fresh, sweet and richly flavored with the pickled soy bean and hot chili pepper. Our favorite has to be Stir-Fried Tofu which is skillfully done. Unlike tofu dishes in other dai pai dongs which are usually deep-fried, the one here is stir-fried. Therefore, the tofu cubes are just very slightly golden brown and crispy on the outside but soft and moist inside. We imagine it must be very hard to make this dish as the tofu would burn very easily or it wouldn’t maintain the cubed shape when it is stir-fried. The dish is also nicely seasoned with a special kind of salt which is mixed with 5 powdered spices and is perfect to be eaten with the chicken congee, or simply plain congee. Beef Stir-fried with Choi-sum and Squid Stir-fried with Bitter Melon come together hot. The beef is very tender. The waiter claims that they only use fresh beef and they don’t keep leftovers. That’s why it is so fresh and its texture soft. Squid Stir-fried with Bitter Melon is equally good and each ingredient cooked just in the right time so the squid is not too tough and bitter melon not too soft. The only thing we have to complain about is that the mixed veggie is a bit too oily.
All these food and beer combined are just around $250 only. We jokingly tease ourselves who just had a round of happy hour cocktails in Finds – same price. While the summer heat and humidity hasn’t hit Hong Kong in this June yet, it’s really the best time to pay a visit to this legendary establishment.