You wanted local food, you got local food. This totally old school place is strictly for those in the know. We’re talking about Star Cafe (星座冰室) in Tsim Sha Tsui, next to The Mira hotel.
So it was 11am on a Thursday, perfect time for brunch. Per my friend’s request, I’d looked up the top “local” cha chaan teng/bing sut place on Openrice and this was it (Note: a bing sut (冰室) is a “lite” version of a cha chaan teng (茶餐廳) that only sells snacks and drinks and no rice dishes).
Trying to find the place would deter the first wave of wannabe foodventurers; it’s down a basement of an old school single storey mall mostly selling camera gear. The stairs are pretty grimy and at the bottom there’s a poor kitty in a cage.
Then, it emerges from the gloom, like a kid’s secret hideout. A few people were sat outside in the hallway (to pretend they’re dining al fresco on a French boulevard?). The clientele was a real cross section of society, from suits to housewives to students.
The old CRT TV was blaring news and TV dramas above the entrance, while one of the staff read the morning paper in the middle table. In true greasy spoon style, a cigarette dangled from the chef’s mouth – thankfully there was a fan directed at him and the room was odour-free, and quite comfortable temperature wise actually. This isn’t something you take for granted, as HK is the city of walk-in fridges where people buy things i.e. malls.
As a good chunk of the menu is dedicated to tomato soup noodles, I chose the tomato beef and fried egg noodles (蕃茄牛肉麵, 加蛋)($27+ $3 for the egg) and my friend chose the tomato spam, sausage and egg macaroni (蕃茄餐肉通粉, 加蛋加腸仔)($27 + $3 egg + $3 sausage).To quench our thirst, we chose the classic iced lemon tea (凍檸檬茶)($13) with its purple friend, iced lemon Ribena (凍檸檬利賓納)($15). The mix and match aspect of the bing sut experience is an amusement in itself, when the waiter repeats your order he could take on any rapper! Next time, test your waiter’s memory and articulation by ordering (at high speed) something like a iced lemon tea without ice and less sugar (凍檸茶少糖走冰) and a hot lemon water with extra sugar (熱檸水多糖) and see what happens.
The drinks came first. The iced Ribena was still warm. This happens sometimes in local places. I don’t mind, it shows that HK is an efficient, can-do city…!
The main attraction showed up. My friend delightfully tucked into his hearty brunch, which had the sausages and spam cut up. Easier to swallow but I guess also easier to use less ingredients. Whatever, spam is bad for you!
I had the thicker tomato soup base though, ha! The egg was quite well-cooked, just a bit after being runny. The instant noodles and beef mostly tasted like tomato, so thankfully it was made with fresh tomatoes.
Service was friendly enough for a place like this. Final bill was $91 total or $45.50 each. The food was all right, but come to feel like a real urban explorer – just try not to look at the kitty.
Restaurant rating: NOM NOM NOM (out of five).
Address: Shop No. 36, Champagne Court, 16-20 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui 尖沙咀金巴利道16-20號香檳大廈地庫36號舖
Tel: 2724 4408
Opening hours: daily, 8am-9:30pm
Next time, after booking two months in advance, we have yum cha at 102 storeys off the ground!
What kind of food do you guys want to see? What’s your favourite local restaurant? Leave a comment below!!