Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Gentrified Neighborhood

Just a few weeks ago we bemoaned the closure of TAP (The Ale Project in full), one of the pioneer gastro-pub specializing in local brews, when the original lease was not renewed but glad to know they re-opened shortly after at a shop just down the street from its original location on Hak Po Street, which has been gentrified to a somewhat hipster block thanks to a few restaurants and cafes opening in the last few years.  

We popped by the place on Saturday afternoon with a lesser and civilized crowd (at nights the waiting line easily overflew into the street). The difference between the new and old shop was hardly noticeable except a different address, with the seating area in front with low and high tables, then the bar at the back with more than a dozen selections available on tap and listed on the blackboard right next to the bar. 

Their menu has changed somewhat though - my old favorite of Southern Po'boy with "Jiu Yim" prawns was no longer on the menu but instead there's a few other choices of sandwiches plus a few bar snacks. Among them my favorite was their crispy wings with additive fermented tofu dip, grilled whole corn with a generous spread of fermented tofu sauce and also the Triple Happiness which is essentially grilled cheese with three types of cheeses served on sliced sourdough bread.  

I went for the seasonal brew of Brett IPA (which takes on a cute name of "Take a Sad Song and Make it Bretter" from the familiar Beatles tune) from Young Master Brewery. Smooth and with mild acidity which worked just fine with the food and with the relaxing mood. While I don't mind the livelier atmosphere often seen on weekend nights, I love being able to chilled over a nice pint in the afternoons over some well-executed bar snacks at a much quieter space, and perhaps with a few Beatles songs in the background. 

The Ale Project Mongkok:

616 Shanghai Street is the latest gentrification project taking place on the other side of Mongkok, with "Tong Lau" (old tenement houses) built during the Post-War boom restored into a mini shopping mall with a series of new shops and restaurants inside. On the street level right across the street from Cordis is Semua-Semua, the kopitiam-style eatery started in Shum Shui Po and now grew to a few branches around town. Expectedly the place was packed during the lunch service, but we managed to get a table after a short wait. The menu was filled with Malaysian specialty dishes, with the likes of Bak Kut Teh (with various cuts available) or Prawn Mee. 

We shared the combo Bak Kut Teh platter with pork belly, ribs, intestine and deep-fried fritters and tofu served on the side. The soup base has a strong herbal flavor but a bit weak on the meat taste but I like the variety of different items available in one dish with the deep-fried fritters soaking up the flavor from the soup. The traditional otah-otah was done wrapped in banana leaf and steamed - I personally liked it a bit more firm but it tasted fine. 

Kedai Kopi Semua Semua (Facebook):

It's very easy to miss the new Halfway Coffee branch on Soy Street not far away from the Mongkok wet market and Cordis where we stayed for the weekend. With the small shop front at the street corner and the tiniest handwritten sign on the front window, one would easily mistaken this as one of those old shops selling odd goods in this aging neighborhood. The café which originated in Sheung Wan, was known for its laidback décor and the use of nostalgic porcelain cups, and that tradition carried over to this new shop opened just a few months ago on the other side of the harbor. Beyond the style and packaging their coffee was just as good with its specialized espresso drinks brewed from the custom-made machine using beans roasted locally. A perfect hiding spot or a rest stop for those exploring this side of Mongkok, in addition to this being a great place for Instagram-worthy pictures, of course. 

Halfway Coffee (Instagram):

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Love your post in these authentic HK neighborhoods. Thank you and I will definitely be visiting. Sophia