[HK] Kam Wah Cafe | 金華冰廳

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The search for good 'bo lo bau' or 'buttered pineapple bun' brought us travelling to this tea restaurant (cha chaan teng) nestled among the busy streets of Mongkok. With no lack of food accolades such as recommendation by CNN and local media, let the tasting adventure begin!

'Bo Lo Yau' (菠蘿油)

Contrary to what the name suggested, this popular sweet pastry widely available in Chinese bakeries contains no pineapple fruit at all. The sugary tasting crust on the top of the bun is supposedly made to resemble the epicarp of a pineapple, with a dough similar to that used to make sugar cookies, commonly consisting of sugar, eggs, flour and lard. The bread underneath is the same used in Chinese style Western bread, which is a softer and sweeter dough compared to Western breads. The name of the pastry is therefore pretty much derived according to its appearance.

The 'bo lo yau' tried at Kam Wah has a slight variation, though commonly served in cha chaan tengs in Hong Kong, with a large slab of butter in between the halves of the bun. The bo lo bau was served straight from the oven, feeling slightly warm. The slab of butter was applied at room temperature and the heat from the bun made it melt instantly. The top crust was slightly stiff and tasted very well toasted albeit it tasting slightly sweet. Being served straight from the oven, the fresh bun tasted light, fluffy and airy on the inside, which contrasted almost perfectly with the hardened sweet crust.You would fall in love with Kam Wah's version of bo lo bau if you are a fan of toast. What would probably be the icing on the cake would literally be the appearance of the crust. Ideally, it should resemble the epicarp of the pineapple, though in this instance, it was nowhere close.

Verdict: 8.5/10

Hong Kong style French Toast

The Hong Kong version of the French Toast is probably a more calories-loaded serving compared to its original counterpart. Served with a thin slab of butter, the surface of the sandwich had been deep fried to golden brown, leaving it a crisp texture but certainly greasy. The traditional way of enjoying this sandwich is to drizzle honey over the toast, though upon the first bite, we realised that something was amiss.

There was no peanut butter in the sandwich! Well it is not exactly a standard spread expected when one orders the French Toast in Hong Kong, though majority of the cha chaan tengs around would probably serve their toasts with a generous layer of peanut butter before deep-frying it. The toast however was exuding a rich fragrance of butter flavour with a fluffy soft interior, leaving us craving for another bite after the first. If there was any consolation to this, it tasted oily but at least it was not overwhelming.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Puff Pastry Egg Tarts

Priced individually, the puff pastry egg tarts were a 'must order' since tmcy is a huge fan of it. The buttery crust was thin and crumbled easily, so have your plate close by! This was contrasted with a generous serving of the egg filling which was very soft and tender, literally melting in your mouth. There was a very subtle sweetness to the filling, enough to please the palate. There wasn't a strong egg flavour to it but the filling had a solid strong yellow colour tone to it, which probably meant that artificial colouring were being added. Some might prefer the thin crust, though personally we would have enjoyed it better if the crust was slightly thicker, to give a balance to the plentiful filling. Likewise, the base of the tart was a tad too thin for our liking, though it must be said that the crust had a strong buttery taste and flavour to it.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Hot Drinks (Black Coffee and Milk Tea)

We particularly favoured the usage of old school serving cups, which went very well with the setting of the cafe. Unfortunately, like most cha chaan teng's black coffee (no sugar nor milk added), it tasted very acidic and served more of a thirst quencher. The milk tea fared slightly better, but was not good enough to impress.

Verdict: 6.5/10

Mexico Bread

As we were leaving the cafe, there was a tray of freshly baked 'Mexico bread' being brought to the front of the cafe, where takeaway orders are being served. It would be close to impossible to resist against piping hot freshly baked bread of any sort really. The Mexico bread was light and fluffy on the inside (the classic airy inside) and a slightly crisp toast to the surface of the bun, filled with sweetened crust, similar to that of the   bo lo bun. It was not too sweet either, which suited our palate. Overall, it was another must-try, just be careful of the crumbling crust that might fall all over you.

Verdict: 9.0/10

Chicken Pie

Another takeaway order, but this simple looking and widely available chicken pie tasted pretty extraordinary to say the least. Despite a rather thick layer of buttered pastry on the top of the pie, it did not taste overly greasy nor overwhelming. The filling was simple and not excessive, but the rich flavours of the buttery pastry more than compensated the somewhat lacking chicken chunks filling. 

Verdict: 7.5/10

Kam Wah Cafe is the classic traditional Hong Kong cha chaan teng, where you would expect a lot of hustle and buzz surrounding you while you attempt to feebly tuck in to your meal. Chances are you would have the pleasant or unwanted company of a stranger sharing a table with you, which will potentially affect your dining appetite. Do not expect to linger around too long either after you had finished your meal, for before you know it, the serving waiters and waitress are beckoning your departure. Apart from the setting, the food was in general very satisfactory. We would certainly return, for a takeaway at least, if we are in the Mongkok vicinity.

Kam Wah Cafe
G/F 47 Bute Street
Prince Edward 

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