Wai Kee Congee: A gritty hole-in-the-wall with milky smooth porridge

Wai Kee Congee Shop

G/F, 82 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2551 5564

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TL;DR:

Despite my best efforts to convert him, my other half Mr P is staunchly anti-congee, he not being of the Asian persuasion. So it took me a shameful five months after moving to Hong Kong to check out this hole-in-the-wall congee shop with a visiting Singaporean friend. Hong Kong street food expert KC Koo had recommended this spot to me on one of my early work trips to the city, and since then I’ve always noticed how packed it is in the mornings and with the working lunch crowd. And now, at last, I fully get why this place is so popular.

We ordered the Canton-style Pork Congee, which had a remarkably smooth texture and an off-white appearance, like someone had stirred soya bean milk into the mix. I also loved the addition of fish maw, which was plump with flavour an added a spongy texture to every spoonful. We also had the rice rolls or cheung fun, which had a textbook-perfect silky texture; steamed radish cake, which was a little too dense for my liking, though it seems to be the case in most Hong Kong dim sum places I’ve tried so it’s probably just me; and we skipped their highly popular you tiao for the salty dough fritter or ham chim peng, which was overly deep-fried and slightly too crusty, though it could’ve been because it’d been sitting there all morning (we stopped in for a late lunch at 2pm).

Yays:

  1. Very affordable prices despite being sat in the heart of Hong Kong island – Wai Kee is tucked away next to the Stanley Street dai pai dongs, or outdoor street food stands. The most expensive thing on the menu is HKD20.
  2. Clearly written English menus, and a good selection of over 14 ingredient combinations for your congee, and an equal amount of dim sum.

Nays:

  1. It seems to be a general rule in Hong Kong – and actually in Singapore too – that the better the food, the worse the service. Though there were only four other diners in the shop, the middle-aged waiter looked really annoyed that we stepped in, and replied to most of our questions with impatient eye-rolls and grunts. I tried to launch a charm offensive, which generally involves spluttering broken Cantonese with a big helpless smile, that I think at least helped to win us some sympathy from an elderly female cook and cashier, who stepped in to take our drinks orders (choose from a generous range of Coke, Sprite or water).
  2. It’s a dingy little shop, I won’t lie. The kitchen’s grimy and there’s a mound of invoices that seem to have piled up from the last decade, which is probably when the health inspectors last visited, but let’s just chalk it all down to charm.

Fun fact: 

On some quiet afternoons, you can see the staff grating fresh radish outside the eatery.

Will I return?

Repeatedly, for the delightful and affordable congee. It’s probably my favourite congee place so far. The dim sum is a good-to-have for variety, but not a must.

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