Longing for that feeling of eating seafood sitting at an outdoor restaurant? How about in the middle of winter… in the center of Happy Valley? For those who miss summer trips out to Sai Kung or one of Hong Kong’s islands, but can’t take the cold or the time to leave town, the Wong Nai Chung Cooked Food Centre aka the Happy Valley market offers nearly the same experience.
Twice last month I visited the Wong Nai Chung Cooked Food Centre on the second floor of the building that also houses the market.
The location is smack in the middle of Happy Valley, on the corner of Yuk Sau Street and Sing Woo Road. It’s in one of those ugly government sanctioned buildings that takes the place of the more colorful, but perhaps less controllable street markets. You can enter the building on several sides. I usually enter on 2 Yuk Sau Street. Simply climb the short staircase and look for the escalator going up.[photopress:Happy_Valley_food_market.jpg,full,pp_image]
At the entrance they list a building guide with semi-cute animal pictures![photopress:Wong_Nai_Chung_Happy.jpg,full,pp_image]
When you arrive on the second floor (American third floor,) you’ll see a sign.[photopress:Happy_Valley_restaurant_HK.jpg,full,pp_image]
Looking through the glass doors it appears to be a large cafeteria.[photopress:Happy_Valley_Wong_Nai_Chung.jpg,full,pp_image]
In fact, the cooked food center is home to six different restaurants, each serving food to the tables inside. As you walk in, be prepared to get surrounded by restaurant waitresses asking you “how many people?” in an attempt to be the first to seat you and therefore get your business.[photopress:Wong_nai_Chung_cook_market.jpg,full,pp_image]
I haven’t tried all of the restaurants, so I don’t feel comfortable recommending one over another. The last time I ordered from Sheung Kee, and sat all the way at the opposite end from the entrance, close to the elevator. The food was consistently good the last two times I visited. Some of the restaurants specialize in seafood. If you’re interested in a particular dish, such as sharks fin, you may need to order it in advance before arriving. I normally skip the lavish stuff, and go for market-fresh, family-style standards. Sheung Kee has menus in Chinese and English as well as picture menus. The prices are reasonable and the portions are good sized.
I enjoy the whole experience of going to this place. It’s a novelty from the standard restaurant routine. Besides the excellent food, it’s the small things I like, like the fact that they give you big glass bottles of Coca-Cola when you order one.
The place can get crowded and occasionally they can run out of certain kinds of fresh seafood, so pick a good time to go. I’d recommend arriving before 9 pm.
The Happy Valley cooked food center is one of several similar places. The North Point market also has a famous selection of restaurants as well.