[eat] Authentic Thai cuisines at Kowloon City: reviews of Amporn Thaifood & Cheong Fat

Do you guys remember my post about the best airport food you can possibly find at such a great price a la Sawatdee at Hong Kong International Airport terminal 2? If Thai food at the Airport can be that good, how good can it get outside the airfield, you ask?

Well, the answer is that there is a Thai community in Hong Kong in Kowloon City (formerly known as Kowloon Walled City). It is not large, but certainly vibrant and thriving. Kowloon City is, in fact, one of my favorite places in Hong Kong, where you can find quite a number of authentic Thai restaurants and little stores carrying Thai and Southeast Asian spices, herbs, and other products.

One of the more popular Thai restos in Kowloon is Cheong Fat (or 昌發泰國粉麵屋) which, as far as I know, is also featured in Lonely Planet guidebook. Cheong Fat, unfortunately, didn’t live up to my expectations. The food was okay, and though I must give credit to their flavorsome noodles, I certainly didn’t enjoy my meal there as much as I did at Amporn Thaifood (泰苑小食), a hawker stall on the top floor of Kowloon City Municipal Services Building (it is also where Lok Yuen, a great place for Hong Kong-styled French toast, is based), located a few blocks away.

When we talk about Thai food, the bf and I both salivate at the holy trinity of Green-Red-Yellow curry, the hearty Tom Yum Kung, and the fairy godmother of desserts – Mango sticky rice (khao neeo mamuang). And praise the lord, these 3 Thai cuisines we had at Amporn were seriously phenomenal.

Wonderful Tom yum kung with noodles. Just seriously perfect. The broth was quite clear, but burst with flavors. In each drop I could taste a chorus of kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, fish sauce, and chili peppers. The seafood was also fresh and abundant. Oh and the cilantro. I love anything with extra cilantro.

The green curry was, again, bloody delicious. I loved the rich, creamy taste of coconut milk. I burst into real tears at the seamless transition of flavors from sweet (coconut) to salty (fish sauce) to spicy (chili and curry paste) to fresh (basil). Chunks of chicken, as well as eggplant slices, were cooked to juicy tenderness.

The Chicken wings, though they tasted really good and were marinated well, were nothing too out of the ordinary. We should have saved money for another kind of curry, but hey I’m not complaining.

Nom nom nom xD

Our Khao neeo mamuang was also very very delish. We both, though, greedily wish that they had given us 2 instead of one piece of mango…

On another occasion there, we were in an adventurous mood and decided to order something else. It was, sadly, a less spectacular experience.

The satay tasted authentic but was small and on the more expensive side. We both loved the peanut sauce, though. Possibly even better than the sauce we had at Jalan Alor in Malaysia.

The Pineapple rice, unfortunately, was a big disappointment. I naturally had expected my pineapple rice to be served in half of a pineapple, but it looked like this :\

The rice was like normal fried rice, it was hard to find a cube of pineapple, let alone to detect the fruit’s flavor:

I mean Pineapple should look like this (served in a pineapple) and taste at least 50% as good as what the bf made (and no I am not biased at all).

As Amporn has a lot on offer, from these Thai classics to big seafood dishes, I couldn’t take pictures of their menu (excuse the sloth in me). But I can guarantee that the prices are very reasonable and the food is totally worth a trip to Kowloon City. Despite the rice dish, both the bf and I agree that Amporn should be on the top of your list should you want some quality Thai food in Hong Kong.

2 days ago, we ventured to Kowloon City again to check out Cheong Fat–a very very very popular shop among locals there. When we got there at 12:15, there were 4 people waiting for the place to open. After our 15 minute stroll around the block (= going into an AC-ed frozen meat store nearby), we found our way back into Cheong Fat and were surprised to find all but one of the tables already taken!

We spent some minutes studying the menu:

And me, being an all cute and sweet gal, picked the Rainbow soup noodle (30 HKD) for its fancy name:

The bf, though, conscientiously ordered the Duck meat soup noodle (30 HKD):

True to its name, the Rainbow noodle was a very pretty bowl to look at. The broth was slightly sweet, but not in the way I like. I wanted it to be hearty and full-bodied, but looks like my rainbow had neither a heart nor a body. Though I was not that into the fish cakes & fish balls, I really enjoyed the ox blood cubes (blood is totally my thing).

The water spinach added a satisfying crunch to the thick but silky noodles:

The Duck meat one, however, was remarkable. The broth was just the way I love, meaty, perfectly seasoned (with heart and body). The Duck was oh-so-good. We couldn’t believe that they would give us such high quality duck here: superbly tender and flavorsome. Not at all dry or gamey.

Should have ordered 2 bowls of this stuff (but I wish they had given us twice as much broth):

The son tam (Green papaya salad/35 HKD), despite our confusion over the fact that it was more expensive than the noodles, was refreshing and lovely. Though the bf thought that there was a bit too much fish sauce, I myself loved every bit of the dish. It was fresh, crunchy, and just lovely, albeit not as spicy as I wanted.

We originally wanted to order the Deep fried fish cake but had to trade it for the Prawn cake (48 HKD) because the kitchen was out of the former. It was our huge mistake. I simply didn’t like it at all. Mostly, I hated how sweet it tasted. It was a plain sweet cake with shrimp flavor. Even the crunchy breading couldn’t redeem these cakes by any degree:

A shame, as I heard lots of compliments on the Fish counterpart :(

All in all, our meal in Cheong Fat was average, and I don’t see the reason behind the hype. Luckily, next time when we crave for some Thai food, we always have Amporn to return to. And there are a plethora of other Thai places in Kowloon City that have received great reviews – it’s just that I’m cheap, and they are all more expensive than Amporn, so…

Cheong Fat, 27 Nam Shing Street, Kowloon City, Kowloon, Hong Kong.


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