CBD Cheap Eats (HK Edition)
For my next round of Boo-Bee’s nightly cheap eats, we’ll look at places in the CBD with a focus on Hong Kong cuisine and Taiwanese teas.
Shop 29-31, QV Square
Cnr Swanston & Lonsdale Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9639 6663
Let’s start off in QV Building, at a newish place located right opposite PappaRich. I hear that this joint is owned by the same people behind Rice Workshop in Chinatown.
It’s table service here. Fun fact: I notice that when you’re doing cheap eats, once there’s table service, then pricing will start from $10 onwards. Anything below $10 tends to be more order at the counter and self-serve.
Pork Belly Gua Bao $6.60 Steam bun filled with soya marinated pork belly cooked for 4 hours, pickled boo chou, crushed peanuts and coriander
We started off by sharing an enticing entree of braised pork belly in a fluffy steamed bun. For a 4-hour piece of cooked belly, it was on the not-so-succulent side and the bun could’ve afforded more gravy on it to make it less dry.
Vegetarian Fried Rice $9.90
Here’s Fatbee’s vegetarian (of course) fried rice… (thank goodness he still eats meat with me). This dish arrived at our table within one minute of ordering… talk about fast food! This dish was alright, the little jar of chilli oil that comes with every table helped it out a lot. Of course if it was me, I’d have ordered the fried rice with salted fish and chicken…!
Barbeque Pork and Fried Wonton Dry La Mian Noodle $10.90 Shophouse’s own BBQ Pork matched with homemade fried wontons
I have a rather narrow perspective towards HK food: it has to involve roasts and BBQ meats! I know, I know… very unadventurous of me. This dish was a little bit like dry wonton noodles in Singapore, where resilient egg noodles comes with charsiu (BBQ pork) and pork wontons.
The difference here is the wontons are deep fried and there isn’t any special accompanying chilli sauce to bring the dish together. The soup is also important, but sadly the soup this time was on the over-salted side.
Sour Plum Herbal Tea (Cold) $3.70
While going out for cheap eats nightly does stack up on the wallet, the one good thing is we don’t necessarily finish everything, here’s Fatbee’s fried rice being stowed away for the next day’s lunch.
Shophouse Kitchen serves decent food at a reasonable price point. Some tweaks could be done to make the dishes better, but overall I’d probably come back here once in awhile. One thing to note, they charge $1 for all credit card transactions. So bring cash!
Shop 15, QV Building
Red Cape Lane
L2 Swanston Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9639 6660
I tend to have a ritual of grabbing bubble tea after an Asian meal when I’m in the city. On this front I’m so glad that these tea stands have mushroomed allover town in the past few years. That evening, we visited a new branch of Chatime (‘cha’ means ’tea’ in Chinese) located within QVB itself.
Another fun fact, silly me had always pronounced this place as ‘chat-time’, as if it’s time to chat over a cuppa tea!
Roasted Milk Tea – L $4.80 (with Herbal Grass Jelly $0.60) 30% sugar 30% ice
I ordered what used to be my all-time favourite milk tea there – roasted milk tea with herbal jelly. Being more health conscious these days, I asked for less sugar and less ice. It’s good that you get to customise your drinks.
Chatime’s roasted milk tea tastes pretty tannic, and at 30% sugar it became a tad too much. I’ll probably stick with 50% sugar next time (the level I used to have always ordered) to help balance things out. Oddly, this time I also noticed that the roast flavour of the tea is no longer as prominent. Maybe the formula has changed, or it varies from branch to branch.
D House Cafe
A month or so later, Fatbee and I explored another spot, this time right opposite QV Building across Swanston St. This place used to be called ‘Dessert House’, but I think having that name confused people into thinking it’s a dessert place when they actually have quite a lot of food items on the menu. Hence the name change.
Hot Honey Citron Tea $2.00
Once again, HK cuisine is the go here… the menu’s just as big as Shophouse Kitchen’s, with the exception that I did not really spot any roast or BBQ meat dishes in this joint.
Fatbee was still recovering from a head cold and sore throat that evening (he sounded like a chain smoker), hence this soothing hot drink of honey and preserved lemon.
Lemongrass Chicken & Fried Egg on Rice $9.50
I struggled a little bit with the menu and baulked at the prospect of eating baked rice with creams and cheeses on top. In the end, I chose lemongrass chicken over deep fried spicy chicken ribs. It was quite a good dish with nice charred outsides and a big chunk of nicely marinated chicken.
All that said, I thought the fried egg could’ve been cooked a little less overzealously, and I wished this dish came with a bit more gravy or sauce as eating just the chicken with the rice ended up tasting quite dry.
Baked Portuguese Style Chicken on Rice $11.80
And here’s Fatbee’s apparent idea of ‘soothing’ food for colds and flus. “Ahem*… creamy sauced chicken on top of oily fried rice… can’t wait to play ‘Doctor Doctor’ with him more.
I’m not familiar with Portuguese style baked rice, but the fried rice underneath all that cream actually tasted quite good. The rich sauce itself was creamy rather than cheesy… overall probably a bit too rich for my palate.
This place’s food was alright but because of personal preference, I’m not that big a fan of the menu. Although they do have a list of rather tempting $6.80 all-day specials where you can get things like deep fried spicy chicken ribs on rice in a bowl. Mmm…
231 Swanston St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Just a few doors down from D House, I just couldn’t resist having more Taiwanese bubble tea! My first encounter with Gong Cha was in Hong Kong itself, where I found my chosen drink somewhat underwhelming. But Fatbee has introduced me to his favourite Gong Cha drink item, and I’ll have to admit it’s pretty fabulous.
#6 Royal Pearl Milk Tea $4.7 (25% sugar, no ice)
And here’s that drink, the royal pearl milk tea, with 25% sugar and little (or no) ice. I usually go for less ice because it means you get more tea to drink… Hah!
Fatbee (being the tea aficionado) thinks that this tea actually tastes better than Chatime’s offerings. Objectively speaking, I noticed that this tea tasted rich with a nice depth of subtle fragrance to it. The slightly sweet soft-chewy pearls were a delight to teeth into as well. The 25% sweetness level was also perfect for this drink.
I’ll now concede that I probably also prefer this nuanced drink over Chatime’s strongly tannic roast milk tea. Of course I’m only comparing one single drink out of a very extensive menu of many many drinks, so I think it’s a bit like comparing apples to oranges.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this instalment of Boo-Bee’s cheap eats. I’m predicting there’ll be many many more to come!