Ever since reading Anthony Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential, I’ve wondered where chefs in Hong Kong eat after clocking in a gruelling 12-hour shift. I’ve assumed it’s places that dish out simple, heartwarming food that puts one’s tense muscles at ease after an intensive kitchen stint.
I never knew one of these places would be Ju Xing Home, an unassuming local restaurant situated near Prince Edward MTR station, until a couple of good folks brought me there. The evidence was revealed when I walked into the restaurant and saw the walls plastered with framed pictures of renowned chefs and celebrities who have patronised the place.
It’s said that walk-ins are rarely available at Ju Xing Home and that you need to make a reservation way in advance just to get a seat. It was hard to imagine at first, as the place was still pretty empty when we arrived at 6pm, but it was a different story an hour later.
Serving up dai pai dong-style food, we ordered a few staples and some of Ju Xing Home’s signature dishes.
Ju Xing Home’s sweet-and-sour sour spare ribs ($98) was easily one of the best sweet-and-sour pork dishes I have had in my life. The sweet sauce glazing the ribs was sticky and caramel-like, and the big, meaty ribs came with a delightfully crisp exterior.
Another memorable meat dish was the mala poached beef slices ($198), featuring tender beef slices cooked in an addictively spicy broth – so addictive that I found myself constantly scooping the moriesh broth over my bowl of rice.
I also found myself picking up the delicious fried salty garlic bits in the stir-fried kai lan in clay pot ($88), where the vegetables were packed with great wok hei flavour.
Usually overfried and dry, the roast pigeon ($68) was surprisingly juicy and tender to the bone. Sprinkle some salt over the well-glazed, cracked skin – divine.
While many dai pai dongs serve seafood dishes, the freshness of the fish can sometimes be compromised. The seafood dishes at Ju Xing Home, although slightly steep in price, are generous, great for sharing and, most importantly, super fresh. The steamed giant grouper with salted vegetables ($498) might seem like any other steamed fish dish, but it brought me back to the days where I would eat dinner weekly at my grandma’s. The grouper was incredibly fresh and tender, and the broth was concentrated with homey, traditional flavours.
My favourite dish of the night was the most basic of the lot: steamed tofu with clams (seasonal price). It looked so deceivingly simple and plain, but the layers of flavour beneath the simplicity were surprising. The egg-like custard was rich with umami-clam goodness, and its silky-soft texture made each bite irresistible. It came in a giant bowl, and I was sure that if I hadn’t already eaten so much else that evening, I could have devoured the entire thing in one sitting.
I now understand why chefs flock to Ju Xing Home after their kitchen shifts. The sense of home and warmth that each dish brings is a marvel. The dishes (barring the seafood) are reasonably priced and the quality of the food is exceptional. I will be sure to book in advance when friends and family come to visit me in Hong Kong – it’s a great place to introduce local fare to newcomers.
Special thanks to Uncle David and his family, Mr Robert Chua and his wife and everyone at Ju Xing Home for their kind hospitality!
418 Portland Street, Prince Edward, 2392 9283
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