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I love going on food adventures. Whenever I’m away in some far-flung destination, I’ll embark on a mini-journey trying to find an offbeat place where only locals go to eat. This was the case in Hong Kong. I notified a friend that I was in her hometown and wanted a recommendation of restaurants. She suggested I go to the Java Road Municipal Services Building and take the elevators upstairs to find a food court. I was a bit puzzled by the name, and when I arrived at the place in the northern area of Hong Kong, it looked more like a dilapidated concrete building than a food court. I stepped inside and saw a food market downstairs. That’s when I realized it was a former government building that has since been converted into a food court and food market. Awesome.
I took the ramshackle elevator and went up to the second floor. Once I stepped out, I was overwhelmed by the crowded tables and the loud, buzzy chatter of spoken Cantonese. Anytime I was within close sitting distance to a nearby food stall, a lady would urge me to sit down at her table and try her meals. After walking back and forth, I decided to sit at an empty table. I looked at what the locals were eating, so I ordered the black fried pepper steak. The steak arrived and was heaped with lettuce, rice and eggs and topped with a thick brown gravy sauce. It was a hearty dish but tasted delicious in a homey-soul-filling way. The server and adjacent customer were very gracious and patient, especially when they realized that I didn’t speak Cantonese. The server suggested I drink Hong Kong-style milk tea while the lady sitting next to me offered me to try some of her fragrant egg fried rice. I left Hong Kong soon afterwards and was happy to report back to my friend that despite the odd-sounding name, the food, service, and lively atmosphere was excellent.
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