Since day 1, I’ve been hearing about No.9 Restaurant. This is partly because it’s open 24 hours a day, partly because it’s a good spot to go with a crowd, and partly because of its traditional Hong Kong fare, especially breakfast. Based on a recommendation, I decided to go for that all-important first meal of the day, with plans for popping out of bed at 6am, cycling to Lansdowne Mall where it’s located, and ordering a hearty combo of congee with soy stir-fried noodles. Here’s how the morning really went:
Alarm went off. Obviously slept through it, because I woke up at 8am instead. I dragged myself out of bed (not popped, as planned), and instead of getting the day’s post up quickly and efficiently as I always hope for and rarely achieve, I got all finicky and took forever to publish it. In other words, by the time I finally got my bag packed up – and trust me, I look like I’m hiking for a week when I leave for the day – it was past 11am, which I discovered is past their breakfast combo hours. But I was already there, and No. 9’s busy but helpful manager declared “You should get congee and Chinese donuts instead!” He really didn’t seem like a man to argue with, so I willingly complied. He left me with the menu to choose my congee, and went to put my order for donuts in.
At first I thought, “ah maaaan, I already had congee and donuts at Tsim Chai,” but then realized that a) this would be a good opportunity to compare the two traditional meals, and b) this could become Part One of a two-part post on No. 9. What’s the second part going to be, you ask? Well, I’m going to drag some poor, tired friend out of bed at midnight and take them back to No. 9 for some late night dining! I’ve always wondered what 24 hours restaurants are like in the middle of the night, and soon I (and some very grumpy friend) will find out! So watch for Part Two, coming as soon as I can convince someone this is a good idea.
I went with the BBQ pork congee, and snacked on the donuts as I waited for it to arrive. They were nice and crunchy, but not as salty as the ones from Tsim Chai, and therefore I liked them less. Still good though! I’ll never actually complain about fried dough.
While the donuts at No. 9 came second to Tsim Chai, the congee came first.
It was more flavourful (i.e. more salty, are you getting a sense of my taste?) and had more toppings; there was thinly sliced green onion, delicately fried pieces of dough for crunch, and a generous amount of BBQed pork.
The pork was a little chewy for my liking, but still satisfying. All in all, I’d recommend No. 9 as a place to try your first bowl of congee, as they have a large selection to choose from. Watch for post #2 (which will accompany another, new post), and I’ll have more dishes to recommend.
After leaving the restaurant, I discovered a small shop called Mr. Ginger, just a few doors down in the mall. It was lined with row after row of clear plastic bins, most of which appeared to contain dried fruits, few of which I actually recognized. I was intrigued.
I walked in and started chatting with Deland, who owns the shop with her husband. She came to Richmond 10 years ago from Mainland China, and 7 years ago had her son Alex, who was in the shop with her that day.
Deland was happy to spend time with me, explaining the many products they import from various parts of Asia. Some of them have medicinal uses, and I filmed Deland explaining a number of them:
If you’re visiting Richmond, I’d recommend stopping in at Mr. Ginger and saying hello. Some of their dried products might be a little foreign to you, but it’s fascinating to see foods like olives, which I’d only ever seen brined or sun-dried, preserved as candy! And if Alex is free, he’ll lead you around to his favourite snacks and hold up the bin lids as you dish from them, the wee gentleman that he is. Here are some of the goodies I picked up; my favourite was the spicy lemon ginger.
I also really enjoyed these round, delicate little Hawthorne sugar biscuits. Hawthorne is a kind of berry found across Europe and Asia, and is well-known for its numerous health benefits. You can read more about it here.
Thanks to Deland and Alex for a wonderful tour of their shop, and keep your eye out for No. 9 midnight dining adventures…….
Mr. Ginger (also inside Lansdowne Mall)