I didnt intentionally want my first Hong Kong meal to be at a weirdo dive bar. I hadnt anticipated a woody structure at the end of an alley, festooned with Christmas lights, but after the twenty hours or so traveling and getting traumatized trying to hoof our luggage from the mere five blocks at Causeway Bay station to our hotel (all those staircases and flyovers, which are metric or Chinese or something crazy–the stairs arent spaced natural to American strides. I kept tripping, which probably had nothing to do with jetlag) we didnt have the energy to attempt a Chinese-only restaurant, which was all we were finding open after 11pm on a weeknight (the next night we discovered we were just going in a bad direction—plenty are open if you shoot off the other way).
So, we were the only Westerners in this low key pub filled with college aged (who knows they couldve been in their forties—yes, I'm stereotyping, but Asians age so damn well. Hmm, actually at the HK airport on the way back to NYC a tourism department girl caught and convinced me to answer a survey. When asking my age range she kept pointing at the two categories in the twenties. I was like “no, I'm in the 30-34 group,” which seemed to surprise her into responding “but you look so young of face,” which made me feel blissfully youthful for about thirty seconds) kids listening to Cantonese hip hop and pop, stuff that sounded just like Christina Aguilera but not in English.
We conservatively ordered Heineken rather than trying one of the many Red Bull concoctions being advertised. I noticed that at the few bars we visited they have drink prices displayed on menus and on the wall in at regular rate and happy hour rate. So spelled out and regulated, same with the sizes of the liquor shots. But we were starving, that was the main reason wed popped out of the comfy confines of our tiny hotel room.
The menu was full of bizarre bar food items like chicken wings with Switzerland sauce. I bravely tried salt and pepper squid, expecting little calamari styled crunchies like youd get here, but this was like a giant octopus cut up with lots of arms and tentacles. Luckily, seafood that looks like seafood doesnt scare me. The club sandwich we also ordered was probably more frightening. The layers consisted of ham, a white processed cheese, lettuce, tomato, fried egg and cucumbers, the latter two giving me the most pause. It wouldnt give Dennys Super Bird a run for its money, but at that moment it was the tastiest (and only) thing wed eaten in Hong Kong.
The Barn * 44-48 Leighton Rd., Hong Kong