Chungking Mansions Afrinoms Adventure

Chungking Mansions Afrinoms Adventure

Where:
?????
Chungking Mansions, 36-44 Nathan Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

FYN note:  I have decided not to disclose the exact location of this restaurant because I don’t think that they actually want any publicity or for people to know where they are.  If any of you are desperate to know the exact location, get in touch.

Price:
HKD180 for two people.  NO, not as cheap as you would hope for.

The deal:
Mr Judgmental, with a head full of delicious suya (Nigerian BBQ) memories, was desperate to go on an HK African food adventure. After some research and reading the following SCMP article, we decided that dum dumdum da dumdum daaaaaaaaah, we heard the Toto Africa drums echoing tonight and it was time for us to make a lunch time Afrinoms adventure to Kwality in Chungking Mansions.

totoafrica

Sauce

Chungking Mansions is a special place in Hong Kong with its dodgy shops, guest houses of dubious quality and restaurants being run out of varying quality.  I should probably mention that Wong Kar Wai film Chungking Express so you know I’m on my cinema shit as well.  As I’m a foodie who is on a constant quest for authenticity (lolz), I’m down with some ghetto Chungking Mansions food, my favourites being Khyberpass for Indian and Bismillah Kebab House so I can scull the squeezy bottles of fuck yeah sauce with various roasted kebab meats.  Mr Judgmental and I put on our stony faces to push past the touts for various Indian restaurants at the entrance of Chungking Mansion who are assailing us with shouts, asking us where we’re trying to go.  We head to the first floor, per the SCMP article and find the hairdresser that’s mentioned as being next to Kwality.  The location where Kwality is alleged to be has a fridge, plastic chairs, one or two customers, a distinctly Indian menu pasted to the wall and an Indian cook wandering about.  As we can only see a row of Indian restaurants in the immediate vicinity, we end up asking one of the restaurant owners if he knows of an African restaurant called Kwality on this floor.  Our restaurant homie was actually surprisingly helpful and we end up talking to two guys who are where we thought Kwality should be.  One of them is African and he gives us riddle like instructions that Kwality is now the Indian restaurant over there and if we want African food, we should go to the fourth floor of another block.

With these cryptic instructions we head over to another block, sweating balls and waving off more touts as we wait for the creaky Chungking lifts to finally take us to the floor.  On this mostly deserted floor there are signs for a guesthouse and another Indian restaurant.  In a foretelling omen, a Chinese lady appears with a coiffed head of permed hair and a bright pink, tailored jacket.  She asks us what we are looking for and we say ‘African food’.  Instead, she grabs my arm and looks straight through my soul, declaring ‘No! Do not eat here.  The food in here is no good.  You should go eat outside!’.  We blithely reply ‘No! We want to eat African food!’.  She shakes her head at me, still holding my arm and rounds up her warning with an unacceptably racist epithet about Indian people being dirty before walking off, disgusted with our choices. No biggie lady, cause I’m disgusted with your FUCK NO racism.

communityexcuseracism

We’re soon peering into a small window in a door, knocking it to see if anyone’s there as the sign outside says ‘CLOSED’.  I’m not entirely sure the people at this restaurant want to be found.  A lady opens the door slightly and almost seems shocked that we want to eat food there (warning sign #1).  She closes the door to go and check with someone before returning to let us into the restaurant, letting us know that the had just opened so the aircon wasn’t even on yet (warning sign #2).

We sit down in a grimey, greasy converted apartment as the aircon wheezes into life (warning sign #3). Meanwhile, I’m giddy with the excitement about how I’m totally going to be able to blog-brag about being such a foodie-asshole gangster and how there are great rewards for those of us who can tear ourselves away from the Island, to lose themselves in getting truly fucking down and dirty in this vibrant, gritty Kowloon food culture.  I imagine myself bashing out a FYN entry before snapping my Macbook shut and then smugly patting myself on the back for being so fucking genuine in my pursuit for authenticity, right before I return to my normal FYN programming of reviews of the Peruvian Korean fried chicken skewers at the newest place in Sai Ying Pun.  Mr Judgmental and I make an assessment and suck down a Travelan each before we eat.  I think this says everything you need to know about our food adventure choices when before you eat you’re taking pharmaceuticals that are scientifically proven to reduce your chances of contracting diarrhoea by 90% through coating your gastrointestinal tract with antibodies (warning sign #4).

We are presented with a menu for Indian food.  A bit puzzled, we flag our waitress down and we tell her that we want African food.  She gives us another hesitant look (warning sign #5) and comes back with another menu, with the warning that African food will take 30 minutes (warning sign #6).  Mr Judgmental and I settle on ordering some samosas while we wait and we ask the friendly and helpful waitress for her recommendations on what we should order for African food.  The menu is not straight forward and we eventually understand that you seem to order some sort of meat, it comes with a sauce/soup and some sort of starch (semolina (fufu) / rice).  We decide on the dried fish with okra, served with semolina and on our waitresses’ recommendation, the shaki served with a bitter leaf which we’re told is meant to be ‘cleansing for the body’.

Our samosas arrive and they’re surprisingly good.  We ask our waitress why is both Indian and African food available here?  We get the explanation that this was always an Indian restaurant but the African restaurant needed to move from its first floor location as people wanted to bring their friends and they needed more seats.  However, lots of customers who used to frequent the original Indian restaurant still wanted to have Indian food, so the restaurant is now running with both an African and an Indian chef (warning sign #7).  At some point, a fuse blows throwing sparks from the air conditioner (warning sign #8) and the entire restaurant falls into portentous darkness.

The first of our African dishes arrive – our waitress brings us two plastic tubs of water so we can wash our hands, as it’s customary to eat with your hands.  A white blob of steamed semolina (fufu) arrives, which is meant to be used as the starch to accompany the dried fish and okra.  The dried fish has been stewed with a gloopy mess of gelatinous okra.  I didn’t mind the taste of the spicy okra sauce, but the dried fish seemed to be a salty, funky mess of fish bones.  Whatever meat I could pry off from the bones was not worth the fucking effort.  I piled in for the full experience, trying the gloopy okra with the manky fish on the gluey fufu and oh nooooo, the fufu was like what I imagine eating wallpaper paste to be like. But with a side of fuck no musty fish.  The air is getting heavier with fuck no regret and fear as I ponder the atrocity of fufu fish okra mess I’ve just eaten:

hedgehogdontlikethisadventure

Our side of Jollof rice (West African fried rice) arrives which is meant to be flavoured with tomatoes, onions and chilli powder but just tastes like rice fried with tomato ketchup.  Our waitress reappears with the shaki with bitter leaf, an indistinguishable pale brown sauce with flecks of dark green leaves mixed through it and large chunks of some sort of meat.  Mr Judgmental and I hadn’t actually paused to ask what shaki is, given we are such fearless food warriors (lolz).  Mr Judgmental takes a bite and says, maybe it’s salted beef?  After some googling, we realise that it’s salted tripe. Mr Judgmental’s face goes from curious to pure abject horror as he chews on this salted tripe.  Being the sharing and caring friend that he is, he insists that now it is my turn.

I take a tiny piece of the shaki and I chew this salty piece of tripe except it’s not far off from being green tripe (ie. unprocessed tripe), tasting so strong of fuck no animal barn times with what I imagine overtones of bile, urea and other digestive fluids to taste like.  The bitter leaf sauce is awful beyond belief and over this fuck no of insurmountable proportions  I lock panicked eyes with Mr Judgmental, our friendship strengthened by the horrors we have just endured together and we decide we have to GTFO.  IMMEDIATELY.

downtonsodone

We settle our bill with our waitress and she asks a bit crestfallen whether everything was ok, because it seemed like we didn’t enjoy our food.  I didn’t have the heart to explain to her that I felt like I now had first hand insights into what it would be like to eat the unclean insides of a cow’s digestive system.  Both Mr Judgmental and I fucking love to give feedback but we had no higher life objective at this point in time but to get the fuck out of Chungking Mansions, so we lied and said it was great but it was just so filling that we couldn’t eat anymore.  We escaped the clutches of Chungking Mansions and TST, with Mr Judgmental pausing to buy three packets of crisps from Marks & Spencers on the way back.  I received numerous messages from him that afternoon where he relived the unspeakable horror of our lunch and an update that he’d eaten all three packets of crisps in an attempt to deal with his PTSSD (Post Traumatic Shaki Stress Disorder) as the unclean fuck no tripe taste was indelibly printed across his psyche.

FYN Artist Impression of Mr Judgmental at his desk:

penguinchips

Sauce

So sometimes I adventure out for ghetto eats and I’m rewarded with fuck yeah panipuris and chilli momos  But in this high risk game, other times you venture out for ghetto eats and you end up with salted tripe which tastes like the bowels of hell with flavour profiles of fuck no digestive juices.  Win some, lose some – but after trying shaki for the first time, imma ready to fall back into the gentle, non-challenging arms of Sai Ying Pun / Sheung Wan faux-industrial restaurants with their yuzu-dressed salads and pretending that I’m really fucking adventurous by eating nose-to-tail by snacking down some miso-glazed short-ribs and some bone marrow on some little sourdough toasties.  I will then mop my fevered brow with a clean Egyptian cotton rag, dipped in a cooling mixture of artisanal gin and a touch of air-freighted Kagoshima satsuma juice and try desperately to forget about the African food horrors that lie within Chungking Mansions. Fuck the adventure times, I just need someone to fucking hold me.

Verdict:
FUCK NOOOOOO, cause as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti, this was quite possibly one of the most horrific eating experiences I’ve ever endured in my entire life. Although in retrospect, it is quite hilarious how much fucking effort went into actually having this execrable experience.

1Comment
  • Nova Senok
    Posted at 23:41h, 01 November Reply

    This is so sad. I’ve taken quite a few (Chinese) friends to Kwality when it was on the first floor since it was really decent Nigerian food (+ I can’t be bothered to cook it myself). They all loved it. I didn’t know it shut down. What you’ve described sounds awful, and not something any West African would cook for another person. Please don’t write off Fufu or Jollof rice for life – anyone who has the good stuff knows why it’s a West African staple.

Fuck yeah or fuck no?

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