I remember reading somewhere that HK Diner in Chinatown closed at 2am most days, making it perfect for late night meals and snacking and whenever we do find ourselves in the area on a late night, we almost always head there. It was late on a Monday night though when we last stepped through their door and I was afraid they would close soon. “When do you close?” I asked nervously.
The manager waved off my question with a smile, “Don’t worry about that question!” And so I proceeded to stop worrying and took to concentrating on the menu instead. The menu at the HK Diner is long – there’s a long list on the front, a long list on the back and even a long drinks menu too. I like their bubble teas!
That day, we’d been on a bit of a kick to eat healthily so we split only two modest dishes. The first was a healthy vegetable dish. I love the vegetables section on their menu – they first list a number of green vegetables that are available; there’s everything from kai lan to snow pea shoots to lettuce. Then they list a number of preparations, each listed at a certain price. We chose morning glory (aka ong choy, kang kung, water convolvulus) stir fried with fermented beancurd (we chose the preparation and asked our waiter which vegetable would go best with it – he recommended that). The vegetables were fried perfectly – it’s so easy for them to go super limp, super quickly, but these had soft leaves with stems that had just that bit of a bite to them. The fermented beancurd mixture was delicious with it.
For the main part of our meal, we shared a mixed seafood fried rice. Can’t beat a good fried rice, as this one was with small chunks of fresh scallops and prawns throughout.
On a previous visit (also late night), we opted to share a baked pork chop rice. This large dish of rice was topped with pieces of fried pork chop and their secret recipe sauce of wine and cream. The whole thing is baked (it takes at least 20 minutes) and the whole hot bubbling dish is then brought to your table.
Oh my, I need a recipe for this! It’s supremely comforting with its rice (no Chinese person can go without rice!) and its creamy topping. There’s even a baked seafood rice option if you’re not in the mood for pork.
To go with it, we shared a quarter of a crispy shredded duck – I hadn’t had crispy duck in years! It was such an exotic dish to me when I first came to London (though its availability in Marks and Spencers put a bit of a damper on the excitement) – it doesn’t exist in North America. There’s an air of theatre to the whole deal – first, the deep fried, slightly parched looking duck portion is brought to your table for your inspection; then the waiter/waitress quickly and efficiently shreds the entire thing with the air of a showman; and finally, you’re left with the shreds of meat, the nude bones and all the accoutrements: pancakes, hoisin sauce, matchsticks of cucumber, slivers of spring onion. It was good – crispy skin, moist flesh (the duck meat can so easily go dry).
What I need to figure out now is the menu for the rest of the one dish meals, like wonton mee and char siu on rice. I’m going to have to go back again for that – any tips appreciated!
22 Wardour Street
London W1D 6QQ