COCONUTS HOT SPOT – Nestled among old-fashioned convenience stores, cha chaan tangs and traditional Chinese tenement blocks, Sun King Yuen Curry Restaurant has been a fixture on Spring Garden Lane in historic Wan Chai for decades.
Well-known across Hong Kong for its signature Curry Pork Chop Rice, the family-run restaurant is a favourite lunch spot among Wan Chai’s office crowd on weekdays.
The 20-odd seats in the small establishment are usually filled before 1pm, even with customers sharing tables with strangers. The staff’s swift and friendly service ensures a quick turnover, however, so waiting times are usually reasonable.
Sun King Yuen serves the same variety of standard rice and noodle dishes found in most casual local restaurants, but its specialty is Hong Kong-style curry. Among the possible combinations of curry rice dishes with different meats and seafood – including usual favourites brisket and prawn – the restaurant’s Curry Pork Chops are by far the most popular.
Many customers order the signature dish every visit without so much as glancing at the menu. So let’s concentrate on that shall we?
The Signature Curry Pork Chops
Sun King Yuen’s Curry Pork Chops are deep-fried to order and always served fresh and juicy. Each plate comes with a big portion of rice under two large, golden-brown chops.
The curry, served in a separate bowl with a piece of soft boiled potato, is made from a special recipe and is slightly spicier, more fragrant and less watery than the Hong Kong-style curries found in most other restaurants.
Because the curry comes separately, some customers like to splatter it all over both the pork chops and rice to get an even taste in every bite, while others like to dip individual pieces of pork chop, meticulously cut into manageable strips, into the curry before devouring them. Whatever way you do it, it’s delicious.
At HKD72 a plate, Sun King Yuen’s portions are very generous. The two pieces of pork chop in each order are hefty but of a high quality, unlike the bland or coarse large portions of meat typically found in fast-food chains or other cha chaan tangs.
The chops are soft and tender, and there is very little bone, tendon or fat throughout the meat. The frying batter is thin and forms a crispy layer on the outside that locks in the juice, keeping the meat so moist that the dish would be pretty darn good even without the curry sauce.
To avoid the perpetual crowds at lunch and dinner hours, many customers from the neighbourhood order to go. The dish is perfect for what Hong Kongers call “ga liu”, or “adding more variety” to meals prepared at home.
The seating inside Sun King Yuen’s old space is not the most comfortable, but the restaurant’s welcoming service – unusual for a place with its fame – more than makes up for it.
Its dedication alone to both the high quality of the signature dish and its large, affordable portions will keep people, including myself, coming back for more.
Sun King Yuen Curry Restaurant, 20 Spring Garden Lane, Wan Chai, (+852) 2574-9172.