The Curry King of the Walled City?
The Curry King, South Wall Road, Kowloon City
Friday 15th February 2019
Kowloon City, with the infamous ruins of the ‘Walled City’ clambering above just to the North, still remains off the beaten track for the Hong Kong expat - in a city full of convenience, a missing MTR station is a veritable black spot for the less intrepid visitor. However, its ‘Little Thailand’ moniker points to a bustling food culture and heritage - packed between Prince Edward Road East and Carpenter Road, the streets run up and down like the grills of its outstanding cooked food centre, sitting at its heart. On one of these sizzling streets (name not displayed on Google Maps, adding to the allure of the Walled City’s ghosts, but is actually titled ‘South Wall Road’) sits The Curry King, smuggled away under some bamboo scaffolding.
A late arrival proved no problem for the staff of the Curry King - our large group was greeted with wide smiles and bottles of Tiger whilst we waited outside and took in the surroundings that have been the inspiration for critically-acclaimed books, films and games (‘The Narrows’ in Batman Begins, Streetfighter II V, The Bourne Supremacy, Call of Duty: Black Ops), as well as Bloodsport starring Claude Van Damme. After a short wait, we were ushered into an authentic curry house setting: a narrow, homely dining room replete with mint green on white embroidered table cloths, and a little (but well-stocked) bar wedged in at the far end - a ‘Little India’ tucked away in ‘Little Thailand’.
With such a large group, the OCC dominated the restaurant, which was already busy (its capacity is around 30 diners), but this allowed us to sample a wide range from the expansive menu. Within minutes the table was being stocked with steaming keema, garlic and tandoori naan, complete with a selection of sharp and sweet condiments of tamarind and mango chutney. Flattened discs of onion bhaji followed, along with piping hot samosas - some of the tastiest this OCC member has consumed.
The assortment of mains and sides continued to draw coos from members: a lamb rogan josh with a gentle heat to warm the cockles on these tough HK winter nights (19C); a papadi chaat a cacophony of sweet and sour, cream and crunch; aloo gobi an earthy array of ginger, mustard and pepper. The jalfrezi proved less popular - the sauce a little thin and lacking in green chilis - but this was quickly forgotten and overshadowed by an exuberant lamb madras: brooding, dark and intense as the former Punisher's eyebrows, with pungent flavours of anise, ginger and tamarind. But the highlight was unswervingly (and unswayingly) the tarka daal - a veritable roundhouse of dried roasted cumin and garlic, a pummeling of ginger and the powerful right hook of chili making it the knockout dish. The consensus was to order another round of mains, much to the server’s surprise and delight.
By the time the check came, the OCC members were out for the count. Service had slowed in the latter half of the dinner (at one point a member had to head to the kitchen to ask again for a plate of chilis and some more Tiger...), but spirits were roused by the delivery of the bill and the extraordinary value it exposed. At $20 for a Tiger, and more food than probably should have been consumed, the total came to under $300/per person with service (this included another round of beers to round the bill up to a nice, even number)!
In summary, the numbers do the talking. This was the best-attended meet for the OCC in Hong Kong, and The Curry King scored the highest score ever for a meet with over 10 members - no mean feat. A hidden gem in one of Hong Kong’s most historic districts, the Curry King’s food and value have made it an early contender for our CHOTY 2019, and deservedly so.
Customer Care 7.96