RIP Ngau Kee: So long and thanks for all the frogs

26 Apr

HK night viewWhen we come to the end of days, when Hong Kong is nothing more than a giant shopping mall, devoid of culture, originality, character – an antiseptic playground for billionaire mainlanders. When we finally all decide we’re probably better off elsewhere, then 2013 may well be the year we look back on as the time everything started to go wrong.

Why am I reaching for the Prozac? My beloved Ngau Kee (pr. ‘now gay’) is no more. After 62 years serving the citizens of Sheung Wan, owner Mak Ping-keung has been forced to shut his family run Canto-food shop by a money-grabbing bastard masquerading as a landlord. Apparently the avaricious arse wants more than the HK$49,000 (£4,000) currently being paid and he’ll probably get it, such is the appetite for property in and around trendy Gough Street.

It wasn’t always this way. Well before the over-priced ponceholes moved in and family-run businesses were pushed out, Gough St and its environs was a pretty ropey part of town – home to printing presses and not much else. Not now. Now it’s filled with furniture shops selling shit no-one wants, posh cafes crammed with buggies and mummies and poncho-wearing bell-ends, and art galleries that look like clubs.

Ngau Kee was great. It was dirty, noisy, cramped and probably hadn’t seen a health & safety certificate in its entire life, but it had a long and delicious English menu, cheap Tsingtao, and a garrulous bunch of (mostly) friendly staff. Basically, everything you want from a local restaurant. And fresh frogs! Local celebs crowded round its tables, ordering braised beef hotpots and mountainous platters of salt and pepper squid, film crews shot regular pieces with Mak and his missus – and her amazing mulleted barnet – and the punters always went away full and happy.

There’s no word of them relocating. To be honest they already moved from an original site in Bridges St so I wouldn’t blame them calling it a day. Wherever they go they’ll have only a year or two respite before the rents price them out of the area again. In the meantime, what is Hong Kong left with? Already club favourite XXX has been forced to close, artsy bar-hole Sense 99 looks like it has become a block of flats, and now this.

So as you walk past what was Ngau Kee, soon no doubt to become a boutique fashion outlet selling clothes no-one wants, spare a thought for the old place, and the city that used to be Hong Kong.

One Response to “RIP Ngau Kee: So long and thanks for all the frogs”

  1. esthertung April 29, 2013 at 7:17 am #

    Wish I had gotten to try this place before it closed down! It’s a pity. Why does greed = rational in the free market?

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