Ball Kee is a classic wok-and-toss joint, serving up fried rice and fried noodles with various meat-veg-soy-sauce combinations. Situated on the narrow passageway of Staveley Street, the shop is usually filled more with passersby than patrons. At lunchtime it’s popular with local businessmen, who come in their suited droves for the tasty noodle dishes. Around $35 per person.
Food: B+ The waitress recommended the pork sautéed in red chillies, over rice. Unfortunately it was a bit dry and over salted. The patrons around us seemed to be enjoying the noodles – so we followed the herd, and were not disappointed.
Hygiene: C We noticed the cooking water being reused for cleaning. The top of the stove was caked in a weird black gunk.
Atmosphere: B- There is a rushed feel to the place at lunchtime – a sensation only increased by the constant movement of pedestrians.
Service: A- Helpful and quick. The waitress took our poor Canto skills in stride and helped explain the menu.
Overall mark: B-
Visiting a dai pai dong is a quintessential Hong Kong food experience, like going for yum cha or to a cha chaan teng or snacking on street food. The traditional open-air restaurants used to also be synonymous with good cheap eats in Hong Kong, but the no-frills eateries have been an increasingly rare sight on our streets in recent years. Given that the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is not renewing any dai pai dong licenses, it’s a decline that seems destined to continue. But grandfather laws are keeping them alive, and as long as this generation is passing down their licence to the next we’ll still be able to enjoy a slice of old Hong Kong. So in support of good and cheap eating, we’ve compiled this list of the best of the city’s remaining dai pai dongs.