Hong Kong’s Little India
Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui Gourmet Aladdin Suite 4 & 6, 9th floor, Block E Chungking Mansion 36-44 Nathan Rd. Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
When I feel like a masala dosa - the south Indian rice pancake stuffed with spiced potatoes - I go to Aladdin in Chungking Mansions. Actually, that's not exactly the case. Whenever I feel like I need a break from Hong Kong, I go to Chungking Mansion with the excuse of eating a masala dosa at Aladdin's. An hour in Chungking Mansion gives you the sensation of a vacation abroad. The ground floor is a maze of shops run by Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshi and Nepalis. The clientele is exclusively African. The Chinese traders seem charmingly out of place, a tolerated minority, just a few steps off Kowloon's most famous boulevard.
Like all of the eateries in Chungking Mansion, Aladdin is actually a residential flat. It takes a long time to reach the 9th floor because the elevator is always being used to move huge bundles of unfathomable bales of cargo. I'm always one of the only customers. The flat is grotty, with tacky plastic flowers suspended from the ceiling, but the dosa is cooked specially for you, and it costs only HK$ 25. When you leave, and have an equally long wait in the lift lobby, the smells, and even the calls from the kitchen, are exactly that of a dhaba, or roadside eatery, in India.
(If you can't take grottiness, follow the well-heeled Indian families to Woodlands, 61 Mody Rd in Tsim Sha Tsui East, exit P2 from the MTR stop. The dosas aren't superior, and they're more expensive (around HK$ 40), but the Rassam (spicy tamarind soup) is superb. - By Anthony Spaeth