Most dining places with a rustic charm always involve traveling to some off-the-beaten-track or driving into some rural area but not Hong Kong 8 AM. This place is right in the city. And it has a rustic charm to it that might make you want to visit.
Hong Kong 8 AM
Hong Kong 8 AM is not located in plain sight though, because you have to actually search for it even though it is located at a rather popular ‘makan‘ area in Alor Setar, where you find all those standalone buildings of well-known franchise chains such as McDonald, Starbucks and KFC along Jalan Alor Mengkudu. Alor Setarians are well acquainted with this area because it’s an area well-known for long queue of cars during night time at MacD. Also, there are many popular eating haunts in the vicinity.
But along this road that leads to a rather densely populated residential area of Taman Saga, you will find this rather rustic breakfast place, Hong Kong 8 AM. It opens from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., which means it caters to the lunch crowd too.
Hong Kong 8 AM is located just beside the main road of Jalan Alor Mengkudu. You need to look for it right after you turn left from Jalan Tanjung Bendahara. You can’t miss the big building if you know what to look for. However, it is very easy to miss this restaurant because of its location behind this massive building that hides it from plain sight.
The heavy machinery warehouse or workshop looks rather decrepit which will definitely make anyone who is searching for a restaurant hesitate if it’s the right place. The only thing that tells us of Hong Kong 8 AM’s existence here is a little round yellow signage on the side pillar of the main entrance. The main signage at the entrance of the place reads The Riverside Lounge and Cafe. And to make matters a little extra doubtful, there is no clue of the romanised name of this place. A note here – the Riverside Lounge and Cafe operates at night.
When we turned into it, we had doubts whether we were at the right place. Hence, there were a lot of hesitations when we parked our car in search of Hong Kong 8 AM. Also, there were all these rusty containers perched on pillars looking rather forlorn. The compound was also dusty, all seemingly pointing towards the place being an abandoned area. At the time we went, the place also looked empty. There was a lone dog prancing around when we got out of our car. Everything was quiet and felt deserted.
I got down the car hesitantly and walked towards what looked like a restaurant right under a green container with the words See Hup Pioneer. My curiosity was piqued by the sight of a buggy and some big bikes parked at the entrance of building with the sign The Lounge. All remained quiet and empty as we walked along the narrow cement path. There was not a single soul in sight. But even then, the place looked rather charming in its own way.
I guess maybe it is not often that we get such places in Alor Setar, and that made it rather attention catching.
The ambience – A rather charming place
At the turn of the corner, another little round yellow sign greeted us. We had found Hong Kong 8 AM. We could see staff moving around in the refurbished container. They were busy getting the place ready and there were some patrons seated in the restaurant.
We looked around. One of the things about the place that caught my attention was the tables. They were constructed from cut pieces of tree bark, hence they were all in odd shapes and sizes. This lends the place a rather non-conforming look. Some of the tables were also fashioned from wooden cable drums. There were proper tables too. Chairs were fashioned from tree bark. If improperly shaped furniture doesn’t suit you, you have proper stools and wooden chairs available too.
Then, I saw the river. Too bad that we no longer have clear-running rivers in Alor Setar these days. Almost a century ago, the river had clear running water. I have never seen rivers in Alor Setar clear but my mom’s friend’s late mom said she used to play in the clear river when she was a teenager. But that was a lifetime ago. I guess the clearing of land and logging contributed to it. Banana trees were growing on the bank of the river and it was obvious that work is still ongoing by the looks of it.
Not too far away was a bridge over the Kedah River which connected Jalan Tanjung Bendahara to Jalan Alor Mengkudu. Hidden among the trees, you can sip your morning coffee and enjoy the rustic setting. You can even read if the weather is not too humid. They do have fans all over the place to keep you cool.
This is Hong Kong 8 AM. The facade is all glass, and I realised a short while later that the sun hits you straight on for an hour or so after that. But the place is air-conditioned. Doctors say the morning sun is good for us. So you can have your breakfast in a cool place while basking in the full glory of the morning sun.
We decided to sit outside as the morning was quite cool and I guess, being able to sit in such a setting, for me, beats sitting in an artificial one. I mean, how often can we have our breakfast minus the sound of traffic or other city sounds? When the menu came, I learned that Hong Kong 8 AM is actually a franchise from Penang, but I think this one probably has the most rustic (and charming) setting.
Their range of breakfast is quite extensive. I ordered their Springy Noodles with Pork Chop and Dumplings in Soup. My friend had the Polo Bun with Butter and scrambled eggs. We ordered two different versions of coffee.
I’ll just put up their menu here as we had a little mishap, and it disrupted the photo-taking. Remember the tables fashioned from cable reels? Well, we forgot that the table had a small hole in the middle, and as we were moving the Dumplings in Soup to get a better angle, we missed that little hole, and one of our coffee glasses tumbled over. Quick reflex spared either of us from getting coffee stains on our clothes. But it put a little dampener on our breakfast experience.
Food was okay. The noodles were springy as claimed in the menu. The pork chop was tender to bite. I actually found it quite nice. We had to wait 15 minutes for the polo bun to bake. Yup! It’s served fresh from the oven. When the bun came, it was warm and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, rather fluffy. It also had an enticing buttery smell that makes you want to dig in immediately. The scrambled eggs complimented the bun quite well, if I might add. Dumplings were tasty enough, and you don’t feel that they have scrooged on the ingredients. These days, with prices of food skyrocketing, many eateries compromise their food by cutting down on certain ingredients.
The 3 main items and 2 coffee plus one repeated order of coffee came up to RM51.20.
It’s a nice place to have breakfast, given the fact that there weren’t many people on the morning that we were there. This place is still quite new, and many people till do not know about it yet. We had a view of the river. A boat or two chugged by, with fishing enthusiasts trying to land a catch. It was quite relaxing to watch them fish. I think it’s a nice and quiet place to just sit, relax and sip your coffee while you watch the world pass by.
Oh ya, the place doubles up as a lounge and cafe at night. You can get western food such as chicken chop and spaghetti accompanied by a glass of mojito… yup, it is a place to get a few drinks at night if you fancy one but that will be fodder for another post perhaps.
Would I go back there again? The answer is probably yes. I would go back for their polo bun and try their other offerings. They have other ham offerings and macaroni dishes that would probably keep kids happy and wanting more too.
Check out also:
- Laksa Ong @ Taman Ampang, Alor Setar, Kedah
- Tiffz Coffee Gallery @ Alor Setar, Kedah
- Premium hot pot @ 鸡煲之家 Chicken Claypot House, Alor Setar, Kedah
70%: Price (value for money)
79%: Overall Rating
Open daily from 8:00 AM to 2:30 PM
(Closed on Tuesdays)