The Chungking Mansions on Nathan Road in Kowloon, Hong Kong are pretty much the stuff nightmares are made of. Think of a huge, knackered apartment building with tiny old elevators and battered flats turned into fluorescent-lit guesthouses named for random obscure countries. Then think of having to enter the building through two dim floors full of currency exchange places, cell phone hawkers, samosa sellers and general riff-raff. To get in any elevator you'll most likely have to wait online, and don't even think about making a quick escape down from a high floor. You'll have to let numerous elevators pass up and down and try to get on one until you don't hear the dreaded beeping of the overload warning. Could take 20 minutes of waiting. Now you have a good feeling for the Chungking Mansions.
Apparently 20% of the cell phones in sub-Saharan Africa have moved through this building. Also in this building? Bangin' Indian food. Now, I'm not sure how I chose the Khyber-Pass Mess Club up on the 7th floor of this beheamoth. There are tons of food options on the first and second floors, but Khyber-Pass was definitely worth straying off the beaten path. It's an apartment that is turned into one big room of long shared tables. Charlie and I went for lunch and were all alone aside from one other group.We ordered veggie samosas, garlic and plain naan, chicken shahi korma and mutton rogan josh. And some rice. It wasn't super cheap, but everything was really delicious. My korma had yogurt drizzled on top and was creamy and light. Dark meat was mixed with pieces of pineapple, cashews and maraschino cherries in it to lend sweetness. Sooooo much extra saucy-sauce was perfect to soak up with the huge portions of naan (we really only should have gotten one order.) Ughhh, it was some of the best korma I've had. I can never recreate korma the way it comes at a good restaurant, no matter how hard I try. :(
The meal was the perfect step away from Chinese food for a hot-second; we needed to take a break and regroup before that night's dinner on the streets of the Temple Night Market. The old man who was in charge at Khyber-Pass was just so nice. When we asked for the check, he even gave us 20% off! Weird business model, since we did nothing to deserve a discount, and ordered and ate without expecting one, but, OK. I'll take it! (OBV, since I'm unemployed in a foreign country and just paid a large-and-in-charge deposit on an apartment and now want to die of boredom and poverty; Charlie keeps saying we can't afford food.) Bottom line: if you survive the elevator and can find it, Khyber-Pass is your holy land.
Khyber-Pass Mess Club: Shop E2, 7/F, Block E, Chungking Mansion, 36-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong