DSC01020.JPG | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong



Street scene with some stalls, a woman under a parasol and several men eating something. These men are sitting on a curious kind of seat. I believe these stalls are Dai Pai Dong, open-air food stalls. 

© UMAG, Hong Kong


Dai Pai Dong in the past used to put a long bench in front of the stalls, and a few low stools (凳仔) above the long bench for customers to sit on, a bit like having sushi at the counter today. I don't see the long bench anymore these days.

Dear Nwong, 


Thank you so much for your quick reply. Is there any difference betzeen the Dai Pai Dong of the past and the few Dai Pai Dong that still exist today? And do you have, perhaps, amy idea of where this picture might been taken?

Dai Pai Dong these days still look rather like those in the old days, except without the long bench I guess. I cannot tell where the picture was taken. Maybe other oldtimers on this forum can spot a thing or two that provides a clue.

Thank you! This is maybe a better picture: http://www.seewide.com/upload/article/201603/1456893325184416432.jpg 

Greetings.   Those tiny wooden stools are not designed for big or tall people; and you bend your knees to fit in. Your cook prepares the tasty food right in front of you.  These older units shelter you from sun and rain, and they close shop at night by swinging down the panels.  Some have tables and chairs in the rear.

In my HK years, the popular dong's were those, separately, serving BBQ duck/goose, fish meat balls/rolls, assorted beef, tea/coffee/drinks breatfast and lunch, morning conge with deep-fried dough, up to the more expensive restaurant-style dishes.

Today's Dai Pai Dong serve you essentially the same kind of dishes, and since they have much larger kitchen area and assistants, they can have more varieties and diners.

Someone can educate me on the original of the name.  I wonder if my translation dai pai dong = everyone/together line up/queue shop/store is accurate.  Regards, Peter

Dear Peter, 

Thank you so much for this nostalgic and accurate explanation. Wikipedia - with a source - says: "but dai pai dong literally means "restaurant with a big license plate", referring to its size of license which is bigger than other licensed street vendors."[1]

1.  Lai, Lawrence Wai-chung (2003). Town Planning in Hong Kong: A Review of Planning Appeal Decisions, 1997–2001. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press; London: Eurospan. ISBN 962-209-660-3.

Greetings.  Thank you Sander for the correction.  I never thought the pai refers to the license plate, and if any, I would think it refers to the big signage atop.  It was a joy for the boy to sit up there close to the goodies, and he wondered what combination of meats the cook would use from the lot.  In 1955, the price of a noodle soup with meat or wonton was no more than 30 cents.  Some dong's had one person manning it and his tasks included securing electricity and water. Regards, Peter