“You have to go to the Kingfisher,” my grandpa told me before I moved to Hong Kong 20 years ago. “It’s on Carnarvon Road in Kowloon.”
“It’s the best restaurant in Hong Kong,” my grandma added.
So after I settled into my dorm at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, up in the countryside 20 minutes from the China border, I headed by train to Kowloon to find the Kingfisher.
My grandparents had last been in Hong Kong in 1982, and so when I set off on my search in 1990, I knew there was a chance the restaurant wouldn’t be there anymore.
“It’s the best restaurant in Hong Kong,” my grandma’s words echoed in my ears.
Carnarvon Road is shaped like a J, so I started at the bottom of the J and wound my way up and then back down the street, navigating through the thick crowds of Saturday shoppers.
I stopped in a clothing store where I saw some European shoppers. Maybe the proprietor spoke English and could help me out.
“Excuse me,” I asked him. “Is there a restaurant on this street called the Kingfisher?”
He looked toward the ceiling, as if ruminating my question, before shaking his head. “No.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. There’s no Kingfisher here.”
“Do you remember if there used to be one?”
“No, there’s no Kingfisher.”
I thanked him and left the store.
Maybe it was hidden by the weekend crowds on my first go around. So the next time I was in the area on a weekday afternoon, I thought I might have better luck.
Again, no Kingfisher.
I consulted guidebooks and tourist brochures, to no avail.
A month later, my grandma sent me a letter. “Did you go to the Kingfisher?” she wrote.
“It’s not there anymore,” I replied in my next letter. “I even asked a store manager, but he didn’t remember it.”
Recently I posted a question on Gwulo.com about my grandparents’ favorite restaurant in Hong Kong. The lovely Vanessa wrote back and included this matchbox cover from the early 1970s. She noted the H.K.B.C.C. on the matchbox spine–Hong Kong British Crown Colony. She also pointed out something else.
The Kingfisher wasn’t on Carnarvon Road.
It was on Humphreys Avenue.