Bubba Gump's delivers seafood fit for a film crew, served up with a grand view of the island's Victoria Harbor. Mike Peters goes shrimping.
Mamma probably never said, "Order a whole mess of shrimp, and then stick your face in it until they're all gone." But since my own mamma loves shrimp at least as much as Forrest Gump's does, I had no qualms doing just that at Bubba Gumps.
That Southern-US style eatery has a well-deserved reputation for fun and value despite being part of the glut of Western franchises now perched on Hong Kong's Victoria Peak.
If you don't know the now international chain, Bubba Gump's is a spin-off of the popular Tom Hanks movie, packed with slightly goofy but never quite over-the-top charm. The place is decorated with the wit and wisdom of mamma and son, plus the old-timey signs you find in US diners.
Atop each table sits a pair of license plates hinged together as a swinging sign. The blue plate says "Run Forrest Run", the red plate says "Stop Forrest Stop." This is not merely cute but functional: Flip to the second plate and your server gets the message, coming to a stop at your elbow to satisfy your craving of the moment.
Some of this humor can go home with you: Specialty drinks and the large-size beer come in souvenir glasses you get to keep. (Actually, you'll pick up a clean, dry one at the souvenir shop.)
I'd initially been lured to Bubba Gump's by a colleague's promise of "the best popcorn shrimp you'll find in China" (HK$75, about $9.70), but I became distracted by a different appetizer. The shrimp and crab bisque, "an Alabama twist on a Low-Country favorite", was a savory delight.
Stuffed eggs (called "deviled eggs" in my mamma's house) got extra flavor with bacon and onion.
Shrimp haul on the hill
For an entre I went straight to Shrimper's Heaven (HK$208), which included four batches of Bubba's top sellers: coconut shrimp, "chilly shrimp", fried shrimp and tempura shrimp - served in four paper funnels with sides of coleslaw, fries, and dipping sauces.
It would serve two easily, but my lunch date couldn't resist the Dixie-style baby back ribs, so poor little me had that shrimp collection all to myself.
"Chilly shrimp" is not hot and spicy prawns but cold-boiled crustaceans, bright-pink and piled up in apparent anticipation of a dunk in red sauce. (This is Hong Kong, so don't worry - it's not ketchup.)
Cold-boiled shrimp is one of my favorite variations on the species, but I had to save that for last, alas, since the other offerings were piping hot but wouldn't stay that way.
There are at least a dozen other ways to eat shrimp here - most about HK$150-$220 - including stuffed and baked, "dynamite" (Thai-spice), chilled and peeled in a cocktail glass, New Orleans-style in garlic batter and fried in butter, stir-fried with veggies, skewered and scampied.
Another favorite also comes from New Orleans: Lt. Dan's Drunken Shrimp, which are large, chargrilled critters served up with andouille sausage, mashed potatoes and bourbon sauce.
That's almost enough to make mamma forget about a box of chocolates. But if you really have room for dessert, consider That Chocolate Thing, a special jar of warm flourless chocolate cake topped with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, all drizzled with raspberry sauce (HK$75).
We opted for the lighter key lime pie ($HK60), authentically tart, sweet and delicious, before we waddled to the souvenir shop.