One place that I visit without fail whenever I'm in Hong Kong is California Pizza Kitchen, a casual pizza chain that is a wonderful alternative to Pizza Hut.
Admittedly, I have a sweet spot for CPK. I was actually introduced to the chain many years ago by a friend who I don't get to see all that often. She raved on and on about their Potato and Leek soup, which became one of my big food loves. The soup's texture used to be consistently thick, slightly creamy and hearty. It also used to have small potato lumps that made the soup more substantial and filling. I continued to order this until last year when the soup started to get too salty and watery. Very sad!
However, I have moved on to a new love which is their pizzas. Unlike Pizza Hut, the pizzas at CPK are not oily or excessively dry. They crust is pillowy and the base has a slight sweetness and chewiness to it. They aren't as crispy as the ones that Pizza Hut serves up, but it's still really enjoyable.
For this trip to Hong Kong, I went once for dinner and twice for lunch at the Mong Kok store. For lunch, CPK has some lunch sets which range from $38-48 where you can choose between salads, pizzas and pasta. The meal also comes with a drink. From memory, if you order a soft drink or lemon tea, you are given unlimited refills.
We usually order a Spaghetti Carbonara, a Hawaiian pizza and a BBQ chicken pizza.
The pasta is creamy and entirely filling. There is just the right amount of sauce to coat each strand of pasta with flavour. Everytime we finish it, there is very little liquid left on the plate.
I am a fan of their Hawaiian Pizza which always tastes fresh and gourmet. The purple onions in the BBQ Chicken Pizza give it a boost of flavour and tang.
The photos I have included are the lunch time half portions. If you order a pizza for dinner, you will get the large size with 8 slices of pizza. However, the pasta seems to be the same size - give or take. When we went for dinner, we ordered a Pesto Cream Penne and the portion size was quite similar to what we had for lunch.
I actually prefer dining at CPK during their lunch service because it's better value for money and the staff are much more attentive. There is generally a lot less diners during the lunch service and the noise levels are low. It means we can sit there, have lunch and a bit of a chat without having to yell on top of each other or being told that we have to be out in an hour and a half's time - all of which are characteristic of a dinner session at CPK.
The Mong Kok staff during lunch are attentive, friendly, helpful and professional. When they sense your accent when ordering in English, they even attempt to speak back to you in English which is always a nice touch.
However, during the night, the is a serious shortage of staff and it's very difficult to get attention. The dim lighting makes it particularly difficult for hands requesting service to be seen. Also, the wait for a table with or without a booking is dizzying!
California Pizza Kitchen - Mong Kok
Shop A, 1/F
Ka Lok Shopping Arcade
56 Dundas Street, Mong Kok.