Friday, September 12, 2008

A Taste of Hong Kong

The Village in Sanlitun is a new development from Swire, a Hong Kong-based company that also owns Cathay Pacific.

And the retail complex is a crazy piece of architecture that's funky for a city that loves straight lines and big boxy buildings.

It has jagged edges sticking out and coloured glass with shades of orange, red and mauve.

It houses stores like Apple, Nike and Adidas, Starbucks and Uniqlo.

And if you've had your shopping fix, you can get some Hong Kong grub at the Herbal Cafe.

The Cantonese restaurant promises no MSG, and less oil which is music to the hears of Hong Kong expats who have a hard time adjusting to Beijing's generous lashings of oil and chillis.

It's a nice, upbeat setting, and tonight there was a cool breeze going, which would have been perfect to dine al fresco, but all the tables outside were taken.

Nevertheless we sat inside in a booth and I had fun looking up periodically to a big screen showing short movies and crazy animation shorts.

The menu is almost strictly Cantonese. The steamed shrimp dumplings (18RMB) are pretty good, and sweet and sour pork with pineapple (38RMB) was OK.

We also had stir-fried broccoli (22RMB), and Hainan Chicken (52RMB), which was more meaty than flavourful, so it was a bit of a letdown.

But the best was the soup -- Cantonese style.

Called "8 Hours Essence Soup", there is a large selection, but unfortunately only one is available as the soup of the day.

Today it was Almond, Sea Coconut and Pork Shank Soup (33RMB), and it arrived in a thermos. You poured the broth into your bowl and it was piping hot, just the way it should be.

It wasn't oily and tasted delicious -- practically like homemade soup.

The thermos was good enough for over two bowls of soup. And as my friend didn't want the rest of his portion, I was left drinking lots of soup.

I've been craving Cantonese soup in Beijing for a long time so this was a welcome relief. Soups in the Chinese capital are practically non-existent, or taste more like water than soup.

Looks like I've found my new hangout for my soup fix.

Herbal Cafe
The Village at Sanlitun
S6-33 Third Floor
19 Sanlitun Road
6416 0618

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