Thursday, October 8, 2009

Unforgettable Tastes

Whenever I'm in Hong Kong I need to get my fix of good Cantonese food.
While there are many new restaurants popping up in Beijing, some offering quite delicious dishes, northerners can't get the delicate and sophisticated taste of Cantonese cuisine quite right.
My aunt and uncle treated me to great dim sum at the Metropole Restaurant in Admiralty, where I also bumped into a friend I haven't seen in two years! The giant place gets packed quickly so we got there before noon. We had wonderful steamed shrimp dumplings, steamed chicken buns, steamed squid with a bean sauce, barbecue pork pastries, kale with oyster sauce, and I finished with a giant bowl of tofu dessert with syrup.
I also had a wonderful dinner at the Chinese restaurant Gallop at the Hong Kong Jockey Club in Happy Valley. Our dishes included baked cod fillets, steamed egg with shrimp, tender beef braised with onions and deep-fried squid in a light batter.
One of my last Hong Kong meals was at Mak's Noodle on Wellington Street, just off the Mid-Levels escalator.
I used to eat here periodically after a day at the office. It's quite famous for its wonton noodles served in relatively small bowls and that were quite expensive.
That hasn't changed at all.
The place looks exactly the same as I last saw it, with its laminate tables, hard-backed booth seats and elderly men taking orders and serving. At the window is the cook, spooning broth or cooking noodles.
I had a bowl of braised beef tendon with wonton noodles. In minutes the small bowl arrived, the small wontons peeking from under the mound of egg noodles and beef tendon on top.
The beef tendon was cooked for so long that it almost melted in my mouth. I missed this taste, as northerners don't seem to know how to prepare it, which basically entails letting it simmer for a long period of time. It was also braised in a beef-based sauce, thus having a rich taste.
And the wontons were just the same as before, small bites of crunch shrimp, bamboo shoots and wood ear fungus wrapped up in a skin. The noodles? Al dente as usual.
While I tried to eat slowly, it didn't take long to finish the bowl. The waiter asked me if I wanted another bowl, but that would be breaking the bank.
That small bowl was HK$40 ($5.16) and my uncle jokes you'd have to eat at least four bowls just to be full. Nevertheless, it was great going back to a neighbourhood haunt and discover some things are still the same as when you left them.


beijingoffice said...

Beijing has many food specialities. i'm a huge fan of chinese food.

ChopSuey said...

was this the place across the street from your apt in mid-levels? I loved their wontons! I am drooling just thinking about them! they certainly don't make it like that here in TO.