Fri, Feb 04, 2005 - Page 15 News List

Restaurant: Hong Kong (茶水攤)

Address: 6-2, Alley 136, Yanji Street, Taipei (台北市延吉街一三七巷六之二號一樓)
Telephone: (02) 2772 5252
Average meal: NT$100
Other: Cantonese menu only. Cash only. Takeout available

By Emily Drew  /  STAFF REPORTER

Hong Kong's cuisine is just like the real thing.


Walk into Hong Kong and you'll feel like you're walking into a Hong Kong gangster flick -- wooden booths, metal folding chairs, a takeout kitchen in front and the smell of Hong Kong cuisine.

The owner, Michael Lee (李文基), laughed when I told him his young and trendy Taiwanese clientele think his place is straight out of a movie. "Really? Well, I hear a lot of people come in and look at the menu and say, `Wow! Only Cantonese! It's just like Hong Kong!'"

The diner is also easy to accept because everything is inexpensive, especially considering the popularity of the place and the fact that it's offering foreign cuisine in generous portions. Meals range from NT$85 to NT$130.

Lee explained that Hong Kong cooking has long been influenced by both Cantonese and European traditions and the vast menu attests to this combination.

It includes several types of sandwiches, rice noodles, fried noodles, spaghetti, steamed rice bowls, other rice dishes, coffee and tea-based drinks and desserts -- all Hong Kong-style, so expect even beef noodle dishes and milk tea to be different than what you're used to.

In the movies, the gangsters always order buo luo xian you bao (菠蘿鮮油飽), a round steaming roll with a huge chunk of cold butter inside, and though that's on the menu for NT$35, I asked one of the cooks what she preferred and got a plate of thick rice noodles with seasonal vegetables and meat (NT$120, 時菜肉片河粉). She said many foreigners like it, but it turned out to be the most bland dish on the menu.

The light-colored sauce was smoky and the edges of some of the thick rice noodles were slightly singed, just how the dish is supposed to be. The sauce's green vegetables and mushrooms were fresh and steamed. The meat was fresh, tender and not fatty. My plate of thick noodles was mild, good and filling, but I was in the mood for something full of flavor and looked longingly at other dishes all around me in the bustling restaurant.

I regretted my decision to eat the foreigner's favorite and to stick with the free red tea, but my taste buds woke up when I tried my dessert, strawberries over Hong Kong milk pudding (NT$100, 草莓奶撈). It was unequivocally the best dessert I've had in Taipei -- ever.

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