Monday, December 15, 2008
Ribena with Lemon (凍檸賓 "doong ling bun")
Ribena is supposedly beginning to make inroads into the States through the "Ribena, I know what you're drinking" line in Estelle and Kanye West's American Boy. (I say "supposedly" because for the longest time I didn't know that was what was being said until I read it in a blog.) Of course the British way of drinking it involves adding booze, while people in HK have—you guessed it—added lemon.
I was actually introduced to Ribena with Lemon via a commercial that I found kind of cute:
At first I was afraid it would just taste like fruit punch, but I love how the lemon gives it a bit of a tang and although the Ribena tastes sweet at first, it finishes off with a deeper blackcurrant flavour. Since then I haven't ordered the drink; it's one of those that costs extra with a meal (even the hot version) and it tastes a little too much like summer for December!
Watercressade with Honey (凍菜蜜 "doong choi mut")
When I first heard one of my co-workers order a "菜蜜", my first thought was "What? Vegetable juice with honey?" It was after peeking at a menu that I realized the vegetable in question was watercress (西洋菜). And no, this isn't watercress juice, it's the liquid that remains after you boil a huge pile of watercress. If you add slices of pork, salt, and other things to it, it becomes watercress soup, something you can occasionally find on my dinner table when I'm having supper with family. So I was a little skeptical that adding honey would get rid of that vegetable-y taste and make it yummy.
I was a little surprised to find that it didn't have a trace of the distinctive soup taste. In fact, it reminded me a little bit of those Vita Chrysanthemum Tea juice boxes I had all throughout elementary school. Perhaps because of the amount of honey? Since then I usually ask for a less sweet ("少甜" siu teem) version, but still none of that green-y taste, which is great. I've since added the hot version to the "rotation" of drinks I order now with lunch (hot lemon with honey, hot lemon tea) just because for the past while I've been a little overzealous in poking my lemons and making my drinks a little too tart. According to Wikipedia (in Chinese), this stuff is now sold as a condensed "squash" like Ribena. In fact, to cut down on costs, some HK-style café owners will use this instead of honey in their lemon with honey drinks! (Those bastards!) Which allows other owners to advertise that their stuff uses real honey and charge you extra.
Coffee with Lemon (熱檸啡 "yeet ling feh")
When I first saw this on a menu, I imagined myself telling my boyfriend (who helped me acquire a taste for coffee by taking me out for brunch all of the time, really) and listening to him make that sound that he makes when I talk about things that he finds disgusting, like Brussels sprouts. (I've since learned that it is spelled "Ach", as I witnessed on Skype when telling him about an expensive "Biblical Hebrew for Beginners" book I saw at the bookstore.) I forced myself to order it because I knew I was planning this entry and even in my head I thought I was going to reject it. I mean, don't people usually associate sour coffee with coffee of poor quality and/or has been sitting out for a while?
OK, so if you get it out of your head that coffee's supposed to be a creamy, dairy sort of beverage, then remember to add a pack of sugar, coffee with lemon is not that bad. It's like tea with lemon, but with a richer, more bitter aftertaste. I don't think I'd order it again, but I did manage to finish the one that I ordered.