Saturday, February 07, 2009
This is my Aunt Shirley.
After my family left Hong Kong, my aunt took me on a few outings out of pity for the fact that I have few friends in Hong Kong.
The first outing we took started in Mongkok. We met at around lunch time, so she took me to one of the branches of Lok Yuen Beef Ball King (樂園牛丸大王) for lunch. I ordered the signature beef ball noodles because my aunt told me that their mixed ball noodles doesn't have any beef balls (???) while she ordered noodles that had more random beef parts (such as tendon and brisket). The beef balls were flavourful and had a nice, springy texture, and I also liked being able to choose the type of noodles I wanted, as well as the fact that the green onions/cilantro came separately on the spoon (See photos on Open Rice). We also shared a small order of fried fish skin.
We cut through a more southerly part of "Woman's Street" which my mom had never taken me to before (the space between stalls was much narrower and there were more knock-offs and electronics) to get to Langham Place, a big mall in Mongkok. After shopping for a little bit (and not buying anything), we decided to sit down in Match-too café for afternoon tea. Before I get into it though, I should mention that Langham Place is home to a *lot* of other good eats that include a Japanese ramen shop, a Shanghainese dumpling shop, and—get this—a shop in the food court that sells beef on a hot plate! You choose the cut of meat you want, and while the hot plate sizzles, you can cook your beef to the wellness you like before placing it on your bed of rice and veggies.
Anyway, back at Match-too, we didn't order very much, just coffee and cake - I decided to be "adventurous" and try a tofu cheesecake, while she settled for a blueberry cheesecake.
I was a little embarrassed that the one in the display case was not for consumption because it meant that my aunt had to wait. While the presentation was gorgeous and the cake itself was probably healthier than a regular cheesecake, I think I will stick to the New York. The tofu cheesecake was just too mild for my taste.
After a bit more shopping we headed down to Causeway Bay to wander around before we got hungry for supper. We ended up going to Gaia Veggie Shop (大自然素食), which was a real treat. It was a pity there were only the two of us, which kept us from trying a lot of the dishes!
When I first opened the menu, it was a page full of sushi. "Isn't this place vegetarian?" I thought, "I guess this is one of those places that categorizes fish as not meat." (I hate pescetarians who call themselves vegetarians - No, you're not vegetarian! You're eating life! You're eating FISH!) Then, as I flipped through the pages I realized that the chefs at Gaia were experts of fake meat. As you can see in the photos on Open Rice, while the west doesn't seem to have progressed much past soy dogs and soy burgers, the Chinese have figured out how to make fake fish, pork, beef, and chicken with ingredients as diverse as soy, mushrooms, and konjac.
We each started with a bowl of "shark fin" soup. I don't remember what flavour she chose, but since I'm a pumpkin fiend, I chose the Pumpkin "Shark Fin" with "Crab" Soup - much less expensive than the real thing.
I got a bowl of brown rice—to be honest, I'm not a huge fan—to accompany all of our main dishes. The first dish, Sweet & Sour "Fish", ended up being my favourite of the night.
The fact that the "fish" didn't flake properly made it obvious that it wasn't an animal, but otherwise the texture and taste were pretty accurate, especially since any "taste" would be overtaken by the sweet and sour sauce anyway. I also thought the pine nuts were a nice touch. Mmm how I miss pine nuts...
We also went for a more straightforward vegetarian dish of asparagus and fungi. I'm not usually a fan of wood ear, but it was ok here... Ironically it was the asparagus that was a little woody (Ha!) Apologies for the blurry photo - how did that get on Flickr?
We ended our meal with a fairly traditional red bean with Job's Tears (薏米) dessert soup. Again, sorry for the blurry photo; this one did not make it on Flickr.
I've always been a huge fan of vegetarian/hippie food so Gaia definitely didn't disappoint. I can't wait to go back to try more of their fake meat!
Lok Yuen Beef Ball King (樂園牛丸王)
G/F, 11 Fa Yuen St
Mong Kok, Hong Kong
+852 2384 0496
Match-Too Café (簡單廚房)
Shop 403, 4/F, Langham Place
8 Argyle St
Mong Kok, Hong Kong
+852 3514 4168
Gaia Veggie Shop (大自然素食)
502 Hennessy Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
+852 2808 1386