Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Alternative Hong Kong Kitchen

I have eaten my fair share of Hong Kong style cuisine. If there was such a thing as being a professional consumer of Hong Kong style cuisine, I would be it. But Hong Kong Kitchen in San Gabriel showed me there can still be some things up their sleeves that I have yet to try.

(Vegetarian Jai Lo Mei Sampler)
Their signature dish Jai Lo Mei. I know it's nothing new, and that many Buddhist restaurants have served this dish for many years. But I rarely actually frequent those restaurants since my family's not Buddhist. Nevertheless, eating these marinated tofu skin was of a different, but appealing experience.

They came in four different flavors including tomato, curry and two others that I can't remember anymore. They were very juicy and each one had a distinct flavor. There were three of us so it was the perfect number since there were three of each flavor. Normally I get annoyed with restaurants serving three servings on a plate. I mean you have most of your tables seating four people, but you serve three on a plate. Those restaurants are just trying to force us to get another order, which would result in two left overs. Never mind that, today it did work out in our favor.

None of the flavors were actually very strong, just enough to be distinguishable, since the tofu skins themselves have a subtle taste to it. They were served slightly warm.

(Baked Pork Chop Rice)
I'm a big fan of baked pork chop rice. They are generally served in a tomato paste over the pork chop and the rice. The pork chop themselves were actually really good. They were soft and easy to chew and very flavorful. The tomato sauce was ever so slightly on the sour side, but still a very good one. They used egg fried rice as the rice underneath, which gave the whole dish a wonderful aroma and the rice a nice grainy texture.
(Stir Fried Vegetable)
I can't remember the English name of this vegetable. I have issues with names of vegetables because I learned half of them in Chinese and the other half in English. It's a bit problematic. For the longest time I thought the Chinese name for spinach is the Chinese name for broccoli. Never mind that though. This was a standard fried large dao miu. I would translate it to bean sprout, but I think that's wrong. It was slightly oily, but not to the point of being overbearing. It's good to have some veggies in my system these days.

(Fried Dumplings)
I have to say I hate dumplings that are soaking in sauce. I don't like heavy sause, and I don't like heavy sour sauce. This dish was free, as a gift for spending twenty dollars today. But still, I am not a big fan of dumplings soaking in sauce. I want to taste the juice of the meat, and I prefer that restaurants let me decide how much of that sweet and sour sauce I want on my dumpling and not have that decision be made for me by them. Please, give me the sauce on the side next time. I'm a grown man. I know how to handle my sauces with care. Less is more. I do have to give them a little credit, the sauce wasn't completely unbearable. It was slightly over-powering, but given the fact that the dumplings were soaked in them, I was still able to taste the natural flavors of the insides of the dumplings.

(Pumpkin Fried Rice)
I been to Hong Kong kitchen a few times before and I remember having a fried rice with pumpkin in it. I thought it was the pumpkin fried rice, but I think it was a different dish. I think it was the mixed grain pumpkin fried rice that I was thinking about. This pumpkin fried rice was your normal fried rice with some pumpkin in it. I'm not thrilled about the taste of this dish, as it was slightly on the bland side. But combined with the heavily sauced dumplings and the baked pork chop rice, this was a nice lighter and slightly healthier dish.

Hong Kong kitchen is a departure from the standard Cantonese cafes in the area and is definitely a great alternative whenever I'm sick of having Cantonese cafes (which is hard for me to be). There are definitely some unique dishes here that's worth coming to you won't find anywhere else.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Papa Walk Has More Than Shaved Ice

I have been to Papa Walk a few times before. I've always loved their shaved ice as dessert. But this time I ended up going for the actual meal. I did crave for their shaved ice, but since there were only two of us, we didn't order it. I had been eating a lot recently and I wanted to cut down a little.

(Beef With Spinach Noodle Soup)

(Spinach Noodle)

I had tried a few of the Taiwanese dishes Papa Walk offered on their menu before. This time my dad went for the Taiwanese beef stew noodles, which contained spinach noodle instead of egg noodles. The soup was not overly heavy, which is to my liking. I don't like my food to be way too heavy and very often Taiwanese soups can be like that. The noodles were firm and chewy and was flavorful. Spinach noodles are supposedly healthier for you. I did enjoy them whether or not they are healthier for me. In fact I think I do prefer them over egg noodles, which I never liked to begin with.

(Sizzling Beef with Rice)
(Rice & Veggies for the Sizzling Beef)
The sizzling beef however was a bit too oily and slightly sweet for my taste. I'm not a big fan of Taiwanese food mostly because of the enormous amounts of sugar they tend to use in their foods. It does taste good, there's no doubt, but then what food wouldn't taste good with excess amounts of oil and sugar in them. It was definitely not the healthiest thing I could have eaten. Once in a while I suppose is acceptable.

(Tin Tea Pot)
I am old school when it comes to tea. Something about tea being served in these tin canisters just hits the right spot. I suppose a lot of this is just childhood nostalgia. Nevertheless the old school tea, despite it being very generic and boring tea, gives Papa Walk a street side dining feel indoors.

Papa Walk is hidden behind the stairways inside the Hilton Plaza. It's a bit hard to find if one wasn't really looking for it. But it has built its reputation mainly on their dessert. But the true gem of this place is really the fact that I felt slightly transported away from the cold hard feel of metropolitan Los Angeles, and back to a simpler times on the streets of Taiwan.

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