Hong Kong truly is a melting pot of flavours, and nowhere is this more evident than in a typical cha chaan teng, where eastern and western flavours seamlessly merge together. Café Hong Kong on Hollywood Road is the newest example of a cha chaan teng that aims to “rekindle the memories of yesterday”.
These local diners became popular around the 1960s in Hong Kong and remain popular today. I have personally always found them a little strange and more than a little unhealthy, but I was intrigued by the new Café Hong Kong and its promise to serve quality ingredients and zero MSG.
The two-storey space offers a vintage-meets-modern feel, with dark wood furnishings, high ceilings, antique radios and vintage posters all over the walls. It feels more elegant than your typical cha chaan teng and yet equally welcoming.
Café Hong Kong’s menu offers all the dishes you’d expect to find at a Hong Kong tea diner, plus more. To celebrate its opening, the restaurant is offering a pretty amazing deal: all-you-can-eat dinner for $128 per person, to give diners a chance to try as much of the menu as possible.
We started with a selection of dim sum, prepared by the restaurant’s specialist dim sum chef. The siu mei and har gao were delicious, with perfectly delicate skins and fresh ingredients. I’m never usually a fan of Chinese beef balls, yet these were a definite exception. The beef was beautifully tender and carried a distinct hint of ginger that I loved.
Borscht soup is something I’ve only ever eaten atop a mountain after a morning of skiing, so I was surprised to find it served at Café Hong Kong. With the sudden temperature drop last week, this rich, warming soup, made with beef brisket and nine different vegetables, was just the ticket.
Café Hong Kong prepares its steamed rice with Chinese sausage and chicken in two separate china steamers. The chicken steamer is placed on top of the rice one, in order for the yummy ginger, scallion and chicken juices to drip down onto the rice.
I was admittedly a little nervous of the baked pork chop with rice, as it looked gloopy and incredibly heavy, yet I was pleasantly surprised. The rice, having been boiled with lard and then fried with eggs, had a sweet, delicious flavour on its own that paired beautifully with the tender pork, rich tomato sauce and gooey mozzarella cheese. It was indeed a little heavy, but the taste outweighed this.
The instant noodles with chicken in premium soy sauce was possibly my favourite dish of the day. The noodles had a satisfying bite to them, whilst the soy sauce from Kowloon Soy Company (apparently one of the best in the world) was sweet and flavoursome.
Every cha chaan teng serves French toast. Café Hong Kong serves peanut butter French toast that is every bit as tasty and every bit as greasy as it sounds. I couldn’t handle more than a small bite of this, but it paired nicely with another typical item: milk tea.
The 90-minute all-you-can-eat promotion is available at dinnertime only from now until 29th February 2016. In order to avoid food wastage, each diner is only allowed to order three dishes to begin with; once they have finished these, they can then order more. It’s worth booking a table and choosing one of the three seating times: 6pm, 7:45pm or 9:30pm.
If you’re not going for the all-you-can-eat promotion, Café Hong Kong is still very well priced, with most dishes between $30 and $100.
Café Hong Kong is a fresh take on a traditional cha chaan teng that is sure to become a favourite amongst Hong Kong foodies looking for some nostalgic comfort food.
Café Hong Kong
G/F, 15 Hollywood Road
Tel: +852 2806 0220