Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Neighborhood

So two things. First is I found my camera (it was under my couch) and second is that Lucky and I decided to move. We're planning on moving to Kowloon (one of the worlds, maybe the worlds, most densely populated places). Right now we live in Sheung Shui way out in the New Territories near the mainland border and about the closest thing to a small town Hong Kong has to offer. I'm excited to get to the bright lights and big city but I'm gonna miss Sheung Shui. I've become quite fond of this little town of cha chaan tengs and barber shops and I've grown especially attached to the snackies here. So, for this post I'm gonna give you a little photographic tour of my favorite (or at least most frequent) Sheung Shui snacks. These aren't always something special or michelin worthy but they are meals I eat almost every day and they all make me quite happy.

This is what I've just returned from eating and has been my go to late breakfast for the last week or so. I'm not quite sure the correct chinese for this dish but to order it I say something like min qi niu rou fan. Which means something like minced beef rice. The dish itself consists of a huge pile of white rice completely submerged in sweet tomato sauce with ground beef and a fried egg thrown on top for good measure. The sauce tastes super cheap in that bangin way. In fact it tastes almost exactly like the sauce in spaghettios. Delicious! When it is served you mix it all up so the egg yolk binds the sauce to the rice and the fried egg gets all shredded and mixed in. Often times this is served as part of a special set meal with a light broth soup and a milk tea or coffee for about $3.80US. I always spring for an iced milk tea which kicks the price up to a whopping $4.00US. All in all a hearty, delicious and affordable meal.

Now, I must take a moment to talk about the iced milk tea (冷奶茶). Basically they just brew the shit out some tea, pour it over crushed ice, then over-compensate for the over-brewing with way too much sweetened condensed milk. I cannot begin to explain how amazing this stuff is. And so addictive, I'm shocked the CIA hasn't already flooded America's inner-city streets with it. I drink this stuff everyday and it is making me kind of a fat ass but I figure if I really wanna be a food writer a little pudge gives me some credibility. Here's my boy Lucky enjoying his ice milk tea

This picture was actually taken at dinner a couple of days ago. I always go to cha chaan tengs for breakfast and lunch and Lucky said I was missing out on all of there dinner-fare so he took me out to one of his favorite neighborhood spots to try some. We ordered his two favorite dishes, Fish Fragranced Eggplant (鱼香茄) and Three Cup Chicken (台式三杯鸡). The fish fragrance eggplant is really a bad translation on my part. It is eggplant cooked in a thick sauce with salted fish and ground pork. This stuff is bangin, real filling comfort food with a really strong savory flavor.

This particular dish was especially strong. Cantonese cooking is all about the light flavors so strong flavors are usually a sign that the chef is covering up less than perfect ingredients. In this case that rule proved true as we found a maggot burrowed in one of the eggplant pieces had to stop enjoying this dish after a couple of bites. The other Lucky favorite was the Three Cup Chicken. Another heavily spiced dish of chicken chunks stewed with onions and a thick spice paste.

This dish was delicious. A perfect dish for a cold (50o) winter night, although I'm stil retraining my mouth to get used to the Chinese method of butchering chicken which somehow manages to leave at least a sliver of bone in every bite.

Probably my favorite type of eatery in the neighborhood (right next store in fact) is the roast meat or siu mei spot. The most common roast meats are duck, goose, bbq pork (cha siu) and roasted fatty port with crispy skin (check out the "pork map" in an earlier post). I'm sure you've seen these places in Chinatowns all over the place with the ducks hanging in the window but they are WAY better here. I absolutely love this stuff but its so rich and unhealthy (apparently especially frowned upon in Chinese medicine) that I can almost never get anyone to go with me. The other day I recieved the good news that I'd gotten the internship I was tring for so I decided to take myself out for a celebratory late lunch of fat meat and cold beer.

Check this plate out!!!

Thats crispy fatty roast pork, roasted chicken and BBQ pork. Yummy yummy. In order to get at least a little bit of vitamins I also copped a plate of garlic and broccoli greens. I kind of ordered the greens as an after thought but they were actually the star of the meal: Perfectly par boiled to a crisp and fresh iridescent green, lightly sauced and chopped full of whole roasted garlic cloves. Delicious.

Before we get away from the roast meats entirely I just wanted to share a pic of some of the Hong Shao Rou (红烧肉) we had the other night at the Shanghainese spot in the basement of the Sha Tin mall.


Some other neighborhood favorites of mine are the noodle soup places. I always order the extra spicy broth and the waitresses gather around to laugh as I choke and sweat my way through the bowl, my face covered with snot and chili oil. The way it usually works is you check off different ingredients on a list, pick your broth and kind of noodle then they go put it together for you. As of now my usual is beef brisket or duck meat, beef tendon, fish balls, fried fish balls, shrimp wantons, fried tofu and tofu skin in spicy broth with ramen style noodles. Sometimes I'll order sausage too but thats always a risk because sometimes they just throw a hot dog in (see below). I always order my soup with a side of fried fish skin. You dip the fish skin in the broth (it makes a nice popping crackling sound) until it is nice and soft then munch. So good. The fried tofu is especially good becasue it soaks up the soup like a sponge but the fried skin keeps it all inside in one juicy bite.

The last thing I wanna share about my neighborhood is the desert place.

I don't know if your familiar with chinese deserts or not but them shits is crazy. Chinese deserts are like what people on acid would think people on mars ate. They're mostly all neon colored and full of all kinds of wild textures. Want some chilled black gel cubes with condensed milk, how bout cold tofu with black sesame balls and suger water or highly sweetened corn stew with tiny neon orange cubes and a side of tapioca ice cream? I gotta give it to this place, there menu is huge. They must serve two hundred different deserts and the posters and chalk boards all over the walls advertise like a hundred more.

I wish I could say I've tried a lot of them but on my first day I got addicted to the black sesame ice with banana and mango. Now, I know that sounds basic but I can't even begin to explain how bizarre it is. The ice is oddly dry and almost powdery and is always either in stringy piles or odd gossamer ribbons. Basically its like eating a pile of frozen sesame flavored cob webs. To be honest the desert for some reason kind of reminds me of "The Secret of Nimh" and I LOVE it.

Alright I guess desert is a good place to end. I hope you've enjoyed the snackie tour of my neighborhood!

No comments:

Post a Comment