Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I’ve been hearing about this place since the first night I landed in Hong Kong. Cow Face. Even the name makes me hungry. Unfortunately it’s way out in Tai Po Market, only opens at one and tends to sell out of most of the good stuff (the face) in a couple of hours. So, it’s been tough actually getting out there to try it. Well, last weekend we made it and I’m already planning my next trip back. Rainbow Ryder, Lucky, Nickie and I arrived just before opening time and already the line stretched down the street.

Luckily there’s a fresh juice place next store so we had something to sip while we waited. Basically cow face is a beef soup noodle place. They are famous for their rich broth and their cow face soup which is basically stewed beef cheek and all those good facey bits. The beef stock is diluted to make the soup broth but you can order a side of beef that is served in the unadulterated super-rich pure cow face stock and add as much as you like (a lot) to the soup.

I ordered a cow face soup with thin egg noodles and a side of butterfly beef. The butterfly cut is something you really only ever see old heads in Hong Kong eating. At least I think it’s called butterfly beef... I can’t find the website I learned about it from now. Anyway it is SUPER FATTY. We’re talking at least sixty percent fat to forty percent meat and that’s the low end; most of my bites were ninety percent fat at least. In the picture all of that stuff that looks like cabbage or something is cow fat. See what I’m sayin’?

Now just think how amazing a piece of beef fat stewing all day long would be but...

the cow face was even better! A cow’s cheek is pretty much all connective tissue so you can imagine the magic that occurs after a day spent stewing. The meat gets so soft and all of the connective tissue completely dissolves and the fat becomes almost custard like so that you can literally swish the whole bite of beef and fat through your teeth, which by the way is my new test for beef tenderness. And if you think the beef sounds good just imagine what all of that fat does to the broth! Jesus! I want to put that thick beefy broth on everything: pancakes, salad, vanilla ice cream...

Now obviously I was partial to the meat but, you won’t believe this, the noodles were actually my favourite. I’m in the land of noodles and these were the best I’ve had so far. I ordered the e min, which Rainbow told is actually pretty rare these days. E min is a medium thin egg noodle which is often lightly fried. These noodles really got me going. They were very eggy and rich but also managed to really soak up the broth so that they had this real decadent eggy-beefy thing going on. Also, I insist this is true although my dining companions say I was crazy, they had this super subtle almost acidic bite to them that really did it for me. That, and they were cooked perfectly: fully cooked but you could still really sink your teeth into them and munch. Nothing soggy or slimy about these guys.

We also ordered the obligatory greens with oyster sauce which at first I thought was kind of a joke. Actually the oyster sauce proved the perfect foil to the rich soup and really helped cut the grease. Also I think the vitamins in the veggies might have saved my life, as I was starting to lose feeling in my extremities...

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