Monday, June 21, 2010

Eat now, diet later . . . or never

It's my last day in Hong Kong.  My suitcase is full, so I can't do any more shopping.  Which means I don't need to squeeze my American-sized ass into more Hong-Kong-sized fitting rooms or -- worse, much worse -- Hong-Kong-sized pants.  (My derriere is totally miffed that an American size 4 or 6 is apparently a 42 -- a large -- in Hong Kong.)

This is all to say that I finally get to eat to my heart's delight.

And how very delighted is my belly today!  It's in such a good mood, it's willing to share documentary evidence of its happiness.

Image Source: I Eat Therefore I Am
Lunch today was spent at a hole-in-the-wall sichuan restaurant on Yiu Wah St. in Causeway Bay.  Sichuan food has a reputation for being exceptionally spicy, and my mom and aunt, concerned that we wouldn't be able to handle the heat, were trying to find menu items that didn't seem as spicy as the rest.

I, of course, was unfazed.  I am half-Singaporean and half-Vietnamese/Chinese; I use red pepper in my cooking the way most people use salt.

Bring it on, nameless sichuan restaurant.

Half an hour later, I was sweating like Richard Simmons at the nursing home disco.  My tongue felt alternately on fire and -- I know this doesn't seem possible -- painfully numb.  Everything tasted like chili -- or, more accurately, like CHILI.  Every dish we ordered -- dan dan mien (spicy noodles with meat sauce), sichuan chicken, paper-thinned sliced pork belly, chilled braised eggplant -- was delicious, I think (after a while my taste buds were so scorched I really couldn't tell whether something was yummy or awful).  But every dish we ordered was en fuego.

I chugged a glass of iced tea and a bowl of chicken soup, but the burn was persistent.

Nameless sichuan restaurant kicked my ass and made me its bitch.

And I think I liked it.

Image Source:
After the sichuan-style spanking, we retreated to Tongpakfu, a dessert shop, for shaved ice sundaes.  I usually don't like shaved ice; not even the Times Food Section can convince me that syrup on plain crushed ice is something worth allotting calories to.  But Tongpakfu (read my sister's review here) makes Taiwanese style "snowflake ice," which in all honesty shouldn't even come under the same category of food as conventional snow cones.

The "snowflake ice" is created using a special machine that integrates the flavoring right into the ice itself, so that every bite tastes like mango or green tea or chocolate . . . or whichever flavor you choose.  Also, the consistency of the dessert is more like a snowflake and less like ice: it's soft, almost creamy in texture, and very light.  The best part of the dessert is that you get to select any number of delicious "toppings" (well, more accurately, "bottomings," as they sit under the pile of ice).

I have a huge crush on the mango ice, but they ran out of mango today, so I had to go with the banana flavored ice instead.  With it, I got tapioca balls, little cubes of flavored jello, aloe, and -- my personal favorite -- passionfruit pearls.  The latter (pictured in the lower right quadrant above) look like the tapioca balls you find in boba tea, but are actually juicy little balls that "pop" when you bite into them.

Wait -- that sounded really dirty.

Anyway, they are passionfruit flavor bombs.

Image Source
Even though my belt was starting to cut off my circulation at this point, I decided that since this was my last day in Hong Kong, I'd better take one last visit to CitySuper.  Which meant that I had to get a Belgian waffle from Augustin's.

This Belgian waffle, I'm telling you, is unreal.  The scent of it fills the entire market section of CitySuper with vanillaliciousness.  It's warm, delightfully chewy (not dry and insubstantial like regular waffles), a little sticky, and just perfectly glazed with sugar or honey or nectar of the gods or crack (who knows what it is, it's good).  You can order it with Nutella, but I find it scrumptious plain.

Image Source

And since I was already at CitySuper, I figured I should take a visit to their bakery to carbo-load for my flight tomorrow.  The Little Mermaid Bakery makes the most amazing brioche sucre (above right): The brioche is buttery and delicate, but the very best part of it is the little wells in which more butter has been poured.  Then the whole thing gets a sanding of sugar and a sugar glaze.

It's a pillow of buttery goodness.

Image Source: I Eat Therefore I Am

Something so good though needs to be chased with something equally delicious.  So I picked up a few pandan buns from the Toast Box, a Singaporean snack shack, to go with the brioche.

What?  I have an EIGHTEEN-hour flight tomorrow.  A girl's gotta be prepared.

Top Image: I Eat Therefore I Am; Bottom Images: Tai Hing Roast

Before I get on the plane, however, there's still the issue of dinner.  Dinner at my grandparents' house is pretty much the same every night.  Every night, there's a steamed fish course.  Every night, there're two vegetables.  Every night, there're two meat dishes, usually a braised dish and a pan-friend one.

But tonight, since it's my last meal, the usual courses were supplemented by char siu (barbecue pork) from Tai Hing, which is widely considered the best Chinese barbecue place in Hong Kong (see my sister's review here).

Tai Hing's barbecue is great, but I probably find it more delicious since I generally don't eat pork back in Boston.  (The rules of Chewish living provide that prohibitions against tref foods don't apply when we're traveling in Asia.  If you have a porcine aversion in Hong Kong, you'll starve.)  I know Americans think they've got a monopoly on BBQ, but I assure you that a really good roast meats place in Asia -- not the gross, red-dyed spareribs you get at fake Chinese restaurants in the States -- can go toe-to-toe with a Memphis barbecue joint and win, Shaolin Master style.

And that's my last day of eating in Hong Kong.  Back to Boston, back to lettuce, back to low carbs.



Christina June 21, 2010 at 9:36 PM  

omg! I'm book marking this post! Am hoping to go back to HK in March next year. I have a lot of eating to make up for... Last time I was there I was so sick from my trek through China that I was coughing up green stuff and confined to my hotel for most of the 3 days I was in HK (except for when I went to the doctor's office to get 7 kinds of pills for my ills)

Christina June 21, 2010 at 9:37 PM  

PS I vote diet never! Life is too short to skip any meals!

PPS Great post... made me hungry!

Mrs. Hot Cocoa June 23, 2010 at 9:53 AM  

@ Christina: Ugh - there's nothing worse than being sick on vacation. If you go in March, definitely check out my sister's blog before you go: she's really the Hong Kong foodie; I'm just the tagger-alonger!

lavenderpug June 24, 2010 at 6:36 PM  

wow, all that food sounds aMAYzing. we only got to spend 12 hours in hong kong last april but from what we saw and ate, we definitely want to go back! i'm going to keep these tips, thanks!

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