Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Dim Sum Diaries (Part V - Snacks)

Hong Kong has long developed its own snack culture: a blend of East and West, proper and junk food.

Milk tea (nai cha) is the local brew that got us through many a blustery day. Like proper teh, it is made by blending tea leaves and brewing them in a long metal container for hours. The stocking-like cotton bag filters out the leaves before the milk is added. Nai cha is served almost anywhere. At its worst, it tasted like very strong and good teh-si-kosong. At its best at Lan Fong Yuen, who practically invented this drink, it was a magical brew of great strength and smoothness. A hot french toast sandwich oozing with kaya and topped with melting butter was a perfect accompaniment. Lan Fong Yuen also did great pork chop with instant noodles: the pork was so tender I thought it was chicken at first.

Yuan yang at Saint's Alp [sic] Teahouse was an epitome of smoothness as well despite what initially seemed a confused drink of coffe and tea.

Assuring me it was a Hong Kong staple and no food trip would be complete without it, Hong Kong friends practically had to tie me down and feed me the dubiously-named Ginger with Steamed Milk. Spluttering, I could only mumble that it lacked the tea that would transform it into a very good teh halia.

Just off Lan Kwai Fong, almost everything on the menu at Hang Fa Lau is good. They have a cold dessert of pomelo, mango and sago called Yang Zhi Gan Lu (here I revert to Mandarin) to which I was addicted. It's not on the menu.

Tak Seng Hou Egg Rolls were the best I've tasted. Brought a big tin back for my colleagues and I can hear the tin being cracked open throughout the day. Brought some to bible study and it was well-employed for illustrative discussions on predestination, election and human responsibility. It's (the egg rolls, not the bible study) fluffy and crunchy and much more pleasant than our hard splintering love-letters. The coconut flavour's best.

At 10 degrees at night with a steady cold wind sweeping down the streets, there was nothing better than to be able chew at Ben & Jerry's scoop on a cone at leisure, not worrying about it melting into a sodden mess on our shoes if left unattended.

The mango desserts at Hui Lau San are addictive.

Lan Fong Yuen
Gage Street, Central

Saint's Alp Teahouse
almost everywhere

Hang Fa Lau
D'Aguilar Street, Central

Tak Seng Hou
64 Java Road, North Point

Ben & Jerry's
D'Aguilar Street, Central

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