Day 82: Hong Kong
Wait, is Hong Kong really a country? Well, probably not. But it’s been a “special administrative region” ever since it transferred its sovereignty to China in 1997. But according to Wikipedia (where I may or may not have added all this information myself to legitimize it), Hong Kong “has a high degree of autonomy, is largely self-governing and maintains a highly capitalist economy,” it’s also on Wiki’s List of Countries and they even have their own currency! But what does that all mean? Well, since:
A) This website isn’t exactly a forum for debate on country legitimacy,
B) There are distinctively Hong Kong style cafés in Los Angeles— and
C) The food sounds really good…
…For the purposes of this Personal Food Project in Blog Form, I’m calling it a country and anyone out there who wants to dispute that can just go ahead and dispute it. And yes, that means you can expect to see Puerto Rico and Macau coming soon, too. But it also means I’m giving people a little more time to contact anybody they know who is from another country and might be nice enough to cook me the food from their homeland. Let’s really see how far we can push this thing before it’s gone for good.
So, in an evening that turned out to be remarkably similar to Taiwan Day, Mr. Meatball and I are driving out to San Gabriel Valley on a weeknight to meet “Danielle” for a China-related cuisine which may or may not count as its own country. But I guess that’s just how we roll. So Mr. Meatball and I find our restaurant, Tasty Garden, and discover that it’s actually right across the street from stop number one of eleven on our massive China Day adventure from a couple of weeks ago. What are the odds? (Actually, since San Gabriel Valley is packed with great Chinese restaurants, the odds may have been pretty good.) Once “Danielle” arrives, we sit down and start pouring over the restaurant’s extensive and picture-laden menu. Marinated duck tongue anyone?
We start off with a “Hong Kong style waffle”, which almost looks like a honeycomb, with little balls of sweet, fluffy waffle batter all connected together in one big piece. It’s really crispy, so segments are easy to break off, allowing “Danielle” and I to quickly start dipping them in our hot Hong Kong-syle milk teas (meaning they contain evaporated milk) which come with free refills. Mr. Meatball, meanwhile, has a rare beverage that roughly translates to “7-Up,” after stating “I don’t like milk tea.” Then the rest of the food arrives. House special rice in hot pot, whose clay pot gives it a great crusty bottom, has toppings that just might be a little much for our taste: vaguely sweet, chopped up pork, peas and a sauce that has a dark, murky element that drags the taste down a bit. I’m not willing to fully condemn it, though, and think I need another chance to fully understand it. Next time, I guess.
Strips of lotus root cooked with shredded beef in XO sauce (dried chopped up seafood cooked with chili, garlic and onion) tastes like what I would imagine good, continental Chinese food to taste like, even though my brain keeps thinking the lotus strips look like French fries, invoking thoughts of lomo saltado, the Peruvian fried potato and meat dish. The XO sauce is a particularly good choice today, as it was invented in Hong Kong in the 80s, making it the only Chinese-related food I can think of that I might actually be older than— other than maybe PF Chang’s. Our last dish has Mr. Meatball’s name written all over it: chunks of fried pork chop with chili salt. “This is every flavor of food I like combined together. Spicy, salty, fried and pork chop.” It’s airy, light, grease-free and just really great by itself, but also takes on delightful accents as you add any combination of chili sauce, soy sauce and vinegar to it.
Three milk teas later, I’m buzzing noticeably and ready to head back to the west side to decompress for the night. I drop Mr. Meatball off then get back home to spend some time with GirlfriendBites, who has been working on fancying the house up for Thanksgiving. We lay back on the couch, she starts falling asleep, then goes to bed as I stay up until the wee hours of the morning, beginning to possibly regret my foolish amount of caffeine consumption. But somehow, staying up until late in the morning feels appropriately Hong Kongian of me, so I decide to just accept it and listen to music for a while. Regardless, I guess this crazy ride will continue…for another day at least.
288 W Valley Blvd # 110
Alhambra, CA 91801
Food Breakdown: 3 non-alcoholic beverages, 4 dishes
Distance From My House: 19 miles