Friday, September 24, 2010
Cafe de Hong Kong 新天地小厨 - MissTamChiak Outing
Hello there. Come closer...
Don't be afraid...It's only a reptile giving you a hand. A big hand.
Yes. Somewhere, some crocodile is missing a paw...hope it's not hobbling along too painfully...
Well, there aren't many reptiles that are edible, but you can count the mighty and fearsome crocodile among them. This is probably the first reptile I've ever eaten (I have so far managed to avoid eating turtles, lizards and snakes). Stewed crocodile palm - tastes very much like beautifully tender braised pork trotters, but with lots more gelatinous collagen (or at least I hope that's collagen!). I have also heard of crocodile meat being described as "fishy chicken", but that wasn't quite so here.
This is at Cafe de Hong Kong, at a blogger outing organised by cheerful Miss Tam Chiak, who blogs brilliantly in Chinese, by the way! I am glad I finally got to come to Cafe de Hong Kong, after hearing so many raves about it. And this meal was no less than a feast, as you will see.
We started off with the Fortune Seafood Roll. The brittle and lacy batter was not oily at all, and the seafood paste within was rich-tasting.
Stir Fried Red Garoupa Slices with Roasted Sauce. This was excellent! Fresh firm chunks of fish tossed in a most savoury sauce, with garlic, ginger, scallions, chillies and shallots. It was so tasty, I think we all wanted more of this. Plate-licking good.
Braised Duck with Sea Cucumber. The piece of duck I got was really tender...melt-in-your-mouth tender! The braising sauce worked well with all elements - duck, sea cucumber, mushrooms and vegetables.
Stir Fried French Bean with Minced Pork and Garlic. The beans were a wee bit fibrous and overdone today, but I had it again at another occasion (yes, I went back soon after) and it was perfect then.
Pumpkin Paste and Salted Egg Golden Prawn. So creamy and decadent! The pumpkin and salted egg yolk were accented by curry leaves and chillies. And the prawns had been fried so crisp, we could eat the shells.
Stir Fried Yau Mak Choy with Dace Fish. I saw quite a few dishes made or flavoured with dace fish in Hong Kong. I normally don't like yau mak choy (a relative of Romaine lettuce) and prefer all lettuces fresh instead, but the chef managed to cook this perfectly - delicately wilted but retaining a crisp, good crunch still.
Nam Yu (Fermented Beancurd) Roasted Crispy Chicken - it took a lot of work to make this chicken! It's marinated overnight, then given a wash of black vinegar, dried for at least two hours before roasting, and then given a flash fry before serving. But the end result is so worth it!
Just look at how thin and crispy the skin is! Isn't this piece just begging you to put it on your mouth?
We thought the meat might be a bit dry given that it looks so well-roasted, but we were surprised. It was very juicy, tender and moist. This chicken comes with a dip of red nam yu that complements it well.
It's best to order the chicken one day in advance, given the amount of prep work it requires. This and the crocodile paw too.
Stewed lamb brisket. What a comforting pot of body-warming goodness. The lamb isn't too gamey (but then again, I have no aversion to mutton, so others may differ). I love the fried beancurd sheets that soak up the flavours of the soup. They don't thicken the broth here, so you can drink it all up. If you like, ask for shredded kaffir lime leaves - it adds a different dimension to the soup.
Fragrant Fish Roe Fried Rice - what a party of colours! This dish looks so eye-poppingly festive, and it also goes pop-pop-pop as you bite into it. The little red beads of fish roe add that unusual texture. The rice is also fluffy and each grain is nicely separate. However, I find the flavours are fairly tame, so this is still quite safe to have as an alternative to steamed white rice.
And now for dessert...
Cafe de Hong Kong has the Best French Toast with Peanut Butter ever. Thick, pillowy soft slices of bread are coated in egg batter and deep-fried, topped with a thick slab of butter and then liberally doused with golden syrup or honey. Sinfully awesome.
Cut it open and see the peanut butter within. Even if you eat nothing else, you must have this! Enjoy it with the well-blended "nai cha" (milk tea) - but take note that the tea's rather sweet too, so let them know if you prefer it less so.
The owner Francis and his chef are both from Hong Kong, and this cafe started out more as a cha chan teng (hence its name) but diners were soon asking for more robust dinner fare. So they came up with a more extensive menu (full menu is online, complete with prices).
Service here is fast, earnest and very heartfelt. It's a cheery and non-pretentious dining spot, and all the artwork in the cafe is done by Francis' kids. Amazing, I say!
I really enjoyed the outing - with friends new and old. Many thanks to Maureen for organising this, and to Francis as well for taking such good care of us. This sumptuous meal of more than ten dishes cost the 13 of us only S$30 each, which I think is an absolute steal!
I soon had the chance to bring more friends here, including a dear friend from KL, but that's another post for another day!
Next time I must try the salt & pepper lobster. Been eyeing that a while!
CAFE DE HONG KONG
586 Balestier Road
#01-01 Eastpac Building
Open Tue–Sun: 11.30am–3pm, 5.30pm–12am
(Closed on Mon unless it's a public holiday)
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