Wednesday, December 19, 2018

FOOD FOR THE HOWLING GALE: BAKED PORTUGUESE CHICKEN RICE

What with the recent closures and transformations in Chinatown, there is only one place nearby for Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice that I know of, and I cannot go there. It's not the fault of that restaurant, but the very nice waitress there three years ago wanted to introduce me to her single friend.

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Though I speak passable Cantonese, the concept of a date with someone who thinks in Chinese rather than English frightens the bejayzus out of me.
I am a middle-aged crackpot with a fondness for Monty Python's Flying Circus, Vladimir Nabokov's prose, odd study subjects like Talmud-Torah, Mediaeval History, the Dutch colonial world, and food (about which I know a lot). A Chinese-speaking immigrant from Hong Kong or the Mainland would find me rather queer, once she got to know more about me.
And we would have little in common other than food.

Besides, I smoke a pipe. Smoking is no longer socially acceptable.
Also, no career. No chance of owning my own home.

So I responded nicely to her suggestion at the time, and never went there again. Unfortunately there are far fewer chachanteng style eateries in Chinatown now.

[Chachanteng (茶餐廳) are restaurants that have strong milk tea. Not boba joints, and not American Chinese restaurants. The food selection is Hong Kong western. Chops, casseroles, French toast, fried noodles, stew (市都 'si dou'), spaghetti, and borscht (羅宋湯 'lo sung tong'; Russian soup). Which isn't Russian, by the way.]

The one I went to with Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice has revamped.

Upgraded the menu, and reduced it to one printed sheet.


But as regards one of my favourite dishes, I am out of luck. Their curry porkchops with rice suit me nicely, and they still have a good selection of rice porridge, plus some quite interesting looking new items, so I will continue to patronize them as often as before.

No Baked Portuguese Chicken Rice.
Guk pou gwok gai faan.


焗葡國雞飯

It's a simple dish. A layer of egg-fried rice is put in a casserole, chicken chunks, cubed potato and maybe bell-pepper spread on top, mild slightly coconutty curry sauce poured over. A sprinkle of cheese, and bung it in the oven for ten or fifteen minutes, till the chicken is cooked and the cheese bubbly. It can also be done by simply glopping some mild Chinese restaurant style chicken curry over the foundation of fried rice, and sticking it under the broiler. The approach is flexible, the result is what counts. Rice, egg fragments, chicken, potato, mild curry sauce. With a slightly cheesy golden layer on top.
Ideally one or two chunks of chouriço or linguiça are in it also, for a porky fatty flavour -- at home I'll make it with smoky bacon -- and it should be stressed that it is not, in fact, Portuguese at all, but a typical Hong Kong crossover dish. Nor is it intended for high dining or healthy eating.

Have it with one of two cups of strong milk tea, then head out into the typhoon and scramble up the bamboo scaffolding for another full shift on the highrise, twenty floors up. Energy. Filling. Not high fallutin'.
Formica table food.


Just add hotsauce.
Or sambal.




AFTER WORD

What used to be the New Honolulu (新檀島咖啡餅店 'san taan tou ka fei bing dim') on Stockton Street is now 新品味 ('san pan mei'), but has not yet opened for business. It looks nice inside. And I am curious as to what foods they will serve. Naturally I am hoping that it will be chachanteng food, which is what the Honolulu had -- they were a pleasant and reliable stand-by and fall-back -- and at the very least they should offer Hong Kong Milk Tea (港式奶茶 'gong sik naai chaa'), and club sandwiches (公司三明治 'gung si saam ming ji'). Which are great with a little hotsauce. Or sambal.




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