Wednesday, June 23, 2021


Once you descend the narrow street, the smells of toast, and tomato stews hit you. And you understand why this ramshackle cafe on Mei Lun Street is popular among the neighborhood people. Underneath the tomato scent, beef brisket soup. But you decide that it is too warm to eat hot food, and you amble on, to avoid temptation. Two blocks further something else.
Dried fish. Not strong. Delicate almost. And then, faintly, a ghostly hint of durian.
Maybe you should have stopped for someting stewy with tomatoes?
Perhaps you will. Next time.
Years ago I smelled durian while descending Sacramento Street at two thirty in the morning. So I followed my nose (always a bad idea) to the intersection of Valejo and Stockton, where a small lump of rotten fruit flesh peered up at me from the gutter. Six blocks.
It had sent its sirene aroma quite a distance.

Beef noodle soup with tomatoes is actually delicious on a warm day. So perhaps you should have stopped for a bite. Yes, they use instant noodles -- many restaurants do, it's an accepted local taste -- but made with fresh tomatoes, the result is stellar at a low price.

And, if an insane fit hit you, you might have durian afterwards.
I am intellectually more fond of durian than in reality.
It's one of those things stuck in the mind.
Or, quite often, the nose.

Like stinky tofu, Hong Kong people have a berserk love affair with it which is entirely baffling. Durian is quite delicious if you stop breathing for five minutes to enjoy the suggestion of vanilla pudding or custard, but once it's entered you nostrils it lingers, and hours later might come back to haunt you. So I can't say I enjoy it any more.

But I like introducing innocent people to its charms.

Beef noodle soup with tomatoes is much easier to like, and quite delicious. Nowadays most of my meals involve noodles, sometimes with fresh vegetables including tomatoes, sometimes with a curry broth. Nothing involving long simmered stocks or tamarind, because I'm lazy.
Just stuff thrown together with a careful plan. And chili paste, of course.

Sing Heung Yuen (勝香園) in Sheung Wan is a famous dai pai dong that has a reputation for pretty darn good tomato stew noodle dishes. Typical Hong Kong style, and your choices of meats include everything that you might add at home; luncheon meat, sausages, egg, odd meats, pork chops, chicken wings. And bacon.

"Please allow some time as all food are prepared fresh to order. Apologies for any inconvenience caused."

They also have toast with condensed milk, butter, and kaya.
And hot Coca Cola with lemon and ginger.

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