Love ‘old-skool’ H.K diners that seemed to have froze in time back in the late 80′s?
Then this awesome ‘hide-away’ cafe serving some authentic Hong Kong ‘fast food cafe’ style food is the place to be!
This funky little cafe sprung back into my mind as I was reading one of my favourite blogs ‘Grab Your Fork’ when it mentioned about this cafe I had forgotten temporarily. As I read the review, I was immediately transported back to my high school daze, as though it was like an old MTV replaying in my head… I remembered those ‘cool’ days, rocking out my ripped Levi 501′s, Hound Dog t-shirt and Stussy skater shoes – when my besties and I would catch the L90 bus out from Dee Why and venture out to the City and make a day of it. I would of course also show them around Chinatown – and how I would introduce them to the retro HK food at ‘Ching Yip’ or better known as ‘Tim Tim’ in Cantonese ( meaning: ‘Sweet Sweet’) Sweet! Those were the days…. and revisiting this cafe was almost like stepping back 10 years into time -as nothing looked like it has changed much. Same was the neon pink lettering sign that gives the whole entry a soft and retro glow,same are ‘tacky’ plastic flowers for decor and best yet is the cylinder cake fridge which does not display any cakes – but an ‘artistically’ arrangement of lemons. ( I assume they ran out of space in the kitchen and could kill two birds with a stone by combining storage vs. art) With such a large amount of lemons stacked up – one can only assume these are gathered and used for the very popular HK cafe style drinks which always asks for slices of lemons: ceylon red tea, hot lemon coke and ever popular ‘lemon water’ ( Yes. Basically it is boiling water with a slice of lemon and you add the packet of white sugar…delightful!)
Now onto the food.
The food is awesome. Nothing spectacular but in every way, comforting in the sense that it appeals to my ‘Hong Kong cafe style food’ liking. It is non pretentious, it is not fancy but just tasty and ‘sloppy’ food. Sloppy, not in the way it is bad – but just how HK cafe style food IS good for and I love that. The Hubby’s order was a ‘Baked Pork Chop Rice’ This is the ‘safe option’ at most Chinese cafes – as it really should be a ‘no fail’ ( Or at least that is how you can test the cafe’s quality and authenticity) So in this case…. ‘Sloppy’ tomato sauce covered rice with all the ‘kitsch’ goodness of the slightly ‘baked/burnt’ marks over the sauce which covers a huge piece of fried pork cutlet that is flavour-somed yet tender and somehow a perfect compliment with the frozen peas and corn fried rice underneath. Genius!
This is accompanied by the ‘Daily Soup’ which both The Hubby and I get with our meals. What I also love is the ‘Soup Of The Day’ that accompanies the dinner sets and makes the meal out in this cafe so homely. Tonight the soup is a Chinese styled broth made with generous amount of lean pork and pork bones and some ‘unidentified vegetables’ which was lovely with bites of soft pearly barley for texture. The colour is a bit dull, but this is the kind of soup that taste better than it looks. I love how something as simple as the ‘Daily soup’ can be comforting to me -growing up in a Chinese house hold and visiting my Grandma’s place, being offered a bowl of ‘home made soup’ as you come home from school or from visits to Grandma’s place – soup is like a ‘warm hug’ and that is so nourishing.
Although the soup at Ching Yip is nothing as ‘sweet’ or as nourishing as the way my Grandma and my Mum makes her soup – the bowl I was served on this rainy evening, warmed me up none the less.
My friends, a lovely couple from my church who came to dinner with The Hubby and I ordered some stirred fried noodles with lean pork strips and pickled cabbage and ‘Special Set Menu Of The Day: Chicken with special sauce on rice + daily soup. This was the same as what I ordered.
The stirred fried noodles with lean pork and pickled cabbage looked delicious as it arrived promptly to the table. It was indeed ‘ sloppy’ and the sauce glistened with the generous portion of chubby egg noodles scattered with pieces of pork. From the ‘MMmmmmm~!’ coming from Mrs P – she gave the smile of approval and ate the dish happily.
Mr. D’s and I ordered the same ‘Set Menu Of The Day’ and the Chicken with special sauce came out quick and fast.
Our crispy skinned 1/4 chicken with a good cover of a ‘mysterious’ brown sauce was served on a bed of fluffy white rice. The size was very generous and I was thinking I would not be able to finish – yet I dig in and curious to know what the ‘brown sauce’ was. ( We guessed it was most likely chicken gravy seasoned with the ‘Maggi’ sauce) The taste was definitely as I expected – similar to something I would have eaten at Hong Kong’s most popular chain cafe franchise ‘Cafe de Coral’ ( Hubby and my favourite cheap eat’s in HK on a budget)
Mr. D loved his ‘brown sauce’ so much – he inquired for more from the kitchen. Calling out to the ‘party of waitresses’ standing by chatting, they happily gave us a full bowl of sauce – The Hubby thought he would be as ‘charming’ as people are in HK – addressing the lovely waitresses as ‘ Excuse me pretty lady!’ *cringe* but somehow a bit of flattery went along way, as the sauce we were given was in a large soup bowl, which I jokingly said to Mr. D ‘ I think they are expecting you to drink it like soup with a spoon!’
Overall – my re-visit to ‘Ching Yip Coffee Lounge’ was very pleasant and even had Mr. D and Mrs. P wishing to come back again soon to sample more of their kitsch menu offerings. Already we are happy to try out the cheap $6.00 breakfasts of toasts with a bowl of soupy macaroni and choice of hot or iced cold Ovaltine. This is VERY H.K and we all love it!
With our tummies full and smiles all round from our ‘HK cafe’ experience – both from the decent food at a very decent price ( $20 for Hubby and my meal and I think we even got change for it…) Our band of waitresses bid us farewell ( how polite!) and as we take our last glance at the lemon cabinet with a few jokes… we get in the elevator time machine and transport ourselves back to 2009.
For a visit back in time ~ be sure to give this cheesy H.K cafe a visit. ( Sense of humour and an appreciation of ‘sloppy’ HK style food required)
CHING YIP COFFEE LOUNGE
L2, DIXON HOUSE, 413 SUSSEX ST, CHINATOWN
7 DAYS, 9.00AM-8.30PM
(No bookings required ~ spontaneous rock up is best!)