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Hong Kong-style Western food - $6 entree w/ soup (borscht) ,salad, spaghetti, dessert, ginger coke & $4 breakfast

rworange Jan 9, 2007 07:01 PM

First of all, what cities/towns have these types of restaurants? The SF Bay Area has some of these ... and, of course, Hong Kong.

Second what is usually reliable to order and what should be avoided?

This wikipedia article says that unlike Chinese-American food which is Chinese food for Americans, Hong Kong Western food is American food for Chinese people.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kon...

Here’s a menu for a SF restaurant which, from what I’ve read is representative of these types of restaurants.
http://sanfrancisco.menupages.com/res...

In one the above joint the menu spans Chinese, American, French, & Japanese.

So for your soupy pleasure, in addtion to the borscht, there is clam chowder Japanese ramen, French-style onion soup, noodle soup, stew & porridge.

Appetizers & snacks can include escargot, egg rolls, California rolls, chicken feet or fish balls ... among other items.

Sandwiches ... Club ... peanut butter porky bun ... spam & egg ... tuna ... etc.

There’s bento-style boxes, curries, rice plates, chow mein, chow fun, prime rib, baked chicken Portuguese, fried fish, etc.

The $4 Western or Chinese breakfast includes toast, milktea, coffee, juice or soda.

As to that borscht, in a post about a SF café Gary Soup writes ...

“HK-style places often serve a borscht that's tomato based, not beet based. This may be an import of Shanghai's "Russian" soup (luosang tang). This is a very popular comfort food with beef, tomatoes, potatoes and cabbage.”
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/358480

The above place doesn’t serve ginger coke which is mentioned in the wiki article. It sounded good so I searched to see if I could make it ... turns out it is served hot ... coke boiled with ginger ... sometimes with lemon. It’s supposed to be good for colds.

Well, if in the Bay Area, here’s links to a few joints
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/358489

It seems like it would avoid the value meal for cheap eats.

What is your experience with these types of restaurants?

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  1. kare_raisu RE: rworange Jan 9, 2007 07:18 PM

    This is an awesome, revealing post rworange.

    It reminds me of the Japanese style of Yoshoku -- are you familiar with this?
    http://www.japaneserestaurantinfo.com...

    Where did you find out about this type of restaurants? You certainly are better than me at finding interesting, obscure cuisines - an interest of mine as well.

    Have you dined at any of them in the area?

    2 Replies
    1. re: kare_raisu
      rworange RE: kare_raisu Jan 9, 2007 07:23 PM

      No, haven't tried Japanese style of Yoshoku. Thanks for the link.

      A SF poster ... Dave MP ... posted about a Chinese restaurant he tried and mentioned the borscht. This was on the edge of the Russian district in SF, so it got me curious. No connection though since these places serve a different version of borscht.

      Anyway, one question led to another ... just thought it was interesting. These places have been reported for years on the SF board, but it just hadn't caught my attention before.

      Sounds kind of cool. I'm going to have to check some of the local versions. If I ever do go on that long-delayed trip, it would be nice to know of other cities that have these.

      Maybe you might post on the LA or California boards to see if there are any near you.

      1. re: rworange
        kare_raisu RE: rworange Jan 9, 2007 07:29 PM

        I tired the newspaper link on the wikipedia page - its broken...

        Do you think that the borscht is some sort of culinary artifact from the days that the 'white russians' lived in Shanghai to escape the Bolshevik revolution?

        The corn 'potage' is also common with Yoshoku cuisine - I recently had a version at a Yoshoku style restaurant in the OC area. More like eating cream.....

        I am planning a trip to SF very soon - I will have to add this to my list. Very Unique/

    2. kare_raisu RE: rworange Jan 9, 2007 07:40 PM

      I wonder how 'Denmark' porkchop is prepared - perhaps only a reference to the quality of the pork from Denmark?

      And the Portuguese Chicken - how great is the influence of the Portuguese from Neighboring Macau on Hong Kong style cuisine?

      4 Replies
      1. re: kare_raisu
        b
        Blueicus RE: kare_raisu Jan 9, 2007 07:43 PM

        Portugese Chicken is a dish where the sauce contains primarily yellow curry powder and coconut milk with chunks of chicken (boneless or not).

        Variations on "name the dish after a country" include

        "Russian style" = A red sauce with some vegetables
        "Mexican style" = "Russian style" with kidney beans
        "German style salted ham hock" = based on schweinhaxe

        Also, Egg Tarts are an idea imported from Portugese-style custard tarts, although a "Portugese-style egg tart" here is essentially the same as chinese-style egg tarts but white (unless you go to Macau, in which case they do make the more traditional looking and tasting Portugese custard tarts).

        1. re: Blueicus
          kare_raisu RE: Blueicus Jan 9, 2007 08:00 PM

          Hmmmm....how is that Portuguese though? Via India a la Vasco de Gama?

          1. re: kare_raisu
            b
            Blueicus RE: kare_raisu Jan 9, 2007 08:03 PM

            I assume India, since it's still a spice-based curry and not a southeast Asia-style curry... I'm still trying to figure out what makes Fortune Cookies Chinese :).

            1. re: kare_raisu
              rworange RE: kare_raisu Jan 9, 2007 08:51 PM

              I think it is the coconut milk. Here's more info about Macanese cuisine (Chinese-Portuguese).
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macanese...

              Denmark pork chop = Ham-lette? I don't know ... maybe an Indonesian influence.

              Yeah, a few of the links in that wiki article don't do much.

              Don't know the Russian history, but here's a picture of Chinese borscht.
              http://www.towngas.com/tgweb/txteng/c...

        2. Pei RE: rworange Jan 9, 2007 07:49 PM

          Great post

          HK Western food is popular in LA as well.

          1. b
            Blueicus RE: rworange Jan 9, 2007 07:50 PM

            A lot of them exist in the Chinese-heavy parts of Toronto and the GTA (especially since there were a lot of Hong Kong immigrants back a decade or two ago) and I used to go to them (and occasionally still do) a lot as a child. Bento boxes and Japanese-inspired dishes (like the udon) are things that have only recently crept into the lexicon of HK-style cafe fare.

            I would say that a native North American or European would turn their noses down on this fare as being very "unauthentic" and rightfully so, since many of the dishes are variations on sauce on rice or spaghetti (and as something different, baked in the oven as well)... but I take pleasure in it the same way some people would take pleasure in broccoli and beef or moo goo gai pan or chicken balls.

            And it is a place to get some cheap eats, breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, etc. And of course these are one of few places you can go get yourself a decent HK-style milk tea (or tea/coffee mix).

            1 Reply
            1. re: Blueicus
              pinstripeprincess RE: Blueicus Jan 10, 2007 09:47 PM

              i have to admit that there is something bizarrely alluring about these places for me. it might be that i never really liked rice as a child and the option of spaghetti instead (even if it was with a pork chop or steak) seemed much better.

              i've only been to these places not even a handful of times but they also span levels of formal service. from the quick order to full silver and tablecloth service. granted much of what i have tried leans much more on french and italian than portugese or even remotely chinese. definitely not quality food, but strangely addicting.

              i liked them when i was younger too because i could easily go with a few friends of mine for a cheap late prix fixe dinner when nothing else would be open.

            2. PeterL RE: rworange Jan 9, 2007 07:55 PM

              Popular in large concentrations of HK Chinese. Toronto, Vancouver, LA, Flushing NY, even Sacramento.

              1. The Chowhound Team RE: rworange Jan 9, 2007 08:20 PM

                Folks- Please note that the discussion of Hong Kong style western cuisine is appropriate for this board. For information about specific restaurants in specific locales that offer this cuisine, please post on the appropriate regional board. Discussion of, for example, L.A. restaurants is out of the scope of this board.

                Thanks.

                1. Dave MP RE: rworange Jan 9, 2007 10:23 PM

                  I went to Prince Cafe in San Francisco last night, and posted about it on the SF Board.

                  Here's the link:

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/358480

                  To add to this discussion, restaurants serving this type of Hong Kong Western food remind me of a Hong Kong equivalent of a New Jersey Diner. The menus really had a little bit of everything, including cheap dishes a la carte, late night snacks, full meals that include rolls and soup, etc.

                  Regarding borsht....is this common in other places? I suspected that this might have been on the menu of Prince Cafe because it is located in a Russian neighborhood in SF, not because it is a common 'western' food in Hong Kong. But I could be wrong.

                  Thanks rworange for your post...I find this really interesting too.

                  Dave MP

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Dave MP
                    rworange RE: Dave MP Jan 9, 2007 10:34 PM

                    Hi Dave, if you look at the wiki article in the original post, they mention borscht & clam chowder being standard Western Hong Kong dishes ... slightly irritating because while I was living in Connecticut there was no Chinese food in my town ... while thousands of miles away Chinese people in Hong Kong were chowing down on clam chowder. Seems unjust.

                    1. re: rworange
                      kare_raisu RE: rworange Jan 10, 2007 06:27 PM

                      :)

                      1. re: kare_raisu
                        o
                        olia RE: kare_raisu Jan 12, 2007 08:54 PM

                        a couple of bakeries in Manhattan Chinatown also serve it...never tried it to see how it compares to the real thing though.

                  2. notmartha RE: rworange Jan 9, 2007 10:36 PM

                    Those restaurants' names are generally postpended with the word 'cafe'. The menu is very long, as one set is really chinese food (chow fun, wonton noodle soup, juk, etc.), and the other is western inspired food.

                    Sometimes the 'western' food is kind of strange. Spaghetti is generally tomato ketsup sauced, not something remotely resembling Italian food. The Borcht is thin tomatoey, and the creamy soup is very starchy (and have corn starch/tapioca consistency). You can usually get either spaghetti, or rice with the western food entree, and a lot the places have weekend special that may include prime rib.

                    The portions tend to be enormous, especially with the western food. A order of pork chops platter will come with 2 huge pork chops, for instance.

                    The cafe is a good option if you want lots of reasonable quality food for good prices, and it's certainly better than the Dennys, etc. Another plus is sometimes the kids get tired of chinese food while the adults are not, so with this kind of cafe it's possible that everyone will get what they want.

                    With that said I don't tend to go to the HK style cafes. With such a diverse menu usually the execution isn't as good as I would like. I found most of them to be weaker on the chinese food department - western food seems to be easier as it's usually covered up with one sauce or another. For good quality and low priced chinese food I generally opt for a different type of restaurant (Sam Woo BBQ, for instance).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: notmartha
                      Pei RE: notmartha Jan 9, 2007 10:40 PM

                      Your description of the "western" foods is spot on. Everything seems a little watered down and/or starched up, with a liberal dose of frozen veggie mixes--peas in the chowder, carrots on the spaghetti, corn in everything. It's good from time to time, like some kind of east meets west cafe.

                    2. grocerytrekker RE: rworange Jan 9, 2007 10:53 PM

                      Indeed an interesting topic.

                      Tonkatsu is so common in Japan. I avoided it, too. Imagine what a Chinese would feel at a "Chinese American restaurant".

                      Jajangmyon & champong, widely enjoyed by the Koreans as "Chinese food" in Korea, are not enjoyed by the Chinese.

                      Kare raisu is the Japanese version of curry (rice), and is not enjoyed by the Indians. (This post was meant for kare raisu, but it ended up down here :) )

                      But these were all relatively cheap, definitely worth trying at least once.

                      Chow goes around and around...

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: grocerytrekker
                        kare_raisu RE: grocerytrekker Jan 10, 2007 06:32 PM

                        Grocerytrekker,
                        My favorite Korean dish is actually Jajangmyeon....did you read the wikipedia article on this? One guy is supposed to have eaten nothing but the black bean noodles for 5 years.

                        I have always been curious to find out about Indian (subcontinent) reactions to tasting the Japanese verision.

                        House's Mexican brand, Curry Casero seems to be enjoyed by the Mexicans I know.

                        1. re: grocerytrekker
                          Melanie Wong RE: grocerytrekker Jan 11, 2007 02:41 AM

                          Jajangmyon & champong, known as zha jiang mian and chao ma mian in Mandarin, are widely enjoyed by Chinese.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong
                            grocerytrekker RE: Melanie Wong Jan 11, 2007 04:49 AM

                            That's funny. And fascinating. (We should make a new topic for "All Chinese vote: do you like jajangmyon & champong?" I'll probably lose the bet. :) )

                            Now, are there any regional differences for zha jiang mian and chao ma mian?

                            I found your thread from more than 5 years ago! I know some Mandarin, why did you guys stop using the tones/inflection for pinyin?

                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/28741...

                            1. re: grocerytrekker
                              Melanie Wong RE: grocerytrekker Feb 12, 2007 07:33 PM

                              "I know some Mandarin, why did you guys stop using the tones/inflection for pinyin?"

                              One of the lead dogs said it creeped him out. (g)

                        2. wleatherette RE: rworange Jan 10, 2007 06:37 PM

                          there was a place several years ago across the street from new green bo in nyc's chinatown called steak specialist (it didn't last long). that's how i first learned a about hk-style western food. i was really to surprised to see a menu featuring things like "lamb brochette with spaghetti."

                          1. w
                            WHills RE: rworange Jan 10, 2007 07:00 PM

                            Los Angeles has a ton of these

                            Safe items include:
                            Hainan chicken
                            Curry
                            Spaghetti baked in meat sauce

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: WHills
                              b
                              Blueicus RE: WHills Jan 10, 2007 07:32 PM

                              Ahh yes, hainan chicken. My dad's been on an unending quest to find a really good one.

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