Hong Kong Style Café: The old and the new
It’s 3:30pm on a Saturday afternoon. My mom just woke up from a short nap when my sister and I came back in after walking the dogs. Ah, it’s tea time!
No, we were not hungry, but having tea on a Saturday afternoon is simply a neat thing too do. And today, we decided to go to a Hong Kong style café to have that tea (and coffee for me), and very possibly, some snacks to go with.
When it comes to Chinese eateries, dimsum restaurants probably top the popular list. Yet there are other Chinese frequent restaurants that serve anything but dimsum, for instance, congee houses, noodle places and the most interesting of all, Hong Kong style café.
What do you expect to find on the menu? Familiar Chinese stir-fries and stews, S.E. Asian curries, chowmeins and fried rice are Asian portals. East meets West dishes from Double-layer French toast to Macaroni with ham slices and peas in soup, oven-baked Portuguese style pork chop on rice to Spaghetti with ham cooked with ketchup, to name a few. You can also find set breakfast, lunch of dinner menus, all include beverage of your choice, such as Hong Kong style tea, coffee or yin-yang (tea & coffee mix), Horlick, Ovaltin and lemon tea make with a stack of fresh lemon slices. Sorry, no refills.
Here in Metro Vancouver, there are the old and the new of HK Style Cafes: The old ‘Chinatown’ version and the new Hong Kong version. While the former often has a bakery out front, the latter offers west coast and international menu choices as well.
Mainly found around Chinatown area, Old style café restaurants usually open early and close around 9pm. Compared to the newer cafes, they often have a smaller menu and tend to stick to the same items, perhaps due to the fact that most customers are regulars from the neighbourhood and folks working nearby who know what to order without looking at the menu. Fresh from the oven baked goodies also play a role in satisfying diners’ hunger and cravings.
Modern café restaurants pay more attention to the décor and ambiance and have a much bigger menu with more western flavours and drink choices, therefore do carry the ability to attract a wider range of customers, even adolescents. They may not open for breakfast, but do stay late. Different menus, one for Asian meals, one for western cuisine and one for snacks are delivered to the table. To new comers, the menu choices can be quite confusing. But if you feel like Seafood paella, roast chicken with salad and pasta, and even Rib-eye steaks with baked potato, you won’t be disappointed!
Both old and new HK Style cafés offer special ‘Snack’ or ‘Tea-time’ menu which comes with a drink for $5 to $8, a great choice for small appetites. Do check out this menu first.
Henry & Stephanie’s favourite Metro Vancouver HK Style Cafes:
Boss Restaurant & Bakery: 532 Main, Vancouver. 604-683-3860
Kam’s Bakery: 2419 Main, Vancouver. 604-874-4041
Maxim Bakery & Café: 257 Keefer, Vancouver. 604-687-0949
New Town Bakery: 158 E. Pender, Vancouver. 604-681-1828
Angel Café: 5995 Fraser, Vancouver. 604-323-8948
Café Gloucester: 3338 Cambie, Vancouver. 604-873-3338
Ken’s Restaurant: 1097 Kingsway, Vancouver. 604-873-6339
Westwood Café: 1045-1163 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam. 604-552-0628
Ming Tak HK Style Restaurant: 8363 Granville, Vancouver. 604-263-1388
For a true Parisian-style afternoon tea pleasance, check out the beautiful Le Grand Thé this summer at the two Provence restaurants, served Monday to Saturday from 2:30-4:30pm. The 2-tier of dainty pastries and savories, complete with crème fraîche and Bonne Maman and your choice of tea or coffee, are yours for $20.00. Call for details and reservations. www.provencevancouver.com
Provence Marinaside, Yaletown: 604-68104144
Provence Mediterranean Grill, W. 10th: 604-222-1980