Looking at myself in the mirror, I couldn’t help but wonder if my current physique is the inevitable destiny of a middle-aged man or the result of accumulating years of experience as a food critic.
Apart from bearing an unmistakable belly, I have developed a much bigger body, compared to my teenage self.
My family has started to remind me to opt for healthier food.
As the cook of the family, I pay attention to the ratio of vegetables and meat and use as little oil as possible in making dishes.
Sometimes I would eat out at vegetarian restaurants, but it is absolutely unrelated to keeping fit.
I don’t go to eateries that offer faux meat. The reason has nothing to do with religion. I simply could not stand the oily and MSG-filled dishes of processed imitation meat.
Many vegetarian outlets in the city, especially the western ones, follow the simplistic style of cooking.
There are a growing number of “unconventional” restaurants offering some interesting Southeast Asian-like cuisines, but they’re not my cup of tea.
Kan Kee Vegetarian Food at Bowrington Road Market and Cooked Food Centre is one of the few Chinese vegetarian restaurants that I visit most often.
Though the outlet is right inside a busy and noisy wet market, Kan Kee, like its neighbor Wai Kee – a halal restaurant famous for its mutton curry and roasted duck – attracts quite a lot of devoted diners. In fact, many low-profile celebrities are their diehard fans.
Kan Kee’s biggest selling point is its unwavering dedication to Chinese-style dishes.
Since it is run by a single chef, one waiter and the owner herself, it is best to book a table in advance so that the small restaurant could provide you with the best food and service, says the shop owner.
With no MSG, no excessive oil or thick sauce, the genuine flavors of ingredients are mixed and matched perfectly by the chef’s excellent culinary skills.
Even a simple dish of braised tofu tastes much better than those offered by most of the renowned Chinese restaurants in the city.
Their menu is more or less the same over the years, and relatively short by today’s standards.
That said, customers don’t seem to mind and appear to enjoy the impressive hearty dishes created with ingredients in season.
Don’t miss the soup of the day. Those who love strong flavors could choose borscht, while I prefer the refreshing sweetness of gourd and corn soup.
One night I was delighted to begin my dinner with a corn-based soup with cashews and peanuts that was simmered until creamy.
I wasted not a single drop and the only thing left in the bowl was a bare corncob.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 19
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
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