Last Saturday I took up the role of a Chinese wedding master – traditionally performed by a woman – for a former female colleague. Both families were impressed but the pleasure was all mine.
It was a remarkable accomplishment to complete the big day, seeing to it that all the traditional rituals are done perfectly and customs observed properly without missing the slightest detail.
After a full day’s work, I arrived home at midnight and threw my exhausted body onto the bed right away.
I was hoping to spend my entire Sunday lazing around at home, but it was scaldingly hot; the Observatory said it was 37.6 degrees Celsius.
So I left home and walked to the Kennedy Town waterfront, hoping to get some fresh sea breeze. However, the air was so polluted I couldn’t even see the Stonecutters Bridge on the other side of the shore.
Feeling so dull, I looked for a restaurant to have my dinner. On Hau Wo Street there’s a tiny one called South Taiwan Comfort (五斗米).
I was not exaggerating when I called it tiny. It could only accommodate 10 dine-in customers at best.
The air-conditioning was a bit weak and the open kitchen design made the place even warmer. Since I was in the mood for Taiwanese food, I ordered a bowl of noodle soup and some side dishes. A glass of iced plum juice was a must-order of the night to fend off the heat.
This shop features four Taiwanese noodles or rice, five braised dishes and three special snacks. It serves only the island’s signature beverages.
So it’s not surprising that the menu is short. After all, it is not some Hong Kong-style cha chaan teng where they never run out of ideas or choices. Anyway, it’s the food that matters, and the dishes here show a strong character.
A young waitress told me that it was more precise to say their dishes yielded a taste of her hometown – Tainan, or South Taiwan.
The entire staff, except for one, are all from Taiwan. But they all speak Cantonese, albeit with an accent. It’s delightful to know that they’re all willing to learn our local tongue.
The noodles in my bowl of beef noodle soup were quite chewy with a great fragrance of flour, while the soup base was refreshingly clearer than that offered in most of the other famous Taiwanese restaurant chains in Hong Kong. Probably it’s due to the pickled vegetables.
I really could not tell if I had the genuine taste of Tainan cooking; I am not an expert in this regard. But what I’m certain about is that delicious food deserves our respect and so I cleared my plate of braised minced pork noodles with no trace of the food left.
While I was enjoying the sumptuous dinner, I noticed eight customers were waiting for a table at the shop front. The waiter was thoughtful enough to serve them iced plum juice and winter melon tea.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 2
Translation by John Chui with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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