One of the simplest comfort foods that I’ve actually posted a recipe for here is “macaroni soup” aka Soupy Macs – in Cantonese-Chinese, it’s “toong sum fun” (hollow heart noodle). I honestly grew up thinking it was something my mom invented – ham, broth, and elbow macaroni, some frozen veggies, and there you have a very easy dinner for your kids, especially when it’s cold and/or they’re sick. But as I got older, I discovered most of my Cantonese friends’ parents also made them something similar when they were growing up.
And I discovered HK Cafes… that is to say those cafes that serve a mishmash of what I term “a HK interpretation of what Western/European meals are like” – I mean, in Cantonese, it’s “sai chan” or “western meal” – so… let’s just say, Chinese people have a really bizarre understanding of what Westerners eat. Borscht has no beets in it, for example. I could go on and on about this and why I grew up with such a misguided understanding of certain dishes, but that’s all been explained across my blog many times…
My point, however, is that my favorite HK-style cafe closed down a long time ago (WingSing on Bowery), where my father would take me and I would happily devour baked casseroles of rice covered in what some might call strange items. But when BFF mentioned a place near her home that made soupy macs, I knew immediately that it was the type of place that also served my beloved rice casseroles. And one horribly icy winter day, she suggested going for soupy macs and it was just perfect…
… because this huge Styrofoam quart of soupy macs – with plenty of mac underneath my egg – with fried egg on top came to $3.25. It’s $2.75 without the egg. The yolk was still runny, so when I accidentally popped it, it thickened that broth like so YUM. Screaming hot when it was served, it warmed us both right up.
This place has zero in terms of ambiance or atmosphere, and every time the door opened, cold air blasted in, but that helped cool off my soup to an edible temperature, ha.
I can’t go to a place like this and not order my beloved ‘baked fish with cheese and cream sauce over rice’ though – which was maybe $6.50? Not expensive. This was perfectly satisfactory – it hit all the right notes in terms of what I wanted it to be – but it didn’t come anywhere close to what I used to get at WingSing (“baked grouper with cheese over rice”). The previously frozen fried fish filets were fine, the cream sauce was fine if a bit gloppy, and the rice had veggies mixed in along with a scrambled egg (like a very plain fried rice). I found it satisfying to eat, though I don’t believe I’ll ever find a place that does it just the way my old place did. Sigh.
Everything is dirt cheap here – seriously, that whole bowl of soup was enough to fill BFF for dinner and was $3.25 – so two soups, one rice dish, and two “lai cha” (milk teas) came to about$16. Ridiculously cheap, considering I could have been totally happy with just the soup.
While it’s far from me and not quite reasonable for me to take two buses just to go there, I enjoyed my visit and wouldn’t be against returning. This place is definitely on my radar and a possibility sooner than later – along with a few other places that turned up while I was searching for this one’s info.
Comfort food at its finest… cheap, too!
*This type of food might not appeal to people who didn’t grow up eating it… just a warning…