December 26, 2013

Random Boxing Day lunch

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I Love Lubutin finally has a day off from work, so we decided to do lunch together.  She suggested that I pick "somewhere that I normally wouldn't go", and the original thinking was to venture far away from the center of town.  For a variety of reasons, we ended up in Causeway Bay, and were walking towards somewhere when I started throwing out random restaurant names in the neighborhood.  Red Pepper Restaurant (南北樓) was one of the names I shouted out, and somehow that seemed to stick...

We always joke that Red Pepper is a "gweilo restaurant" that one only goes with expats and tourists... much like American Restaurant (美利堅餐廳).  In fact, the only time I was there must have been at least 7 or 8 years ago, and I DID go with a bunch of expats.  None of my local friends, and certainly no "foodie" friend, ever talk about going there... since the food isn't really "authentic" and the decor looks like it belongs in a Chinatown.  Like American Restaurant, the clientele is predominantly expats and tourists.  I must have walked past it a hundred times during all these years, and never once had the urge to push the doors open and walk in.

But hey, it fits the description of "somewhere I don't normally go" perfectly, so why not?!

There were only two of us, so the number of dishes we could reasonably order was limited.  We ignored the "Chef's Recommendations" and picked a few dishes we thought were particularly "American Chinese"...

Fried prawns with pepper and cashew nuts (宮保蝦球) - I dunno why they didn't label this "kung pao" since it's a name familiar to most Americans and possibly other expats and tourists.  Anyway, this wasn't too spicy, so I was able to take it.  Served with deep-fried perilla leaves.

Dried fried string beans with minced pork (干扁四季豆) - no surprise that the kitchen didn't spend much time frying the beans until they're drier... Only once in my life have I ever come across something that is remotely close to what mom makes.  Would have liked a little more garlic.

Diced chicken with bean sauce (醬爆雞丁) - also came with perilla leaves, and a dark "brown sauce"... The chicken was tender, and I was a little surprised to see chopped celery in addition to spring onions.

Sichuan hot noodles (擔擔麵) - the dan dan noodles came with a very red-looking soup, which should have been a warning about the amount of heat it was packing.  I, of course, ignored it and slurped quickly... and had the chilli burn the back of my throat.  The noodles were good, though...

I was pretty full, and I'm glad we didn't order any rice.  None of the dishes were bad, but then again, none of it was particularly tasty.  I'm glad we did this today, but I don't think I need to come back for... oh, say, another decade?

I Love Lubutin seemed unsatiated, so we trekked over to Danish Bakery (丹麥餅店) for a snack.  I've been wanting to check out their hot dog for a long, long time... and finally got the chance today.  The bun's exterior is a little drier compared to the ones at Wing Lok Yuen (永樂園), and the mayo-based sauce doesn't have the same degree of tanginess.  But satisfying nonetheless.  Taken with a cup of hot coffee, this was the perfect finish.

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