Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Solitary Lunches

when I'm all alone, down and lonely.... oh heck I sound like a bloody crappy song!

I like being alone. Sometimes. I don't need to ask anyone where they want to eat. I don't need to defend my weird food choices.

So on rebellious days I eat lunch alone. When lunch at home is comprised of leftovers. When I feel like spending a bit on myself. When I want to try a resto and can't wait for company.

In Soho, weekday lunches are great value for money. You eat 2-3 courses for less than HKD 100. If you're lucky, less than HKD 60.

I tried V-best tea house one day. It's not easy to find. A small, quiet eatery on the "other" side of Elgin street, it boasts of a long tea menu. I am a tea drinker myslef, but that time I didn't bother reading the menu because I was famished. I sipped the house tea delicately enough, but wolfed down the Shanghai style dumplings with lettuce and broth. I like Shanghai-style dumplings because I enjoy biting into the slightly chewy but slippery outer dough encasing a mixture of pork, pork fat and cabbage. I like dipping the things into Chinese vinegar garnished with strips of ginger. After the dumpling I ate a bit of lettuce then drank the hot, tasty broth that warmed my insides like only Chinese-style clear soups can.

At Bistro Manchu, which serves Manchrian food, obviously, I was only able to try the set lunch composed of a spicy salad (mostly greens from the allium family which I do not like but I fished out and finished off the roasted peanuts) and, not surprisingly, dumplings in broth. I don't know if Manchurian and Shanghainese dumplings are supposed to be the same, but they tasted exactly alike. Hmmm, not exactly. V-best had better texture while Bistro M's was more flavorful.

Next time I want to try V-Best's smoked duck breast with rice or broth and Bistro M's Manchurian specialties.

I'm quite easy to please. I love Crystal Jade's (a Shanghainese franchise) dumplings and la mian noodles.

Yesterday I sat down, after hitting my head on an incongrously placed stepladder, on Life Cafe's al fresco top deck. I had a lavander iced tea with lime and what I assume to be organic, raw sugar syrup. Not bad, but there was a bitter tea aftertaste and the lime was too pronounced.

Their pumpkin tart platter was quite the artwork. On one side sat the salad composed of various shades of green, tossed with shredded orange carrots, deep red beets and white alfalfa sprouts and served with a lemon-herb house dressing that was pucker-up delightful. On the other, a burnt orange triangle posed with bits of dark green broccoli peeping out, topped with diced red, green and yellow capsicums, with melted cheese oozing from the middle. The medley of colors and vegetables was proudly held up by a honey-hued whole wheat crust. I like that the pumpkin and broccoli were in big chunks and not overbaked. The crust was a bit on the sweetish side. It was a filling, healthy meal but hubby would never eat there. Lentil burgers? He'd rather have the real thing. Or McDonald's. But i'd like to try that soon. it comes with caramelized onions and roasted potatoes on a whole wheat bun.

Before I left I bought a piece of "healthy, fat-free" brownie with whole wheat flour, organic chocolate, raw sugar, a lot of zucchini and banana. Hubby was not in the best of moods after one bite of the monstrosity. I enjoyed every bite and saved half for my dessert today. It actually doesn't taste much like brownies, but I like the sweetness and the chunks of everything in between. All in all, a pleasant lunch at a pleasant place. Not cheap, though. But then, healthy and organic never is.

I will take a real fudge brownie anytime, though. The fat-free stuff is okay, but not for everyday. Good gracious, I live to eat!

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