Friday, July 17, 2009

Hospital Food

If hospitals all over the world serve what Matilda International in HK does, I think there would be a spike in admissions, longer-staying patients, and more visitors than usual.

My 7-day stay in this lovely place overlooking the harbour (with fabulous, sweeping views of Aberdeen, Lamma Island, and the few breathtaking mansions that line the Peak) was made all the more special because of the menu. Before I get into that, though, let me say that Matilda also has what it takes to be a premier medical facility.

Are the doctors professional yet reassuring? Yes. Mine were more than competent and a joy to encounter. Are the nurses and midwives knowledgeable, accessible and friendly? Most definitely. There were several Pinoys and it was great to be chatting to them in Tagalog. Are the facilities adequate? It's a 100-year old hospital blessed with modern equipment, spic and span public spaces while maintaining a classic, homey ambiance in the rooms (one friend thought I was in a bedroom with a hospital bed when she saw pictures).

What sets this hospital apart, though, is the food. Rumor has it a former hotel chef runs the kitchen, and after a week of "ordering" three meals a day, I can say with certainty that whoever is boss of that distant universe where my meals come from, can cook, and cook well. Oh, lest I forget let me say the plating is mighty pretty too (especially the salads).

Most hospitals will give you a choice of dishes from a very short (and blah-sounding) list. Some will just deliver tasteless looking mush on a tray, hoping you will be ravenous enough to finish it off and thank them for it (not to mention pay for it as part of your bill). At Matilda there is a menu to choose from, with both Western and Oriental breakfasts and main dishes, vegetarian options, pasta, sandwiches, soup, salad and dessert. The descriptions are well-written, similar to a restaurant, with nutritional info for each dish. Quite understandably, the prices can be steep compared to other HK hospitals. This isn't a problem for patients, who as part of their package are allowed to order 1 starter or dessert and 1 main dish for lunch and dinner, as well as their choice of breakfast. Family and friends who visit or stay have to pay, and pay they do, because they also want a taste of the food!

Here is a list of what I've been eating, and what family/friends have been ordering since I was admitted:

Peach juice, oatmeal cereal, bakery basket and fresh fruits
Congee with sweet corn and steamed pork and vegetable bun
Congee with mixed beans and seeds with steamed barbeque pork bun
Congee with minced pork with wok-fried rice vermicelli with chicken
Grapefruit juice with all-bran cereal, bakery basket and fresh fruits
Sausage Omelette with toast

Cappa Ham with Artichoke Heart Platter
Chicken Consomme with Vegetables Julienne
Mixed Garden Vegetable Soup
Potato and Leek Soup (Little boy loves this!)
Club Sandwich with Chips
Wheat Baguette with Smoked salmon and Salad
Baked Free-range Chicken Breast with Herb Sauce and Steamed Rice
Grilled Rib-Eye of Beef with Herb Gravy and Mashed Potato
egg Noodle in Soup with Wonton
Sweet and Sour Pork
Wok-fried Fish Fillet with Celery (the fish was tough and overcooked, I guess you can't have everything)
Wok-Fried Broccoli with Chicken (I have to say that Matilda wins hands down when it comes to Western dishes, their Chinese ones could improve)
Grilled Mixed Vegetables Salad with Feta Cheese and Balsamic Dressing
Pan-Fried Salmon with Balsamic Glaze, Pine Nuts and Baked Potato
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Tomato Basil Soup
Papaya with Black Dates and Peanut Soup (I was feeling very "health-conscious" after delivery)
Wheat Pita with Grilled Vegetables and Avocado Dip
Wheat Linguine with Mixed Mushrooms and Parmesan

Not bad, wouldn't you say? :)

Baked Pistachio-crusted Sea Bass with Mashed Potato

Caesar Salad

Baked Spaghetti Bolognese