For years I’ve wanted to witness a Chinese New Year celebration and take home some Chinese goodies like pork bao and tikoy (or niangao). This is the first year that I am free on weekends and my cold is getting better but the weather is not cooperating.
Instead with my girlfriend Lydia and her husband, we went yesterday to visit an old favorite, Jockeys Hong Kong Restaurant. I didn’t realize that Lydia has been there before too, she said maybe 20 years ago. For my family, it used to be a favorite. My cousins have celebrated birthdays and graduations there but I haven’t been there either for more than ten years.
My Aunt Claire once said we should try the new Jockeys. They look like they have new owners as they now offer Thai and Japanese specialties alongside Chinese dishes. But Hong Kong dishes are slightly different from typical Chinese, I noticed they used less soy sauce. We used to always order their Hong Kong steak, oysters with salted bean sauce and their seafood noodles. Those are no longer in the menu.
Lydia said let’s give it a try. Like me she loved the dishes at Jockeys. She really prepared herself, looking forward to a big meal and skipped her breakfast. We were the first to arrive for lunch – so early that they haven’t even cooked tea.
To warm our stomachs we each ordered our favorite soups. I had hot and sour, Lydia the wonton soup and Lou the egg drop. My only critique on my soup was it was too thick with corn starch otherwise it was better than passable.
Because it is Chinese New Year, I let Lydia take care of ordering. After all she’s Chinese, I wanted what they would typically order on special occasions like this. We had fish fillet, silken shrimps and roasted duck. All the dishes were beautifully executed and tasted good. But Jockeys had set up such high precedence that my expectations were very high.
Lydia and Lou must have liked it because when I came home last night she left a message in Facebook asking if I liked the new restaurant and that we should give it a second chance. Aside from their fun company and interesting conversation, I was happy with our meal so I said next time we’ll order some Thai food and see how they fair – if they are authentic enough.
It was a good sign that a group of five well dressed Taiwanese dined there too. I told Lydia am sure they ordered the ones in Chinese characters without translations, not in the English menu. It is some sort of a secret code when they do that while us who don’t read Cantonese are left with chop suey and some other Americanized Chinese dishes like we are too lame for real authentic dish.
Try visiting a Chinese restaurant with someone who can read and speak the language. Years ago another girlfriend and I went to Chinatown. My gf was Taiwanese and there was one dim sum dish which I could never forget. She ordered a dainty steamed dim sum with meat filling and inside when you bite in it, there’s an explosion of this tasty liquid. I asked her what I would ask next time I order and she said it was not in the menu. I so felt left out.
I related this to Lydia but she haven’t had it either. Well Lydia is a Chinese-Filipino, born and raised in Manila. I guess something must fall off the crack. Maybe next time.
The service was slow in the beginning but after we were brought our hot tea, the food came in quick succession after that. The service was great too, am sure when someone in your company can speak the language it amounts to something. But I will definitely go back there again and maybe I could order Hong Kong steak even if it is not in the menu.