Hong Kong food — everywhere, all the time

Minum minum Is it just me or are there Hong Kong Cafes popping up all over the place these days? Either belonging to the same chain or merely using the same name. The first one I heard about was the one along East Coast Road, which did well enough within its first year that it became a 24-hour joint and doubled in size by taking over the shop next door.

Now there’s a second Hong Kong Cafe just down the road at Siglap (also 24-hours) and I spotted another one opposite the Novena church last night. They’re everywhere!

I’ve eaten at the East Coast and Siglap cafes several times, but I still can’t figure out what makes the food distinctive from the typical Cantonese food you get in Singapore. There’s dim sum, porridge, noodle and rice dishes galore. The one at Siglap’s introduced local dishes like chicken curry too.

When the East Coast Road one first opened, I had friends who were crazy about the deep-fried peanut butter toast, which was pretty damn amazing if you wanted an oil/butter overload with a sweet aftertaste. Other than that and some of the drinks (what’s in “ying yong” coffee or tea anyway?), I can’t think of anything else on the menu that’s “uniquely” Hong Kong.

But I’ll admit this: they do have quite the spread of comfort food. I had fried noodles with a fried egg (sunny side up) and luncheon meat last week. Although that’s easy enough to make at home if I wanted to, the cafe’s version really hit the spot. My friend’s idea of comfort food was the $2 soft-boiled eggs — also a common enough staple in our kopitiams. The cafe version was double the kopitiam price, but I think most kopitiam uncles would’ve laughed in our faces if we’d asked them for soft-boiled eggs at that hour of the night!

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