Eating with Batman and Mao Mao

I woke up first, followed by Mao Mao and Batman. When Redhead came out of her room with sleep still written obviously on her face, the three of us were sitting quietly in a row on the sofa. We were staring at intently at the little screens on our own phones. Seeing Redhead, Mao Mao read aloud the top headline of the day. “Swedish men told to beware testicle-munching fish,” Mao Mao said.

Redhead stared at Mao Mao for a few seconds before she found her voice. “Why are you reading such news in the morning?”

Mao Mao tried to look innocent. “It’s one of the headlines,” she explained indignantly. Then she showed me the news article as proof. None of us really believed her but we unanimously decided to let it go.

Redhead showered first as she had to go to work. When she was done, the rest of us got up reluctantly from the sofa and took turns to use the bathroom. Then we left to look for breakfast while Redhead went to work.

Before we parted ways, Mao Mao thrust the Mrs Fields paper bag into Redhead’s hands. It contained a few leftover Mrs Fields cookies from last night. “Here, you can eat it for breakfast,” Mao Mao said. When Redhead protested that the cookies were too sweet for her liking, Mao Mao tried a different tactic. “You can give it to your colleagues,” she said. Redhead rolled her eyes but she took the paper bag with her. The rest of us went to 生記粥品專家 (Sang Kee Congee Shop) for breakfast.

It was a hot day and I wasn’t looking forward to eating hot congee. But Batman and Mao Mao had not tried this shop before so they were keen despite the heat. Batman ate the mixed pig innards congee and Mao Mao tried the beef and fish ball congee. Mao Mao liked the beef but she did not like the fish ball because it was too soft and floury for her liking.

I had the pork liver congee which was good. It came with a saucer of soy sauce and ginger strips which helped to cut the strong, mushy flavor that liver has. I managed to finish all the liver but I could only eat half of the congee. I was starting to perspire by the end of the meal.

After breakfast, I brought them to The Cupping Room for them to try the coffee. Batman takes his coffee seriously and I wondered whether this place would match up to his standards. The Cupping Room was pretty empty at this time and there were only a couple of other customers in the cafe.

Batman and Mao Mao decided to order the same tasting set that Redhead and I tried yesterday. From where we were sitting, we had a good view of the barista preparing the coffee. He was very meticulous and placed all three bottles on weighing scales so that he would pour the right amount of coffee grounds and water. As he poured the water, he made swirling motions with the kettle sprout. Periodically, he would stop to check the weighing scale and stir the grounds with a flat metal stick.

Batman demonstrated the correct way of drinking coffee, which was to slurp it noisily. I felt like it looked like how the experts tasted wine. Like Redhead, Batman preferred the Guatemala beans while Mao Mao preferred the El Salvador beans.

Then the barista came over to ask how was the coffee. He also tried to give more detailed introductions to the different beans. After he realized that we were not Hong Kong citizens, he tried to converse with us in Mandarin. His mandarin was not good but we managed to understand enough to have some clue to the general meaning. Most of the time, I just smiled and nodded, looking as if I understood perfectly. I didn’t, but between the three of us, we managed to piece the story together.

Batman also asked the barista about the long black which was slightly more expensive than the espresso. The barista explained that the higher price was because they had to modify the amount of beans and water according to the quality of the ingredients and the weather so it took more effort to make.

After we finished the tasting set, Batman decided to order a long black and a cafe latte, much to the horror of Mao Mao and I. I think that he must have liked the quality of the coffee here to order so many cups of it.

Mao Mao thought the cafe latte was nice and said that it tasted like hot chocolate. I was intrigued because I had never tried a coffee that tasted like a hot chocolate before. At first I thought there was something wrong with Mao Mao’s taste buds, but after I took a sip, I understood what she meant. It was creamy and dense, like hot chocolate. While no one would really mistake this for hot chocolate, there was a roasted, chocolatey taste that lingered with each sip.

After we left The Cupping Room, we noticed that displayed proudly in the cafe’s window were some competition prizes. We took a closer look and saw that three baristas from The Cupping Room won that first, second and third prize for a competition in 2012. Impressive.

We traveled to Times Square next and accompanied Mao Mao as she visited the shops. Batman and I were always glad when she visited a shoe shop because it meant that we could sit down. Mao Mao showed me the latest trend which was shoes and bags made of a translucent rubber material. They were usually brightly colored and looked like candy. Unfortunately Mao Mao could not find any candy shoe to her liking. Either the cutting was not right or the color did not appeal to her. Still, I would say that it was a fruitful shopping trip because by time we left Times Square 4 hours later, Mao Mao had made three big purchases.

We went for a late lunch at 九記牛腩 (Kau Kee Restaurant), a very famous beef brisket noodle restaurant. It was so famous that even though we reached there at 3pm, way past lunch hour, it was still fully packed. We decided to wait since we came all the way to eat the beef noodles. Not to mention that I already exerted a lot of effort to climb a very, very steep flight of stairs to reach this fabled place, so I’m not about to leave with an empty stomach.

The late afternoon sun was still scorching hot and even though I was standing in the shade, I kept sweating. While we waited for a table, we saw several taxis depositing passengers in front of the restaurant, some of whom still had their luggage with them.

Finally we were given a seat at a long narrow table towards the back of the restaurant. It was located right in front of the kitchen and was a bit cramped. We quickly made our orders. Basically there were two types of beef noodles which everyone orders; soup or curry. By default, we were given e-fu noodles although one could also choose between beehoon or thick noodles which was like the mee pok.

I had the curry version as I preferred my noodles to be dry rather than soupy. The bowl was filled to the brim to with beef brisket and tendons. The meat was tender and flavorful and the spongy e-fu noodles soaked up the curry sauce. The curry was not spicy but it was very peppery. It tasted so good that I could not stop eating. It was with great reluctance that I passed the half of the bowl over so that Batman and Mao Mao could try it as well.

Mao Mao preferred the soup noodles which had a clear beefy broth. The soup was light and tasty, full of beefy goodness. It was nice but Batman and I preferred the curry noodles.

New customers were still arriving at Kau Kee so we did not linger in the restaurant after we finished our food. Instead we quickly paid and left to eat some roast goose.

We went to 一樂燒鵝 (Yat Lok Restaurant) and ordered some roast goose and char siew to share. The roast goose was delicious; the skin was crispy and the meat juicy and smooth. For a moment, my loyalties wavered between the braised goose at 尚興潮州飯店 (Shung Hing Chiu Chow Restaurant) and the piece of roast goose that I had just put into my mouth. Finally I decided that I still liked the roast goose better. Thus my inner turmoil disappeared and I am at peace once again.

The char siew was nice but a little dry. Batman felt that the taste and texture was good but it was too lean and would be better with a bit of fat.

We parted ways after this meal. Batman and Mao Mao wanted to continue shopping but I was feeling quite tired so I went home to take a nap.

Dinner was at 新大壽日本料理店 (New Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant). All of us had been to this restaurant previously and knew the food to be good. This time, instead of ordering a mixed sashimi set, we decided to order ala carte instead. We had salmon, fatty tuna, yellow tail and swordfish. The sashimi was pretty good although Mao Mao felt that the quality had decreased slightly.

Besides the sashimi, we had other cooked dishes but no rice. We shared a stick of grilled chicken soft bone. There was still meat stuck to the soft bone. Both Redhead and I commented that we did not eat the soft bone until Mao Mao introduced us to it, who in turn learnt it from her husband. So in a way, all of us learnt how to eat the soft bone from Batman. He was also amazed that his chicken-soft-bone-eating influence was so widespread.

We also ordered the beef tongue. “Eek, tongue! You all can eat it,” Redhead said hastily. The tongue was well-marinated and tasty.

The grilled shiitake mushrooms gave off a lovely woody fragrance. The paper-thin bonito flakes sprinkled on top of the mushrooms danced as if they were alive.

Someone ordered stuffed chicken wings. The wings were brushed with a sweetish, savory sauce.

I bit into one and was amazed to find that the restaurant had removed all the bones and stuffed the empty space with spicy fish roe instead. It was yummy and I would definitely order this again on my next visit.

The chicken yakitori was not bad although not outstanding. The meat was tender and juicy.

We also had grilled cod fish which was so full of flavor that it did not need the mayonnaise that accompanied it.  The skin was crispy while the meat was moist and oily, but in a good way. We liked it so much that we ordered a second helping.

There was something like a minced chicken skewer. Like the rest of the yakitori, it was grilled well, with the meat remaining tender.

We were all quite full after dinner but Batman was thinking about dessert. So we followed him to 澳洲牛奶公司 (Australia Dairy Company) where he ordered his beloved steamed milk. I had a taste and it was sweet, light and milky.

We also shared the scrambled eggs on toast which Mao Mao urged us to eat as it was good. She divided into 4 portions so that each of us would get an equal amount. The egg was fluffy and buttery. The toast below soaked up all the melted butter. If I was here on an empty stomach, I could probably eat two slices of it.

I also had a iced milk tea to cool myself down. I really shouldn’t be drinking caffeine drinks at this late hour but Batman said the milk tea was good. And it was.

After we returned home, Redhead dropped her keys on the side table near the door. The vibrations caused a cockroach to scuttle across the surface. All the ladies immediately retreated to the safety of the living room, leaving Batman to deal with the six-legged intruder. 3 pairs of eyes from the living room kept watch of the cockroach’s escape route.

Redhead found a bottle of insecticide and gave it to Batman who tried his best to spray the running cockroach. Instead of a fine mist, drops of water came out of the nozzle, like a water pistol. However, it seemed to be enough as the cockroach soon flipped on its back. Redhead threw a roll of toilet paper to Batman so that he could pick up the dying cockroach and put it into a plastic bag. Then the hero of the night had to go all the way down and threw the cockroach far away into a public dustbin on the street.

After he returned, Batman confessed that he was afraid of cockroaches as well but he had little choice as someone had to do it. Thankfully we saw no more for the rest of the night. Mao Mao gleefully suggested that I should cover my mouth before I sleep in case a cockroach ran into it. Then she laughed in her witch-like high pitched laughter.

Places we ate today

生記粥品專家 (Sang Kee Congee Shop)
Address: G/F, 7-9 Burd Street, Sheung Wan
Tel: +852-25411099
Opening hours: 6:30am – 9pm (Mon – Sat); 6:30am – 6pm (Public Holiday)
Nearest MTR Station: Sheung Wan

The Cupping Room
Address: Shop LG, 287-299 Queen’s Road Central (Entrance on Clevery Street), Sheung Wan
Tel: +852-93161980
Opening hours: 8am – 5pm (Mon, Wed – Fri); 8am – 6pm (Sat); 10am – 6pm (Sun)
Nearest MTR station: Sheung Wan

九記牛腩 (Kau Kee Restaurant)
Address: G/F, 21 Gough Street, Central
Tel: +852-28505967
Opening hours: 12:30pm – 10:30pm (Mon – Sat)
Nearest MTR station: Sheung Wan

一樂燒鵝 (Yat Lok Restaurant)
Address: G/F, 34-38 Stanley Street, Central
Tel: +852-25243882
Opening hours: 7:30am – 9pm (Mon – Fri); 9am – 5:30pm (Sat, Sun)
Nearest MTR station: Central

新大壽日本料理店 (New Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant)
Address: 1/F, Good Results Building, 176 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852-23682711
Nearest MTR station: Jordan

澳洲牛奶公司 (Australia Dairy Company)
Address: G/F, 47-49 Parkes Street, Jordan
Tel: +852-27301356
Opening hours: 7:30am – 11pm (Mon – Wed, Fri – Sun)
Nearest MTR station: Jordan

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