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Chinese Dinner Lunch

Baked Pork Chop and Rice with Tomato Sauce — Cha Chan Tang Exclusives

October 21, 2015 by

I’ll be honest, I’ve spent most of my life growing up on “fast food.” Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a fan of the Super Size diet from McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, or any of your regular fast food joints.

No, I grew up on a different kind of quick meal diet; the kind that combines the best of Asian and Western cuisine into helping plates of food less than 10 minutes after you order and can just as quickly down. Let’s talk Hong Kong cuisine; let’s talk cha chan tangs.

Cha chan tangs are cafés that serve a variety of different food and provides for every single meal you can possibly eat. I may be guilty of sitting at cha chan tangs as a kid for hours on end, while my parents chatted with the servers and the other patrons at the cafe. Breakfast would slowly turn into brunch, and then maybe it would be time for an afternoon tea snack. Such is the way that these restaurants operate, as a place for people who may not speak to each other anywhere else to come and banter about the latest news and trends.

To avoid a long political history, all you need to know is that a lot of Hong Kong cuisine, the kind that you can order quickly at a sit-down café, has influences of Western flair. Baked casseroles, meat sauce spaghetti, and mixed grills are only some of plenty of dishes that don’t immediately shout Asian. But they are, and they come synonymously paired in the same menus as your regular chicken and broccoli, beef fried noodles, and Cantonese chow mein. Here’s where quantity and efficiency doesn’t get downplayed by quality because how can you complain about food when you’re sitting in front of a mountain of deliciousness for a pretty affordable price? Just pick and choose from hundreds on the menu. There’s bound to be something for you.

Speaking of which, I thought long and hard about the signature dish to introduce to someone who might still be confused by the authenticity that is a Hong Kong cha chan tang cuisine. I couldn’t really look any further than Baked Pork Chop and Rice with Tomato Sauce. This is by far one of the best comfort foods you can possibly order when you’re starving. It is a staple of any cha chan tangs you go to, especially those who want to serve the masses!

Baked Pork Chop and Rice with Tomato Sauce - Keung's Delight

This dish is everything and more. Here’s a photo I recently took from a meal at Keung’s Delight at the Warden & Steeles T&T plaza. Not so much your classic cha chan tang, but a great place to dine and reviewed previously on my blog. Don’t be afraid of using extra cutlery and plates because it’s almost impossible to eat this during a meal without additional utensils! Here’s a technical look at the assorted components: fried pork chops nestled on top of rice (choice of egg fried rice or the regular variety), and blanketed by a gooey tomato sauce. Baked for a few minutes (literally, a few minutes), and voila! Your famous Baked Pork Chop Rice casserole dish.

Baked Pork Chop Rice - Keung's Delight

 

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Breakfast Chinese

Macaroni & Ham in Soup — Memories of Mac ‘n’ Chinese Breakfasts

September 21, 2015 by

Ahh…comfort food. Maybe it’s the sound of bacon sizzling that wakes you up in the morning. Maybe it’s leftover pizza at midnight. Or maybe it’s just that grilled cheese sandwich you had for breakfast…and lunch…and dinner. No matter where we are or what it is to us, certain things that we eat give us that warm and fuzzy feeling, one that tells the stories of home, a good day, or a full stomach.

I’m pretty Canadian through and through. And you really can’t be without having gone through dozens of those blue boxes in your kitchen pantries while growing up. Which ones, you ask? Kraft Dinner, of course. KD for the typical Canadian child after school is the equivalent to instant noodles and ramen for those of us blessed with Asian cuisine.

But Marco Polo didn’t bring back pasta from China to Europe just for scrumptious Italian meals that have spiralled into a cheesy quick fix for hungry adolescent teens (at least, I hope he didn’t). And neither has the humble macaroni been one where Mac ‘n’ Cheese is the only sure fire way for macaroni to be eaten. I know growing up that my first taste of the rainbow-shaped pasta wasn’t for afternoon meals or even dinner. I had it for breakfast.

Whoa, hold on for a sec. Breakfast?

As a Chinese-Canadian, I can vouch that Chinese people take the “Breakfast should be the largest meal of the day” idea very seriously. Please refer to dimsum if you’re curious to know why.

My section on Markham Food will be dedicated to relaying everyday comfort food that a lot of us from the East side (of the world) grew up loving and finding, well, comfort in. Like I said, comfort food is anything that brings back good memories or lets you settle down with a warm and hearty stomach at the end of the meal. I wanted to start with something simple. Something that gave me that same fuzziness. It may have been the fried rice I was eating, but I knew what I wanted my blog posts to talk about. The classic Combo A at your local Chinese cafes (aka cha chan tangs; read my next blog post!): Macaroni and Ham in Soup.

I mean, what can be more comforting in the morning, when you’re eating breakfast at home or at a local cafe, and be served a heaping bowl of macaroni in soup. With ham. And a piece of buttered toast/egg sandwich. Downed with a cup of hot milk tea? Want to be fancier? Try asking for the ham to be shredded first. Want to be less opulent? Remove those peas, carrots, and corn that’s usually sprinkled on top for “aesthetics” purposes.

I know a lot of people can agree on this, and it may surprise them, because it’s so simple. It may not be something you may miss immediately after weeks away from home, but it’s something that we do go back to time and time again. For me, it has become a large part of my life, because it reminds me of my earliest memories growing up.

My memory of macaroni and ham goes back to preschool when my dad and I would go to a local restaurant for breakfast after dropping my mom off at work. It would be the only thing we order. I would try really hard to finish all the macaroni, but I always ate too much of the ham and ending up pushing the bowl to my dad to finish. And in he’ll come to finish the meal, breaded butter and all. Hope you liked that walk down memory lane.

Mac n’ Cheese is pretty good, sometimes. But, Macaroni and Ham ain’t bad either.

Macaroni - Chinese Breakfast

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