It just has to be my luck that for the second review in the row, it was raining cats, dogs and the occasional elephant. This was not an exaggeration; we experience two blackouts, water overflowing into the restaurant, and Thor-styled lightning. Which does, at least, excuse my lack of pictures in this post.
The place we went to was The Home Cooking Dishes (Yes, that’s the actual name), a small roadside Chinese restaurant where the floor is one meter below road level and the kitchen is in full view approximately two tables away.
Considering the venue you might expect this place to be cheaper than usual, but the family running THCD are no slouches in business. People are willing to pay in this restaurant, so the end pricing is somewhere close to a regular ‘chao choy’* restaurant. Speaking of willingness to pay, some were willing to brave the
angintaufan thunderstorm just to eat at this place. There’s your inelastic demand curve.**
My digressions aside, I’ll reveal beforehand that we had two outstanding dishes, and two rather mediocre ones. Keeping with the tradition of ‘bad news first’, we will begin with the not-so-good ones. Hey, if it gets you to read the whole post, why not?
Behold…four…four something (direct translation going on here) tofu. Despite its name, this dish was special for the sole reason it left no impression on me whatsoever. Okay I know tofu is supposed to not taste much, but even after all the toppings, I still ended up with the taste of plain tofu. Which was very meh.
Our second mediocre dish: long beans stir-fried with roast pork. I mean, they stir fried it okay and all, and the pork has a decent taste, but its not something a housewife couldn’t whip up at home herself. Tldr: tastes ok, not restaurant quality.
Enough bad news (for now), let’s take a look at their signature dish, which sure as hell better be good. Char siew, a Chinese favourite at just about every roast and wantan mee store in the country. I’ve tasted some really good ones before; fortunately, this one manages to pass the test.
What sets this apart from other char siew is the glazing – caramelized up to the point its slightly hard, allowing for a truly decadent munching experience. Close your eyes, and you feel as though you’re eating candy instead. It’s an addictive dish with their own twist.
I bet you weren’t thinking of seeing veggies, but truly this to me was the standout dish of the night. It looks absolutely normal, but a taste of the broth unleashes a heavenly shrimp aroma onto your unsuspecting palette.
It’s so good that I’m ignoring the fact that its way too salty without rice – usually a giant no-no for me. Yet just eating it with rice makes it one of the best stir fried vegetables I’ve ever tasted.
With such split results, this one is a difficult one to call. I’d say this place warrants a repeat visit once in a while; they do serve some truly standout dishes. Just come armed with an umbrella next time, and be prepared to pay what you expect.
*fried vegetables is the direct translation, but generally refers to a Chinese restaurant serving dishes (usually at night)
** the author does not claim that this example is correct, and hopes that his economics lecturer refrains from any sudden urges to fail the author’s exam papers.