For dinner tonight, a few of us trekked out to Festival Walk, a humongous shopping plaza in Kowloon Tong. I was eager to share with them a wonderful restaurant I myself was introduced to only two days prior called simplylife, a bakery/cafe that dishes out simple, health-conscious, and affordable Western fare. Since being inundated with Chinese food since my arrival (not that I’m complaining), simplylife was a welcome change of pace for my palate. The place is small and has an adorable bistro-like ambience, and Carla Bruni (!) was playing in the background — damn, that girl can sing.
From left to right: strawberry custard tarts, blueberry danish, peach danish, apple danish, and apricot danish. I have never come across a gleaming fruit danish I didn’t like admire.
Bread! A raisin loaf and a standard baguette type, I think. Both were awesome and declared ‘real bread’ by one of our resident food connoiseurs.
In the rear, Erik’s iced apple tea. In the foreground, my iced chrysanthemum tea. One sip of Stephanie’s and I nearly shouted at the waiter to get me one as well.
I was pretty adamant that we split this enormous appetizer: lump crab meat over mesclun salad with a sesame-soy-peanut dressing. I haven’t eaten much salad since getting here, and this one is killer. The dressing was present but not overpowering and the fresh greens did everyone good.
For my main course, I chose the organic tagliatelle with beef and pork sausage. Al dente pasta + grainy, salty, and fresh sheets of parmesan is nothing spectacular, just dependably good food.
Stephanie got the organic linguine with prawns.
George went with the organic fettucine and mushrooms in a truffle sauce. He did a man shriek when he found a coin-sized truffle in his pasta.
Erik’s dish, organic brown rice with peas, spinach, and goat cheese, was delicious. GOAT CHEESE…slobber. I heart goat cheese.
Another compadre got the organic brown rice with oxtail braised in red wine, red onions, and spinach. I ordered it the last time I was here and was very happy with it. Now that I think about it, I do believe that on the whole, simplylife’s rice dishes are better than their pastas. Those glutinous carb-y pearls seem to absorb so much more flavor and I love it when they burst in your mouth.
Before coming over from the States, I generally equated mall food with poor-quality, unhealthy fast food, which generally still holds true in the U.S. But Hong Kongers (and people in other countries, no doubt) have taken the concept of ‘mall food’ and transformed it into a first-rate dining experience. People come to malls expressly to dine, and I don’t blame them when there are restaurants like simplylife available. I’ve noticed that the same phenomenon occurs with instant foods, which are insanely popular here. In the U.S., I tend to think that instant stuff is almost inherently of inferior quality and that people who prepare instant foods sacrifice taste for time (like instant coffee, for example). But I’m not sure that’s true in HK because they seem to take their instant foods very seriously. There is are entire shelves in the supermarket devoted to instant milk tea/coffee and other such food products, and everyone seems to use them religiously. I’m tempted to think that eating and drinking the instant stuff is part of what it means to eat and drink Hong Kong…though I’ll stick with my coffee press 🙂