Algernon, where are my cucumber sandwiches?

You would be hard-pressed to find a guidebook on Hong Kong that doesn’t mention afternoon tea at The Peninsula as a “must-do.” As such, I felt obligated to go at least once during my year here, even though 1) I am not a tourist and 2) the institution is an overindulgent glorification of the region’s colonial past.  It also just seemed like a fun, moderately-priced midday outing that would let me feign classiness for a day.  Classy I am not.

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Tea time buffet: Cafe Andante

There’s nothing quite like taking something quaint like tea time and defiling it with the whole buffet concept.  If all goes as planned, this is the first in a series of tea buffets that I will patronize over the next few months.  An article in one of the local newspapers put me on the scent of this trail, and I need no convincing of the absolute necessity of gratuitous overindulgences such as afternoon buffets.  If you do, this blurb from the article will surely win you over: “Ah, afternoon tea, that elusive fourth meal of the day that no one really needs, but that everyone relishes once in a while. And heck, if you’re going to stuff your face full of goodies, why not plump for a buffet and get your money’s worth?”  While the English leaves much to be desired, the point is as clear as the perfect summer day: afternoon tea buffets exist for a reason and that reason is so people like you and I can fattify ourselves on dainty scones, crustless sandwiches, and the like.

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A burger craving meets a happy end

I’ve painfully nursed a burger craving for the past two weeks.  Funny, considering that I rarely used to eat burgers in America.  I’ve also experienced a multitude of other cravings for foods that I don’t normally eat but are readily available, though I realize such things come with the territory of being culturally dislocated.  However, there comes a point when enough is enough, so a few days ago I took the opportunity to righten my gastronomic ship.  A and I headed over to simplylife for a ‘tea time’ burger.  Tea time in HK is a vestige of British rule and a particularly desirable time to eat because restaurants often have tea time specials (from 2-5pm).  After being notified that simplylife had 1) a tea time menu 2) containing burgers, I could feel my body readying itself for a burgergasm.

Tea time menu!

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My apple tea was meh, but complimentary.

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A, also in a burger mood, ordered the beef burger with guacamole and sour cream, which came with mushroom soup. The soup was tasty and refreshing — certainly not heavy, as cream-based soups can sometimes be.

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I got a beef burger with…an egg!

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The egg is peeking out all dainty like a skirt. Food can be so comical. The all-important innards shot:

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I thought this burger wasn’t bad, and it definitely satisfied my craving. The brioche bun was solid (the bread at simplylife is simply superb), and the meat juicy and well-seasoned. At 4 oz, the girth of the tea time burger was one of the things I liked most about it — not overwhelming but still sizeable, such that one still needed two hands to eat it. I would have preferred the egg over-easy or even sunny-side up…an egg yolk dripping down my burger would have made my day, for sure. The ‘spicy’ fries were too salty and not fresh. Also, I really missed the crunch of lettuce and red onion that I can usually depend on from a traditional American-style burger. Overall, however, I left sated, and with my mission accomplished. The craving has gone underground again, though I’m sure it will resurface in good time.

Other random foodstuff I crave at the moment/really miss from home: New York-style pizza, pancakes, steamed fish, falafels, bi bim bab, my dad’s Chinese soups, brownies…sigh.