If you yearn for your comfort food, what type of restaurant do you normally head to?
For us it has to be Hong Kong Style Cafes. With large menus, free beverage and cheap prices, these restaurants do not require much planning.
I know that each time I suggest going to a Hong Kong Style Cafe, both Arkensen and Nanzaro would agree instantly. I know what goes on in their mind. To them, Hong Kong Style Cafes means that they have Salted Fish and Chicken Fried Rice. They can eat this fried rice everyday but Suanne just refuses to stir fry salted fish at home.
A couple of weeks ago, Marvin facebooked me out of the blue. I used to work with him when I was in Best Buy. Although I thought we had already went on our own way when we both left Best Buy, it was a pleasant surprise to learn from him that he had been reading chowtimes faithfully and silently the past few years. Chowtimes get 5000-6000 pageviews everyday and we often wonder who all our readers are. For every reader who comments or emails us, there are at least dozens who are just contended lurking on the site. Seriously, Suanne and I love to interact with and learn from our readers as we got a lot of great tips.
One of the things Marvin wrote about is comfort food and that his favourite is Ming Tak which is located on Granville and 67th in Vancouver. I must have driven past this restaurant hundreds of times already and yet I am not aware of this place.
Ming Tak is a small family run Hong Kong Style Cafe. It is just OK kind of clean but does look very cluttered. The picture above says it all. Obviously neatness and organizing is not one of Ming Tak’s strength and that is not good.
But besides that, service was genuine, polite, patient and soft-spoken.
Like the rest of the restaurant, the menu was rather disorganized too. While we had the normal printed menu, we quickly put it down and tried to figure out the ones that had been haphazardly pasted on the wall. Some of them are computer printed with lamination while some are just hand written on a piece of coloured paper. The unfortunate thing is that they are all in Chinese although some with pictures do help.
As in all HK Style Cafes, most of the dishes came with a beverage. However, Ming Tak beats all others in size by far. Needless to say, our boys were very happy to see drinks this size. They tasted good too. We had thought that they might water the Iced Milk Tea down but nope, they are good.
Just as Marvin told us, his favourite dish here is the hot pot, particularly the Sea Cucumber and Chicken with Vermicelli Hot Pot. A lot of their customers were eating hot pot too as we noticed. So I ordered that — it is $10.
The hot pot is a large serving and could easily be shared between two people.
It is a Chinese herbal soup with … ginger, wolfberry, tong gui and cooked with rice wine which gives that distinctive wine smell and flavour. The chicken too was tender (i.e. not overcooked as it is so easy to do that with hotpot). Overall, it is fantastic and we can see now why the front windows of the restaurant is all misted over.
The sea cucumber though was small and few. We sort of understand because sea cucumbers are not cheap ingredients.
Since I had ordered the chicken with vermicelli hot pot, Suanne asked the lady owner for another of their more popular dishes. Pointing to one of the bigger posters on the wall, she recommended the Lamb Hot Pot which is quite pricey at $15.
Besides the lamb, the ingredients includes bean curd, ginger, sui choy and bay leaves.
This is interesting. Normally one would see lean lamb. However, in Ming Tak the chunky lamb pieces had skin on … succulent fatty kin. We like it a lot.
The thickish broth looks like its cooked with fermented soy bean. It has a strong pungent taste and I do understand it is not for everyone. We like the creaminess of the soup.
Despite the $15 price tag for the Lamb Hotpot, it does not come with rice. I don’t understand that because the soup in the Lamb Hotpot is so thick one could not drink it without having it with rice. So we ordered an extra bowl of rice.
Nanzaro’s choice is what else … SF&CFR. The boys had ordered this so many times that I think I can start using the SF&CFR acronym and most of you will understand. This is expensive and costs $10. Although it is very rich with salted fish flavour throughout, I do think it is too expensive.
As for Arkensen, he had taken to the liking of baked rice recently. His order was the Baked Pork Chop with Cheese on Rice. This is more reasonable at $7. It tasted very tomatoey. Personally, I don’t like baked rice dishes at all but it’s up to the boy, right? As long as he enjoys it is what matters.
The entire meal is $43 before tips. We like Ming Tak and will definitely return for their chicken and vermicelli hot pot.
Thanks Marvin for this recommendation.
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I love this place!! It is probably my favorite HK style cafe!! I always order either the Clams w/ Pork and Rice in Soup OR the Chicken w/ Vermicelli in Soup. Both are very yummy and perfect on a cold winter day =D
Just wanted to leave a quick comment. I liked how you said dozens of people are just content with reading this. Well, I’m one of those. hahaha. =)
I’ve been following this blog since the summer. It’s awesome when I don’t feel like studying…like right now. =) But yea, your blog makes me hungry. Too bad I don’t live in Canada during the school year… =(
I’m also one of those lurking readers! And avoiding studying for finals, haha.
But I love the clam hot pot rice here too. It’s so good!
Another luker here! SAHM, who seek solace and reality in cyber world, always hopping from baby food to adult food webistes. I live far, far away from Canada, and have never visited the place. Nearest I have been is LA! Anyway, keep up the good work and eat more! This is how we get to read more!
Ben, nice post. Speaking of the cleanness, it is discouraging that some Chinese restaurants are just not clean. Particularly the bathrooms. Should we expect a clean kitchen if the dinning area and bathrooms are not clean? To what extent can you comprise the cleanness for food? We live in Chicago. We will definitely ask for your recommendation for good and clean Chinese restaurants next time when we visit Vancouver!
I think the “soup” in the Lamb Hot Pot is actually the sauce. That’s why it’s a bit thick/creamy. I think a better translation of the dish is “Lamb belly server in Hot Clay Pot”. (yeung lam bo) And that’s why it’s served with lamb piece with the skin-on. It usually goes very nice with rice and some people add additional chinese lettuce to the pot (esp if it’s served simmering on a stove)
Wow, what a place! Great to see these traditional style HK Cafes. Many have modernized and made pretty but it is always great to see one that is original.
As for the lamb hot pot it is true that it was cooked with the fermented bean curd. Usually do see it with a plate of rice though, just like you said that the sauce can be quite bold by itself.
Your stats are so high :). I get that many page views in a month. It is quite unusual to see how many people there are on the web that look at a website for a long time and never interact with the website, and when you notice first it can be quite surprising!
Ming Tak used to be on Marine Drive & Fraser next to the Wonton King. Good times. Cheap eats.
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Ordered from Order it. Bubble tea was warm and awful tasting. Honey garlic pork was soggy and didn’t taste right. Wonton soup had no flavor. Called to complain about the food and recieved the worst customer service. I would never order from this resturant again.