63 Temple Street
Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon
+852 2384 6402
One can’t go very far in Hong Kong without coming across a cha chaan teng (or tea house). These eateries are famous for their inexpensive Asian-clash-Western dishes that would raise a few epicureans’ (not to mention dieticians’) eyebrows – think cheesy rice with fried chicken or condensed milk on buttered toast. And lots of cheap milk tea.
And while I’m blessed to live 10 minutes from Box Hill, home to many of Melbourne’s cha chaan teng restaurants, one of the reasons why I came to Hong Kong was to experience an authentic cha chaan teng experience. And you can’t get more legit than Mido Café, a cha chaan teng that’s been around since the 1950s.
Forgoing an all day shopping expedition at Harbour City, my brother Ken and I decided to hit the Hong Kong History Museum before heading to Mongkok to find some Russian army surplus gear (don’t ask). And although we left the Sino Centre and markets empty-handed, we did work up an appetite so we decided to walk over to Mido Café on infamous Temple Street.
I’ve heard that this place is popular with Hong Kong directors and actors, and I can certainly see why. Mido has that lovely 1960s retro touch and for a second, I could almost pretend I was an actress in a Wong Kar Wai movie. I guess this is where people like Edison Chen go when they want to relive their glory acting days, hah.
I was in the mood for some milk tea so we ordered two of those. They were starchy, though they did not come with pre-stirred sugar. I normally tend to have my caffeinated drinks without sugar but Hong Kong milk tea is one of those drinks where you absolutely need to enjoy with sugar.
Mido’s signature dish is the baked rice with spare ribs but Ken and I are very much noodles>rice people so we both went for fried noodle dishes. He went for the mixed vegie noodles while I went for the one topped with roast pork.
I didn’t get to try Ken’s noodles but I would imagine that they wouldn’t be far too different from mine. My noodles were wonderfully crispy and the pork was amazingly tender. A lovely gravy-like sauce held everything together, along with bits of kai lan. It was delicious to the last bite and let’s be honest here, I can’t imagine the baked rice tasting any better than this beautiful plate of noodles…
As far as Hong Kong portion sizes go, the noodles were pretty generous – but that didn’t stop us from ordering snacks on the side. Ken ordered the cheese and tomato sandwich which, in hindsight, was a big mistake.
For AUD$2.57, one shouldn’t expect rustic sourdough bread with heirloom tomato and organic Milawa cheese slices. We were okay with the slightly toasted white bread but the cheese was horrible – like worse than Maccas cheese horrible – and that pretty much ruined the sandwich. Folks, you’re better off sticking to the condensed milk toasts (or anything sweet) if you’re going to do bread at Mido Café.
My pineapple bun was much better. The bun itself was fluffy and buttery – and there were lashes of fresh butter in the middle if you thought you weren’t getting enough butter. Ooh yeah. I would have preferred more pineapple though.
If you had to go to only one cha chaan teng in Hong Kong, I’d recommend Mido Café. While the food isn’t any different (or better) from what you get at the newer CCT restaurant such as Tsui Wah, you’re here for the retro atmosphere that you can’t really get elsewhere in a continually modernising Hong Kong.