Hong Kong cheese are the three words that come to mind when describing Ching Yip Coffee Lounge.
I mean it figuratively and literally. For where else would you find the happy collision of East meets West in this Hong Kong-style cafe that brings you the culinary delights of spaghetti bolognaise grilled with shredded cheese; spaghetti with ham in white sauce grilled with shredded cheese; and fried pork chop with spaghetti in creamed corn (all $9.00).
The Dixon House basement food court has often been a favoured cheap eat of mine, but until I received a few emails of recommendation, I'd never thought to take the escalators up to the second floor. It's like a step back in time, a flashback to 1970s Sydney with stark lighting, functional but mainly bare offices, and no end of Chinese travel agencies and massage parlours.
At the end of the corridor is the lurid but strangely alluring neon sign of Ching Yip, and despite its somewhat hidden location, this cafe is no stranger to Chinese locals, who pack the place out every lunch time.
Soup of the Day $9.80 daily set menu
The menu is a laminated A3 sheet of paper in pink. It's a huge selection that runs the gamut of snacks, sandwiches, rice dishes, pasta, fried noodles, hot pot rice, curry dishes, noodle soups and Hong Kong-style charcoal grills.
I can't help but marvel at the soups which range from Russian bortsca to Szechuan-style hot and sour soup to cream of chicken and corn soup (all $4.20).
The waitress scuttles over within minutes of us being seated and asks what we'd like to order. We politely ask for more time, for how can we choose when faced with options that include a fried egg and tomato sandwich ($3.80), condensed milk and peanut butter toast ($3.00), french toast ($4.50) or bacon and egg on toast with chips ($7.50)?
I do love a good Asian drinks menu, and in addition to the usual Horlicks ($3.20) and Ovaltine ($3.20), they have the hot tea and coffee mix ($3.50) I've yet to fully appreciate, as well as a hot lemon Coke ($3.80) which I'm told is very common and popular (Coke with fresh lemon heated til hot).
"Are you ready to order yet?" The waitress is quite persistent by now, a bit perplexed by our hesitation. Ching Yip customers tend to be regulars, and they know what they're having even before they've sat down on their chair.
Fried pork chop and rice with tomato sauce $9.80 daily set menu
The G-man and I take the easy option. The Daily Set Menu includes a house soup, rice dish and tea or coffee. The soup of the day is a clear pork broth that comes with bits of pork, pork bones and halved lengths of fresh sugar cane.
The fried pork chop and rice with tomato sauce comes in neon orange, the glossy thick sauce shimmering over the mound of white rice and deep-fried pork chop. The pork chop is tender with a delicious golden crust that's made somewhat soggy by the generous slather of sweet and sour tomato sauce. This is Hong Kong comfort food. Chewing is always an option.
Ceylon tea Hong Kong style $3.00 or included in the $9.80 daily set menu
I normally take my tea black and without sugar but the Ceylon tea Hong Kong-style is so strong, you can feel the back of your throat go dry in an instant. Tea leaves are usually boiled in water over the stove until a thick brew is reached. It's a strong hearty drink that needs a teaspoon of sugar, more likely two.
Fried beef steak with spaghetti in black pepper sauce $9.00
The fried beef steak with spaghetti in black pepper sauce is a thin and tender beef slice drenched with a surprisingly peppery gravy. There's so much pepper it borders on tongue-tingling. A tangle of spaghetti is more well-cooked than al dente.
Beef in tomato sauce with rice $8.00
Beef in tomato sauce with rice is another tribute to the joys of sloppy comfort food. Again the beef slices are tender, joined by a medley of carrots, peas and tomato and coated in a thick glistening sweet tomato sauce.
Afternoon tea (3pm-5pm) offers some great food and drink deals that range from $5 to $7 and if you've ever wondered if you can still get banana splits ($5.00) or banana fritters with ice cream ($6.50), I suggest you take a little ride up an escalator or two as well.
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Ching Yip Coffee Lounge
Level 2, 413-415 Sussex Street, Sydney
(take escalators from Dixon Street, or lift from Sussex Street)
Tel: +61 (02) 9281 1591
Open 7 days 9.00am - 8.30pm
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3/24/2009 01:48:00 am