Yesterday was peculiar. I ate one of the most unattractive meals I’ve ever seen, then discovered a luminous Buddhist shrine in the middle of a parking lot. You just never know what life’s going to toss you next.
I started my afternoon with a workout, then attempted to eat at Seaview Café for the third time (I tried again last week), only to find it closed again. Going back to that place has become a stubborn tick – I feel determined to catch it open at least once! With post-workout hunger descending quickly, I cycled over to Alexandra Road and found another HK café – Silver Tower Café Restaurant – to have my dinner at instead.
The restaurant was large, and seemingly composed of nothing but horizontals. That’s probably because the roof was so low. One blogger who posted about Silver Tower compared it directly to a cubicle-filled office, a la Office Space. They weren’t too far off, but of course, HK Cafés are rarely about glamorous décor.
Silver Tower’s menu was fairly typical, with both Western and Chinese dishes, plenty of snacks, and page after page of set combos and lunch specials. Wanting to try something new, I asked for the ‘Beef in Swirl Egg” ($7.95, drink included), thinking it would be a dish Stacey had once described to me, consisting of ‘a cracked raw egg in the center of a tomato based minced beef sauce on rice.’ Turns out, that dish is a slightly different version, generally called Minced Beef with Egg. ‘Tis swirl-less, and looks quite a bit different from the plate I received.
I’ll just get right to it – for someone who’d never seen this dish before, it was incredibly unappealing to look at. Pale, slimy, and sloppy. It consisted of thin slices of beef, with what appeared to be a raw egg sauce poured over the rice.
When it was all mixed together, the hot rice partially cooked the egg, though it stayed quite creamy. The flavour was mildly salty, I liked the chopped green onion, and the portion was generous, but I can’t say I’d order again. I will, however, give the ‘minced beef with egg’ a try when I see it.
I settled on a Chinese sweet called sachima, which I’ve had once before from New Town Bakery and quite liked. They’re dense, golden-brown squares made from flour, eggs, sugar/honey, and lard (or vegetable oil), and while they may not have been as pretty as the bakery’s other cakes, they’re a perfect mid-afternoon snack. People often compare them to Rice Krispie squares, but they’re flour-based and far less sweet. Let’s just consider them cousins.
Sachima in hand, I left Parker Place through the south exit, which leads into one of the side parking lots. Though I’ve used that door plenty of times, I must have always been concentrating too hard on my recently-purchased sweets, because I failed to notice there’s an actively-worshipped Buddhist shrine right there. That’s not something I usually associate with mall parking lots.
It’s four-sided, ornately decorated with jewel-toned mosaics, and has four altars on which people can burn incense and offer fruit and flowers.
Looking at it made me wish I’d retained more from my undergraduate lectures on Southeast-Asian iconography, but that’s ok. Shrines like this have a way of inspiring a sense of reverence in any who stand before them, regardless of symbolism.
I asked my friend Stacey about the structure, and she said she’d heard it was built by vendors of Parker Place Mall to pray for good business. Extraordinary!
My day in Richmond began with a modest swirly egg dish, and ended with gold and flowers. Well I’ll be. I am in awe of you, world.
Vegetarian options available (there’s a small vegetarian-specific section on the menu)