In a city with literally hundreds of different restaurants, it can be difficult to get noticed. The situation becomes even more challenging when you’re approaching the same cuisine as dozens of other restaurants within walking distance of yours. What can you do? Apparently, you add a healthy dose of that Hollywood flair.
At least that’s part of the strategy being utilized by Super Stars Cafe (110-8080 Leslie Road), a Hong Kong style cafe that was actually once known as Hollywood Cafe. It’s located off the main drag of Alexandra Road, offering an almost ironically quiet respite away from the decidedly busy Number 3 Road.
Stepping into Super Stars Cafe (the primary entrance is through the parking lot and not really from the street side), you’ll immediately recognize that this is no ordinary Hong Kong style eatery. It’s… different. You might even say it’s a little weird.
Adorning many of the walls are images of icons from the entertainment industry. There’s a portrait of Marilyn Monroe below a sign that indicates the availability of Wi-Fi. There’s a definite sense of nostalgia here, hearkening back to the days of Elvis Presley, James Dean and Marlon Brando.
This Hollywood inspiration carries through with the design of the menu too. Black and white pictures of stars like Sylvester Stallone and Audrey Hepburn juxtapose the full color photographs of your mixed grill and green salad. It’s an odd choice that doesn’t really make a lot of logical sense.
As kitschy as it might seem, perhaps we should be glad we don’t find Jurassic Pork Chops, Lamb Shank Redemption and Seafood Griddle on the Roof on there. Realistically, the menu here doesn’t stray far from what you might find at another cha chaan teng.
When you put together your own mixed grill combination, which we’ll explore further in a moment, you get to choose between the Russian Borscht and the Cream of Mushroom soup, both of which are accompanied by a slice of garlic bread. The soup itself isn’t exactly notable, but I certainly would have liked if the garlic bread was toasted more.
One thing that I did notice about Super Stars Cafe is that practically everything on the menu, aside from the smaller snack items, comes with a complimentary hot beverage. This isn’t always the case at a Hong Kong style cafe, as the “regular menu” might not come with a drink; only the “special” menu.
And so, to accompany our two meals, we got the Iced Lemon Tea ($1 extra) and a hot milk tea. I don’t normally add sugar to either, but that’s entirely up to you.
If you’re seeking a hot bowl of comfort, particularly on a colder evening, the Xin Zhu Style Special Noodle with Fish in Soup ($9.50) is an excellent choice. The lai fun rice noodles are served with sizable chunks of fish and some mushrooms, along with a good amount of cilantro on top.
While you are able to custom create your own soup noodle combination at other places like Deer Garden Signatures, Super Stars also offers a few preset options. If the fish soup isn’t your style, you might opt for a spicy beef rice noodle soup or a seafood vermicelli in a tom yum goong soup, for example.
It was almost startling just how quickly the food arrived at our table. Granted, we came on an especially quiet night, but the speed of service was truly surprising. That’s great if you’re in a hurry, but it also likely means that menu items may not exactly be cooked to order.
Super Stars refers to its mixed grill as Your Personalized Combination (normally $12.99), which lets you pick two main meat items to go with your choice of sauce. This is then accompanied with spaghetti, rice or fries, plus a drink and soup. This is very similar to our experience at Alleluia Cafe and Silver Tower Cafe Restaurant. To help balance things out, you also get a large spoonful of frozen vegetable mix.
For our combination, we upgraded to the Rack of Lamb ($17.99) and Alberta Tenderloin Cubes, served with garlic sauce. The gravy was lighter in color than I had anticipated, but came with a very strong garlic flavour, which I appreciated. Other sauces include tomato, cream of mushroom or black pepper.
The two pieces of lamb were substantial and cooked to an excellent medium rare, which is unusual for Chinese-run restaurants that tend to err on the side of doneness. I was less impressed with the Alberta tenderloin, as the cubes were barely nickel-sized and weren’t as tender as I had hoped. Opting for the ribeye for your beef craving is probably a better choice.
Truly, the decor at Super Stars is a real head scratcher. It makes for a decidedly kitschy atmosphere in a restaurant that otherwise wouldn’t be especially notable for much of anything. The food is fine, if not particularly noteworthy, and service is prompt but curt.
But hey, you get to eat with the Terminator staring at you from across the room, so that’s something. Hasta la vista, baby?
I’m not entirely sure why they decided to change the name from Hollywood Cafe, but the legacy of that name lingers on. You’ll find the “Hollywood” name on the windows and on some signage. One big advantage is that you’ll find plenty of parking at Super Stars, which could make it a viable alternative to the challenge of dining on Food Street (Alexandra Road) a couple blocks away.
The total bill for two, including tax and tip, came to $34. Super Stars Cafe is a cash only establishment.