I recently was asked if I'd ever been to A Cafe. I simply answered with a "no". I explained that I'd really never been a big fan of HK Style Cafe's, even when we lived in the San Gabriel Valley. To me, a non-boba/milk tea lover, who never enjoyed riffs on spaghetti and other items, eating in an Hong Kong style cafe meant a couple of items depending on the joint, congee here, fried pork chop there, RH Garden Cafe was just a block or so from where we used to live in Rowland Heights and it just never appealed to me. Though I gotta say, we did spend many an evening eating at Supreme Dragon, so go figure.
I wasn't too thrilled to hear that the folks from Imperial Mandarin had taken over the place. If you've ever noticed, I've never done a post on IM, though I've eaten there.....put in the broadest terms. The last three times I've to eat at IM, well, lets just say I suffered from "unlucky returns".
Still, different location, different luck, right?
The place does have that "diner" feel and typical of HK style cafe's, the food is reasonably priced.
I did see something on the menu that interested me, so I placed my order.
Next up came a watery insipid soup that, after the first taste, I just couldn't consume. This, along with the gratis soup that comes with lunch at Dede's falls under the category of "why bother".
The item I went with was the Stir Fried Beef Tongue with Green Onion ($5.99):
This was pretty good. The beef tongue was perhaps a bit too tough, but wasn't too waxy. The flavor was slightly smoky, teetering on the line of liver. But as a whole, it wasn't too awfully offally, if you know what I mean. The onions were stir fried decently and retained some crunch. It wasn't seasoned too heavily either. The rice was a bit on the dry side, but not inedible.
To put things into perspective, this was cheaper than a sandwich.
So I returned a couple of weeks later. Famished, I decided to start with the deep fried mushrooms.
Like they say, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. This was the latter. In all fairness, the mushrooms were nicely fried, the batter not too thick....though you better watch it because the liquid content of the mushrooms will squirt out and give a nice burn. That does not make up for an absolute zero in the flavor column....as in no discernable seasoning. Plus, this is served with mayo. To me, it needed something a with a bit of ooomph. Even hot sauce really didn't lift this.
I did order a standby dish,the salt and pepper pork chops ($5.99):
To me, an HK style cafe can live off its frying and seasoning skill. This dish was an "oh fer two", like the mushrooms it was very bland....where was the seasoned salt? Where was the pepper. The topping of green onions and peppers was raw. The batter was on the gummy side and not my cup of tea. To add insult to injury, the rice was really dry........ 'nuff said.
So does an decent dish get erased by a (two) terrible one(s)? The prices here, at least the lunch specials, are reasonable and the folks I had serving me were nice, though I was the only customer in the place on both occasions. I think I'll just keep on with saying HK style cafe's really aren't my thing and this place would be on the bottom of my list of those places.
4646 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111