A quick bio break at 4am on the road to Agra nets us a coffee and a chai masala tea. The coffee, with cream and sugar, is the sweetest and richest coffee I have ever drank. The chai masala is made without water, just milk and tea. Apparently the secret to local chai is ground ginger and grind black pepper mixed in with the tea that is steeped in milk. It’s served in a small clay cup, which is a one-time use disposable according to our guide. Though I’m not clear why chai masala would be served indisposable clay, but coffee in styrofoam.
Modern French bistro decor and soft jazz. Lots of white brick with dark wood and simple framed black and white photos. This is clearly not Chinese! We found ourselves in Nha Trang, a Vietnamese restaurant that’s becoming popular in Hong Kong. Perusing through the English menu found all our usual American Vietnamese delights like Pho and Banh Mi, plus some more Chinified dishes.
I started with my favorite Vietnamese iced coffee, but double-shot to wake me up. Also shown, a sweet drink with orange candied orange peel and candied pineapple which was too sweet and could really have benefitted from the tartness of fresh pineapple.
My wife went with a noodle soup, with a broth a little richer than typical pho. Filled with tender slices of pork, beef, fish cake, and all the usual proteins. The noodles had perfect texture and the broth savory and slightly sweet and spicy – simultaneously rich and light. I was scared by the mention of fish paste in the broth, but I found it amazing!
For myself I selected the pork chop banh mi. They warned me it would take an extra 15 minutes, which surprised me. How long does it take to assemble a sandwich? It didn’t actually take that long, probably because they grabbed pork that had already been cooked – it was clearly not “sizzling” as the menu described. Still good, with a great crispy crust baguette and crispy pork. Too much mayo though kinda killed it all leaving it a bit bland.
So how does Hong Kong Vietnamese compare to the American stuff? While I’ve had much better banh mi sandwiches stateside, I don’t think I’ve ever had pho that could top the rich stuff found here. I guess proximity does help somewhat.
Finally, a Dunkin Donuts. I’ve been itching to try them for a while now, especially since their coffee repeatedly wins tasting polls.
Pearl is a fan if their donut holes, so we picked up one of each:
Glazed – ehh, nothing special, good balance of glaze to cake though
Chocolate – rich and creamy, definitely the best of the bunch.
Powdered – not too sweet, fresh crisp taste
Cinnamon powdered – nice variant on the traditional powdered
Pumpkin – mostly cinnamon and allspice, not much pumpkin flavor
Apple raspberry jelly – nice fluffy cake and jelly has some nice tartness to it. But hard to identify apple or raspberry flavors. Tastes like jello.
Coffee is good. Default cream and sugar levels are perfect. Slight hint of chickory, and the roast flavor clearly comes through. Even without all the crazy flavor add-ins, I can see why people pick this as their favorite. Nothing exotic, just simple comforting flavor.
If I was around, I’d stop in again for the coffee.