Imagine yourself in a diner at lunch hour, or tea time if you will. Now imagine that this diner is Chinese style, packed to the brim with young teenagers gorging on plates of rice dishes the size of your head; families of young and old ordering baked spaghetti dishes hot out of the oven; and young waiters and waitresses bustling around with ice cold glasses of Ovaltine and hot mugs of milk tea, delivering dishes with every ding of the little bell. It’s dizzying, it’s exciting, and damn is it ever good. That is what the Hong Kong style café experience is like. It’s hip, it’s trendy, and yet it’s a fusion of young and old, traditional and modern, much the same way Hong Kong itself is. I’ll be blunt: it grates my nerves when Chinese food is viewed as a monolithic entity, comprised of fried rice and egg rolls and little else. There is SO much to explore and each and every cuisine is regional: Shanghai, Chiu Chow, Hakka, Cantonese, HK style, the list goes on. It is amazing when you eat your way through it all and you notice the nuances that separate each one from the others.
The Phoenix restaurnt and I go waaaay back. Before it was the Phoenix, it was a small, quiet Chinese restaurant with a little bit of HK style mixed in, located across the street from my high school in Markham. I have fond memories of going there for lunch with an old high school friend and several years later, the Phoenix was born and has now evolved into the powerhouse that it is today, serving HK style breakfast, sandwiches, and salads, baked rice and spaghetti dishes, pork chop cutlets, instant noodles, ice cream floats, udon and vermicelli, and enough yummy drinks to rival a bar. The food is fantastic and it is such good bang for your buck as you could easily get an entire meal (main dish + drink) for under $10, as many main dish menu items come with a coffee or tea, or a cold drink with just a $0.75 upgrade.
Up top: crispy pork chop cutlet with sunny side egg, atop tomato sauce and egg fried rice. Down below: instant noodles smothered in corn sauce with king prawns, and King’s salad with crab, shrimp, lettuce, seaweed, tobiko, sesame seeds, and parsley (and yes, that’s mum in the very top photo of this post in the scrapbook page!). These types of dishes are classic fare, where rice dishes have numerous options for sauce and meat, as well as spaghetti, curry dishes, noodles, sandwiches, and many others. I loooove my spaghetti and rice dishes with the white cream sauce and you will normally see me chugging down either a cold glass of Ovaltine, honey lemon drink, or a mango icecream float. If you want in on this delishness though, you’ll have to swing by my neck of the woods as Phoenix’s 3 locations are in Markham and Thornhill (among many other HK style restaurants that I’ll be writing about!):
- 1 Raymerville Drive, Markham. Intersection of McCowan and Raymerville Drive south, located north of Hwy.7 and Bullock Drive, south of 16th Ave.
- 7155 Woodbine Ave., Markham. Intersection of Steeles and Woodbine, just north of Steeles. Off the 404 Steeles highway exit.
- 8190 Bayview Ave., Thornhill. North of John St, south of Langstaff.