All I Need Is Cheese – Red Bean Ice Drinks With Whipped Cream and Cheesy Pasta Hong Style Dishes at The Phoenix


Okay, so that statement isn’t entirely true.  I need more than cheese to complete my life.  But I do love cheese a whole lot!  And what better way to spread my love for cheese than to show you all some insanely delicious cheesy pasta HK style dishes from Phoenix restaurant!  Phoenix is my favourite Chinese diner to eat at and I’m really lucky that all of their locations are in and around Markham – one of the locations is actually just a 10 minute drive/bus ride away!  I can’t believe it’s already been so long since my first post on Phoenix way back during Ate by Ate’s first week on the internet.  That was the first week of December and here I am enjoying my last month to month and a half of summer and so much has changed since I started the blog.  For one thing, I graduated from grad school with my MA and am no longer a student and for another, I’ve never felt like I’ve learned as much as I have this past year and I have so much to take away with me.  And to think it’s all because I love food as much as I do!

I have always loved pasta, cheese, and numerous kinds of seafood and it’s one of the things I enjoy the most when I eat at HK style diners.  Of course I enjoy my rice dishes, but more often than not, I gravitate toward the spaghetti, the macaroni, the rotini, and any other type of pasta that happens to be on the menu.  Aside from the drinks, it’s one of the things I look forward to the most when I know I’m coming here!  I’ll probably sound like such a simpleton when I say this, but I get SO excited at the thought of spaghetti 😀  And because HK style diners like Phoenix have so many different spaghetti and pasta combinations, I get to pick and choose to my heart’s content!  They have everything from pasta with sausage, pineapple, mushrooms, sauteed veggies, and fish cutlets to dishes with sauces like tomato, black pepper, white cream, garlic, and mushroom.

It just so happens that these two delicious dishes I’m showing you today both have seafood and cheese: 1) a spaghetti dish with baby clams, cream sauce, a little bit of baked, melted cheese on top, and a giant puff pastry to go along with it! and 2) a HK style macaroni and cheese meal with incredibly soft macaroni covered in ooey gooey pull-apart cheese, served with crab meat, squid, and shrimp.  Not only do I adore how fast Phoenix dishes out their meals, but I’ve loved everything I’ve ever eaten here and these meals were no different.

The quality is bang on and they set themselves apart from others with such a large selection of menu items that have both HK and Chinese staples (chow mein, ho fun, tong mein) and unique, unexpected dishes (c’mon when have you EVER been to a place that served puff pastry with clam spaghetti?!).  Everyone has their own version and definition of comfort food, and this is definitely one of mine.  It warms, it satisfies, and it makes me feel wiggly happy all over.  Pasta and cheese – it doesn’t get any better than that!

I may have stuck with what I knew I loved when it came to the food, but I did the unexpected when it came to ordering my drink: I ordered red bean.  Let’s put this another way: DEB DOESN’T LIKE RED BEAN AND NEVER HAS.  So why in the world did I order it?!  Because after all these years of wrinkling my nose and puckering my mouth, I’ve given red bean another shot, the same way I’ve given chocolate mint a whirl and the same way I’ve done a complete 180 when it comes to bell peppers.  Growing up, I would always turn down the red bean dessert that came at the end of the Chinese restaurant dinner (tong sui), I wouldn’t touch the pineapple red bean buns with a ten-foot pole, and I would ignore the red bean drinks on the menu and pretend they weren’t there.  To say the least, I was not a fan.

But I’ve had a change of heart as of late (and by that I mean in the last few months) and it’s been growing on me.  There aren’t a lot of things I don’t like to eat (healthy things, of course!), so I make a conscious effort to give the things I used to dislike a shot and I realize that I rather enjoy them now.  And it feels great opening myself up to it all.  Thus, enter the red bean ice slush drink with the sweet whipped cream on top.  I liked ^_^ 

These photos, and the meals they capture, are special to me.  Not only do these photos depict two different meals that have two very specific things I love in common (seafood and cheese!), but they also tell the story of a girl simaltaneously branching out and staying in her comfort food zone.


Prices for mains range from $6-$9 and many meals include your choice of drink, with an additional charge added for special drinks like slushes, floats, and ices.  Phoenix serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with a selection of appetizers, snacks, desserts, and tea time specials.  Phoenix’s 3 locations are in Markham and Thornhill:

  1. 1 Raymerville Drive, Markham.  Intersection of McCowan and Raymerville Drive south, located north of Hwy.7 and Bullock Drive, south of 16th Ave.
  2. 7155 Woodbine Ave., Markham.  Intersection of Steeles and Woodbine, just north of Steeles.  Off the 404 Steeles highway exit
  3. 8190 Bayview Ave., Thornhill.  North of John St, south of Langstaff Rd.

Hong Kong style at The Phoenix


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. 1 Raymerville Drive, Markham.  Intersection of McCowan and Raymerville Drive south, located north of Hwy.7 and Bullock Drive, south of 16th Ave.
  2. 7155 Woodbine Ave., Markham.  Intersection of Steeles and Woodbine, just north of Steeles.  Off the 404 Steeles highway exit.
  3. 8190 Bayview Ave., Thornhill.  North of John St, south of Langstaff.