Main Street Deli, Langham Hotel, T.S.T., Kowloon
Price: HK $500 or US $60 for two, including booze.
Would we go back? Yes, but on a rainy day.
Despite our overpriced disaster of a meal at the W Hotel, I haven't given up on our quest to find a good brunch spot on The Dark Side.
Earlier this week, I found myself at Main Street Deli at the Langham. (Why is it that, outside Central, hotels have a brunch monopoly?) A friend and I had gone to share a salad before a Hong Kong Arts Festival show at the Cultural Centre. I remembered how much I used to like this place. I also noticed that they had standard diner / deli brunch items: pancakes, French toast, corned beef hash, eggs, even smoked salmon and cream cheese on a bagel.
The only problem with the Main Street Deli is that it's essentially in a basement and sun-less. I know this doesn't bother most locals, who will close the blinds on the most beautiful sunny day, but we like natural light.
We made a deal -- if it was sunny, we'd go somewhere with a terrace, or at least a window. But since it was grey, we went to Main Street Deli.
It was generally a good experience. I like sitting in their big cushy booths (or "car-seats", as we call them here), which are private. You can linger as long as you want with your coffee and newspaper. It's unpretentious and quiet. It's not packed, meaning you don't have to deal with some hostess telling you there won't be a table for two hours.
The food is expensive for what it is -- but the portions are huge and, as we keep reminding ourselves, brunch is still special imported foreign food in Hong Kong. (If we want cheap, we can go Chinese).
Marc got the excellent corned beef sandwich. The meat is warm and tender, and served with mustard on proper rye bread with carraway seed.
I got the French toast, with hesitation. I don't understand the instinct here to fancy everything up by making simple dishes into multi-layered, stacked things with peaches, vanilla, yoghurt, honey and God knows what. Why can't they just dip some French bread into egg, fry and top with maple syrup? (Or stewed apples or berries. That's what I would do at home).
Anyway, it was pretty good. I knew what the description was on the menu and I asked for it. At least they got that basic texture right, and they did bring me maple syrup when requested.
I also knew that the advertised "Canadian bacon" was too good to be true. Real Canadian bacon consists of lean, ham-like slices, lightly crisped on the edges. (Maybe it's called peameal bacon in America?) What I got was plain 'ol supermarket streaky fatty bacon -- but one cannot have everything in life.
The bill for two was about HK $500, or US $64. It included the biggest, freshest orange juice I've had in a long time, plus coffee and two glasses of wine.
* Despite the fact that it's quite close as the crow flies, it's actually a bit of a pain getting from West Kowloon to T.S.T., since there's no direct MTR line. (To take the subway, we'd have to go through Hong Kong Island oddly). There is a mini-bus, but it takes forever.
So we have to take a cab and, of course, T.S.T. traffic is awful on a Saturday and the place is jammed with Mainland tourists.
The whole point of finding a Kowloon brunch place is to stay close to home -- but, given the commuting time, we could have taken the MTR two stops to Central and just about walked up to the F.C.C.