Fish Maw Soup Meets Baked Spaghetti at Hong Kong Cafe’s Fusion Pad
The Hong Kong Cafe in Jakarta is not a really a cafe; while its minimalist quasi-European decor suggests a hangout spot of sorts, the restaurant’s menu suggests a far more conventional food establishment.
With two locations, Central Park Mall in West Jakarta and Thamrin in Central Jakarta, it offers a memorable mixture of Asian and Western fusion dishes as well as the more straightforward oriental options, managing to maintain a certain uniqueness. It is also relatively affordable, with most items on the menu averaging a price of Rp 40,000 ($4.25).
As is the wont of many eateries around the city, the Hong Kong Cafe marks its best-selling items with the graphic of a chef’s hat on the menu. It only seems natural to order these items to see how they represent the restaurant’s best.
The fish maw soup is a popular dish, usually served during the Chinese New Year. Its main ingredient is the fish’s swim bladder, which offers a more tender taste than the fish’s meat.
The Hong Kong Cafe version sticks with the soup’s traditional recipe, with crab meat, shiitake mushrooms and wood ear fungus in a thick soup. It’s not as heavy tasting as the mix might suggest, resulting in a taste that might be rather plain for some diners, but it makes for a pleasantly light entree.
The HKC Nissin ramen comes in two modes: with the soup served separately from the noodles or all together in the same bowl. The ramen itself suggests an amalgamation between instant Japanese ramen and Indonesia’s own famed instant noodles.
There is nothing particularly memorable about the dish, except perhaps for the sides of sausage and fried chicken, but it would undeniably make quite a dreamy meal for many Indomie zealots.
The grouper fish and enoki mushroom dish is served with a lightly-lit flame to keep it at the right temperature and is heavy on its milky-soup taste.
The grouper and Japanese enoki mushrooms are delicately boiled, but it is slightly overtaken by a heavy dairy tang. Slender cuts of tomato, fried onions and quail eggs give the dairy undercurrent a balance so the meal does not feel like a huge chunk of liquid fat.
The Hang Zhou special prawn dish entices with a delectable combination of boiled prawns, light mayonnaise and a mix of mildly salty vegetables. The dish would make a fine entry to most high-end Mandarin restaurants.
The Western favorite comes in the form of baked spaghetti with fish and tomato sauce, which is a welcome deviation from the regular bolognaise sauce, and the baked barramundi fish mixes nicely with the heavy mozzarella cheese topping. It’s the perfect size for a pasta dish, still leaving some room for desert.
The Hong Kong Cafe offers a comfortable eating environment that makes up for its good-but-not-great menu. It is certainly worth a visit due to its affordability and hospitable service.
The Hong Kong Cafe
Jl. Sunda no. 5
Thamrin, Central Jakarta
Tel. 021 310 7868
Central Park Mall
1st floor, Unit L1 – 112b
Jl. Let. Jend. S. Parman Kav. 28
Tel. 021 5698 5378