This idea was well conceived, but didn’t quite work out as we expected. The food was good, particularly the two Malaysian dishes we had, but the restaurant was hotter than our place and nearly as warm as it was outside. I glanced at the thermostat, which registered over 90. Ice water was refilled constantly and the beer was cold, which helped. But I honestly felt like I was eating at an open-air noodle stand in Taipei. We started with steamed chicken and chive dumplings, same as last time, tasty filling but would rather have 6 dumplings stuffed with more chicken and chives than 8 leaner dumplings. The two dishes we had were Indian Fried Noodles and Kwe Tieu Goreng, both were large enough servings to share and we ended up taking enough home to have lunch for each of us the next day, as we don’t mind leftovers. Both of our dishes were spicy, I added more sriracha, and we were both sweating by the end of dinner, furiously mopping our brows with our napkins.
As we drank our cold Tiger beer, we laughed about the heat, as it was about the only thing you could do about it other than complain, which wasn’t going to change anything, and reminisced about the similarities to the eating atmosphere, temperature and weather on one of our honeymoon stops in Penang, Malaysia. While the food wasn’t as cheap as Penang, about $40 before tip, it was pretty darn good and a close approximation to the flavors and tastes during our trip last year. I’d definitely recommend sharing or ordering family style if you’re with a larger group so you can taste a bit of everything. That and try to go on a day where the weather cooperates a bit more unless you’re in search of an authentic dining experience that includes the atmosphere, heat and humidity of a Taipei or Penang in summer.
After drinks with a friend, Jenny received numerous cell phone calls from my mom and a work colleague that were stranded in Minneapolis on their way back from China due to the thunderstorms sweeping the Midwest on the heels of the heat-wave. So around 10:30 that night, I retrieved them from the airport since most of the hotels in the Cities were sold out that night, so that they could get some sleep before being rebooked on the first flight out the following day. Of course with the jetlag and long delays in the airport, neither of them had eaten much in the last 12 hours, so they were hungry. Not many mid-week dining options in Minneapolis after 11 PM. Luckily we were able to find Hong Kong Noodle still open until midnight on the U of M campus. I hadn’t been here in a while so it was nice to see that they had remodeled the interior a bit to freshen up the space. We ordered a hot congee with preserved egg and ground pork and a chow mai fun, thick rice noodle sautéed with green onions, bean sprouts and beef. Both dishes were really good and I was surprised I was hungry again after eating at Chindian, having a beer at Pracna and then rushing to the airport. But then again, when food tastes good you’ll still eat it even if you’re not really hungry. The difference between Hong Kong Noodle and Chindian is that these two dishes including tax and tip totaled just over $20. There weren’t any leftovers as the portion sizes were smaller, but a lot of times I’d rather have less expensive dishes that are smaller so that you can order more without looking like a pig or without having lots of leftovers to take home. It was a great evening talking to my mom and her friend about their trip to China and sharing a late night snack in the middle of an empty restaurant on the deserted U of M campus in the middle of summer. And yes, I was a good Taiwanese son and picked up the bill.