What happens when film art director Angelo Castilho dresses up a restaurant? You get the richness of a movie set and the feeling that you are having an experience, not just a meal. Every surface of Café Match Box is covered with bing sut tiles and wood panelling, and the theme of old Hong Kong means retro clocks, old movie posters and stool seating.
Like many rebirths of cha chaan tengs, this one serves notable favourites such as fluffy egg sandwiches, elbow macaroni in soup with ham, and sweetened milk tea so thick you could stand a spoon in it. As we sat down at a shared table, our hip, young waiter urged us to order the set menu of buttered toast, ham omelette, fried egg sandwich, char sui (roast pork) over spaghetti ($36), and the chicken pot pie ($32) for good measure.
The char sui spaghetti was exactly that, but in a shallow bowl of chicken broth, while the pork was chewy and belted with fat. The spaghetti was nothing to note, and the soup was bland. My dining companion reminded me that this is simple food, and that it should be light in flavour, yet filling. I’m not sure I agree with this, and if this was the only dish I was going to get I wanted it to be fantastic, or at least full of flavour.
Next up was a good sized bowl of pig’s liver in ramen noodles with Demae Itcho packets of sesame oil and MSG soup powder on a separate plate. “This means we are getting a good brand of instant noodles, and not the cheap, imitation stuff,” my companion said. The ramen were telephone curls of egg noodles in a broth made from liver. The liver itself was thin-cut and steeped in the soup long enough to carry the broth’s flavour, but not long enough that it masked the livery taste. The liver was as slippery as organs tend to be, and had a really strong odour which was hard to stomach if you are not a liver fan.
Next, an item we’d never seen before at a cha chaan teng arrived at the table: chicken pot pie and an electric green puddle of pea soup – unusual even in Western eateries. We had no idea why this would even go together, but strangely it did. The pastry crust crumbled at the slightest touch to reveal chunks of chicken, ham and mushrooms.It took a spoon and fork to get the soup and pie in one go. Again, there is no reasoning behind this combination, but we went with it. The waiter said it went well with ketchup, but we decided to go naked for this one. The ham and egg sandwich was the super fluffy kind with the super fluffy toast. The eggs were mixed with Kowloon Dairy milk and loaded with butter, as was the thick white toast. It was a simple combo.
One thing we would definitely come back for are the banana hot cakes ($42). Three stacks of evenly browned hot cakes sandwiched slices of warm banana and walnuts. The caramel and cream sauce pulled this entire dish together giving the sweet tooth a reason to live. Served hot off the griddle, this is one of our favourite dishes of the year so far.
On the way out we were tempted by the warm egg tarts at their take out counter but with plenty of good food in our bellies, we decided enough was enough.
G/F, 8 Cleveland St, Causeway Bay, 2868 0363. Daily 8am-1am. Meal for two: around $120.
|Venue name:||The Match Box|
G/F, 8 Cleveland St, Causeway Bay