We stopped in the Lido Restaurant on Hazelbridge Way in Richmond. It’s nestled in a small corner strip mall between the Aberdeen Center and Parker Place Mall.
This busy little place is the epitome of a “Hong Kong Cafe”. We had to wait about 10 minutes for a table to open up.
What is it that characterizes a HK Cafe? Well, the food is probably the top criterion. It’s a blend of simple cantonese, and north american diner style cuisine, tailored to the chinese palate.
They’re usually small, and very compact, with as many tables as geometrically possible.
They have excessive menu-ing. Like this:
The last item is walls jam-packed with hand written signs announcing the current specials.
The specialties of this particular restaurant are the pineapple bun and egg tarts.
The pineapple bun is a soft sweet bread with a sweet crumbly top (similar to a sugar cookie). And in spite of the name, it has no pineapple as an ingredient (it’s so named because of the crumbly topping which typically has a golden cross hatched pattern that resembles the skin of a pineapple). The bread portion of this bun is pillowy soft and lightly sweet. The topping is lightly crunchy and crumbly and sweet. It’s a very good bun, and goes really well with a coffee.
The other specialty of the house is their egg tart.
These are small pastry shells filled with egg custard and baked. The egg tarts that I favor have a delicate flaky layered pastry shell. But Lido’s tarts use a short crust pastry shell (ie. not layered, not flakey, more like a pie shell). That said, the custard is terrific. It’s lightly sweet with a creamy egg flavor, and the pastry crust is crumbly and delicious. It helps that it was still warm out of the oven.
The lunch combo I ordered include a bowl of (what the restaurant calls ) borscht.
This is a misnomer. It’s not borscht, at least not what most of the world knows as borscht (which is a beet & cabbage soup with a dollop of sour cream on top). As I understand the history, a russian restaurant opened in Hong Kong and became quite popular. Their beet and cabbage soup was a hit, and spurred imitators all around town. But the imitators began adjusting the recipe until they arrived upon this, which is really a tomato based soup (with carrots, cabbage, celery, onions, and occasionally oxtail). So history aside, this is a pretty good vegetable soup, but nothing particularly noteworthy.
My lunch combo also came with garlic toast
This is a slice of white french bread sliced on the bias, topped with butter and granulated garlic powder, and toasted. I’m not a fan of granulated garlic powder, at least not used in this fashion, so I found this to be rather forgettable.
The “main” portion of my lunch combo consisted of curried beef brisket with rice
This is large cubes of beef brisket, braised until tender with large chunks of baked russet potatoes in curry sauce, served with a generous portion of white rice. The brisket here was tender and well seasoned, but the curry sauce itself was weak. The curry spices were very muted, almost like they were diluted down. And it was a little starchy, probably from a thickening agent.
My lunch companion ordered the ox-tongue with tomato sauce on rice
This is ox-tongue, braised until tender, then sliced and served over rice, with a tomato sauce that’s punctuated with mixed vegetables (onions, carrots, peas, green beans tomatoes, and mushrooms). The ox-tongue itself was quite good, very tender and nicely seasoned. The tomato sauce was not to my liking, it was slightly acidic, and had the consistency of canned tomato soup, thickened with starch. I don’t think it’s actually canned soup, I’m pretty sure it’s made from scratch. It’s just that this is how their customers like their tomato sauce.
The room is bright but cramped and boisterous.
The service is about what I expect from busy chinese restaurants. Efficient, but not especially friendly or helpful.
I think the pineapple bun and the egg tarts (their signature dishes) are quite good, and worth ordering, but beyond that, I find Lido to be pretty average HK cafe. The aforementioned pastries are available as take out and I would probably lean that way in the future.