Not that anyone would ever label me a food snob, but my intense longing for Hong Kong fast food would instantly put that claim to rest.
Like in the US, Hong Kong has a few major fast food chains. Think McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s–all serving more or less the same staples–but with Chinese characteristics.
One of the most popular fast food joints is Maxim’s, not to be confused with the parent company’s Western bakeries, mid-scale Chinese restaurants, or moon cakes. At Maxim’s fast food shops, I’d order curry chicken or barbecued chicken with scallion and ginger. Once in a while I’d even try their “Western dishes” of tomato sauce infused spaghetti dotted with frozen vegetables.
Another favorite is Cafe de Coral. I could spot their bubbly logo anywhere and was always fascinated by the use of the French de in the name. Tres chique, n’est-ce pas? The Chinese name of this fast food joint translates into everyone’s happy.
And then there’s Fairwood, where most afternoons (during the two years I worked at a university press) I’d duck next door with my co-worker Annie for a tall glass of hong dou bing, or red bean ice (doused in the obligatory condensed milk).
And sometimes if we skipped tea at Fairwood, we’d luck out when a co-worker bought everyone in the office a round of tea in the Maxim’s on the ground floor of our building. My favorite snack was a thick piece of deep-fried french toast stuffed with peanut butter and drizzled with a honey-like syrup. And of course washed down with a hot cup of lingmun cha (lemon tea).
Chinese fast food cafes are so easy to find in Hong Kong, no matter how remote the village. If one city knows convenience, it’s Hong Kong. But these places have nothing in common with the US chain, Panda Express, except that they all serve fast food.
On a side note, back when my former in-laws from Hubei province lived with us for a year in San Francisco, we took them to a food court one day. My then-husband brought them around the stalls and when they saw rice at Panda Express, they figured they wouldn’t go hungry. But when my then-husband informed them Panda Express is supposed to be Chinese food, my in-laws suddenly looked surprised.
“Zhen de?” they asked. Is that true?
They had no idea they were eating Chinese food.