• Leyla Hur, as featured in Munaty Cooking

    Leyla Hur, as featured in Munaty Cooking

    "In Hong Kong, everything revolves around food, and it was not different in my family. In my family, each meal was truly an event and that is something I still hold close. Right after we finished one meal, Dad would discuss with us what we would have for our next meal..."

  • About Leyla

    About Leyla

    "Even from my earliest years, I liked to feed people and share my food with others. I have been privileged enough to grow up in Hong Kong, live in Malaysia, Australia, Canada, and now the United States; and I have travelled extensively throughout the world, sampling the delicacies of..."

  • Asian Beef Lettuce Cups (with Vegetarian Alternative)

    Asian Beef Lettuce Cups (with Vegetarian Alternative)

    "In Hong Kong, this is very famous and usually comes when you order Peking Duck. The restaurant will then make three dishes from the duck. You will usually get the skin (Peking Duck) which is served with..."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best Hong Kong Dining in Review

On a cold and raining night in the Valley of the Sun, what does one do? Head over to Best Hong Kong Dining in Mesa and enjoy a piping hot bowl of chicken congee (porridge).

Best Hong Kong Dining is one of our favourite haunts and the place definitely deserves to have a featured review.

Not a fancy restaurant by any means, it is a typical Hong Kong-style noodle house. There are two tell-tale signs of a "good" and authentic Chinese restaurant; the first is that it is packed with Chinese people. Those of us who are Chinese, lived for any extended time in Asia (especially Hong Kong), or are part Asian, have extremely distinct tastes and we know when Chinese food is authentic or what we consider to be "gweilo" (exactly translated "white devil"), therefore when we find a Chinese restaurant that is filled with Chinese, we know that the food is authentic and tasty.

The second tell-tale sign of an authentic Chinese restaurant are the hanging roast ducks and roast chickens in the window.

When I first arrived in Arizona, it was important for me to find a good Chinese restaurant. My dear husband tried his best to take me to the places he had grown to love and the "Chinese" food he felt were authentic. I have no idea what some of the food that went into my mouth was, but it was definitely not Chinese. So began my search...

After several depressing months, one evening we spotted an Asian supermarket tucked far in a corner of a strip-mall. Needing to stock up on ingredients for Chinese food (if I wasn't going to find a restaurant that served the good stuff, I'd have to make it myself), we pulled into the parking lot. Suddenly a familiar scent wafted into my nose and every part of me felt the tug on my heart as memories of Hong Kong flooded my emotions. I had to follow my nose and find the source this delectable memory. I did not have to search far as suddenly a group of very happy Chinese people emerged from what had to be the source. I found myself pulling my husband to the place these very happy people had just emerged from. In a moment that was reminiscent of the heavens opening and a choir of angels singing "Hallelujah", I found an oasis that comprised of, what could only be where the entire population of Chinese in Arizona hang out. This was the place!

As I entered the doors that first time, reveling in the atmosphere of loud Cantonese banter, cutlery clanking on the table, couples spending a typical family meal together where both parents were reading the newspaper while the kids ate noisily, my eyes drifted over to what was the pot at the end of the rainbow, rows of ducks and chickens hanging behind a window.

After that first visit, BHKD became our place. Soon we were considered regulars. Today, we walk in and Mei greets us and asks immediately if we want "diet coke - one with ice, one with out". When we have not been there for a while, we are met with questions of where we have been and why we have not been there "for so long time". It feels like family, and that is what Best Hong Kong Dining truly is, a family restaurant. It is a place where families come to be themselves with no airs or graces of more formal restaurants. Where, when you go often enough, they will remember your name, and your favourite dish. Where you feel comfortable enough to help yourself to more napkins if you need them, and where the servers treat you as a part of their extended family.

And the food, the food is completely authentic with a good mix of food that many local people will enjoy and without it being "too exotic" that may dissuade more delicate palates.

If you have spent any time in Hong Kong, you will surely have had Won Ton soup, or more specific Won Ton Mein (won ton noodle soup). BHKD has, bar none the best, and most authentic, won ton's in the Valley. Although, I can no longer eat it as it contains pork, the flavour is one which I remember from my days when I had no problems eating pork.

Tonight I had one of my other favourite foods, one which is a total comfort food, and that is chicken congee (Chicken Porridge on the menu). I always ask for a little dish of their special-made ginger sauce that is more commonly served with their steamed white chicken. Added to the congee, and it is heaven in a bowl.

For those who do enjoy eating pork, their char siu is truly amazing. It is something I have tried elsewhere in the Valley before, and no place else compares.

Their roast duck and 5-spice chicken (also known in HK circles as "crispy" skin chicken) is amazing.

Their menu is extensive and has something for everyone. Their prices are extremely reasonable - a full meal can be less than what you would pay for several items at a fast food restaurant, and healthier for you too. A large bowl of chicken congee (enough for several smaller bowls) is only $4.25 and a bowl of Hong Kong Won Ton Mein $5.65. They have specials at lunch time that are less than $6 and full family dinners that can run you from $25.99 on up. If you want a meal for yourself, try one of their rice plates which are from $5.65 on up to $8.25. On average, their dishes run from $4.25 (for appetizers) to less than $15 on average with a few exceptions like Peking Duck which is $24.95.

If you have problems with MSG, make sure that you tell them to not add any MSG otherwise, in true HK fashion, they'll enhance the flavour of all dishes with it.

If you are in the Valley, I absolutely recommend you stopping in and enjoying a good meal. Best Hong Kong Dining is located at 1116 S. Dobson Rd #123, Mesa AZ 85202. It's on the NW corner of Dobson and Southern in the strip mall behind Oregano's Pizza Restaurant.


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