Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Road Trip: Hong Kong - Macon, GA

5936 Zebulon Rd. 478/471-0979

Hong Kong is exactly the kind of restaurant I normally loathe. The primary reason for this is because it serves Americanized Chinese food, a pseudo cuisine mainly consisting of fried rice, limp broccoli and poor quality dark meat chicken. Hong Kong is located in a shopping center where Kroger is the anchor store. It's right beside a Blockbuster, a position that almost immediately dooms every restaurant in my mind: this screams to the public that your food is only good enough for take-out.

Hong Kong is not a sit-down restaurant per se. There are cheap plastic booths where you may sit, but there is no table service. When you enter the restaurant you will see large pictures of the 15 or so dishes above the cash register. All of them are quite familiar and generally boring: moo goo gai pan, cashew chicken, sweet and sour shrimp. I hate ordering based on overhead photos.

I ordered the house chow mein fun because it was the most ridiculous sounding item on the menu, poured myself some water in a very tiny plastic cup from the automatic dispenser, and settled glumly into the cold plastic booth.

I absolutely cannot believe that I am writing this, but I loved the house chow mein fun.

Maybe its strengths can be traced to the word "house." In my experience, "house" can mean one of two things: 1. a concoction of the cheapest leftover ingredients in the kitchen or 2. an opportunity for an otherwise regulated chef to make his own, surprisingly good creation. The house chow mein fun was the latter. It included chow mein noodles, with generous portions of thinly sliced green onions, pork, chicken, shrimp and a quite salty but delicious sauce. The chicken was white meat, chunky and juicy, and the shrimp was fatter and tasted fresher than I have normally encountered in like restaurants. I liked the dish so much that I took half of it home and ate it for dinner.

Of course my cousin Holly, who is 13 years old and the reason we were eating at Hong Kong in the first place, really enjoyed her General Tso's chicken. I tasted it and was unimpressed, the feeling I expected to have about my own entree. I also ordered an egg roll, which unfortunately turned out to be nearly tasteless.

Portions were very large (most diners should only order the "small") and appropriately inexpensive. All 3 of the people in my party took home leftovers. Possibly the worst thing about the restaurant is that they serve these huge meals on very wimpy Styrofoam plates which bow under the weight of the food, and you'll be struggling with the cheap plastic utensils. In hindsight, maybe this would have been a great take-out choice because then you can use your own dishes and cutlery at home.

Verdict: A surprisingly good Americanized Chinese stop.

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