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A taste of Hong Kong in San Mateo: New Café Tsui Wah offers up diverse menu
February 17, 2014, 05:00 AM By Kerry Chan Daily Journal

Kerry Chan/Daily Journal
Manager Simon Chu brings a bowl of traditional rice porridge soup with seafood alongside fried chinese doughnuts.

Chow mein egg noodles with crisp edges topped with gravy and stir-fry strips of pork, bean sprouts, carrots and shitake mushrooms.

Cafe Tsui Wah, the newly opened restaurant in San Mateo’s Marina Plaza at East Hillsdale Boulevard is tucked behind a beauty spa and hard to spot — yet the circular logo with green and yellow text pique familiarity and comfort for some who are no stranger to the city of Hong Kong and Asia.

“This place is my new go-to restaurant now that I live here, I was pretty excited when I found out they were open,” said Irene Young, a 36-year-old attorney in Hong Kong who recently moved to Millbrae.

The name Tsui Wah came from a restaurant chain in Hong Kong that started in 1967. Café Tsui Wah in San Mateo has no affiliation with the established overseas chain but its concept follows the same style of eateries known as “cha chaan teng.”

Found in metropolitan cities throughout Asia, cha chaan tengs are much like diners typically open 24 hours a day with menu offerings aimed at satisfying a diverse group of patrons. Dishes that are indigenous to Asian palettes are noodles, wontons or dumplings; crispy chow mien; rice plates and congee, a rice porridge cooked with meat or vegetables.

For the large population of American, British and European expatriates living abroad, the cafes created an adaptation of western dishes like pork chops over baked spaghetti; pasta dishes, ham and egg sandwiches, chicken wings, fries and omelets now customary on most cha chaan tengs menus.

Cha chaan tengs are a place to grab a quick bite or a social destination for families and friends to meet over coffee or share a meal.

At Café Tsui Wah, the decor mirrors the feel of a casual no-nonsense diner with a comfortable setting and streamline look with tables and booth benches.

Along the wall are pictures of special dishes to entice a craving or help a cha chaan teng rookie visualize an item on the menu. Prices are reasonable with appetizers and entrees ranging from $5 to $12.

Things to try:

House Special Congee: A traditional style rice porridge soup with variations of meats or vegetables added. Usually, accompanied with the Chinese doughnut, long rectangular shaped dough lightly fried, similar to a beignet without the powder sugar that can be dunked in the congee.

Crispy chow mien with choice of chicken, pork, seafood or vegetarian toppings: Egg noodles pan fried with into a nest with create crispy edges that soften when savory brown gravy stir fried with meat and vegetables is served on top.

Wonton Noodle soup: Shrimp and pork raviolis wrapped in a delicate light skin and chewy, thin egg noodles in a chicken based broth.

Sweet Iced Lemon Tea: Fresh brewed tea served with ice and slices of lemon, sweet and refreshing.

Café TW Tsui Wah is located at 2946 S. Norfolk St. in San Mateo, (650) 341-1899.



Tags: chaan, dishes, tengs, crispy, congee, chicken,

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