There was a time, many years ago, when going out for Chinese food meant choosing between Combo A, B or C. Or, if you were lucky, your folks would take you to the Rickshaw in Surrey for the Saturday night smorgasbord. All the different and new flavors and textures…the garlic, the ginger, the won tons, deep-fried pork and prawns. But that was the 70’s, and it was all we had. Now our choices include Szechuan and Shanghainese, Punjabi and Sri Lankan, xiǎlóngbāo and sui mai, dosas and paneer. For a lover of Asian cuisine, it’s all wonderfully mind-boggling.
One of the best parts of the culinary “Asian invasion” are the restaurants that serve up the food from where the cultures mixed. In particular Hakka and Desi cuisine. All of those favorite Chinese standards are re-imagined with Indian spices.
The Vegetarian Spring Rolls were fairly standard. The best part was the tart & vinegary slaw served alongside. Pickled cabbage and carrot with a spice I just could not put a finger on. Whatever it was, it worked perfectly.
The other day I had a hankering for Pad Thai. Having visited all the Thai restaurants in the Burnaby/New West area, I decided to venture across the Fraser. After reading Sherman’s take on Hakka Masti’s version of Pad Thai, I had to try it for myself.
Hakka Masti is a Chinese-Indian fusion restaurant with a variety of Thai cuisine added to the mix. It all makes for quite an extensive menu and some interesting flavor combinations.
First off, the ever-popular Hot & Sour Soup. Normally there would be slivered carrot and bamboo shoot, maybe wood-ear funghi. Hakka’s version is quite different. This is loaded with cilantro and what appear to be canned, sliced button mushrooms. Quite unexpected but damn tasty. Oh, and BTW, it is very, very spicy! That ain’t just some wimpy white boy talking. As I was eating my soup, an Indian gentleman got up from his table to tell the server that there was too much spice in his family’s meal! Now that’s some heat!