Saturday, June 2, 2012

2012 HK Trip - Xia Mian Guan (夏麵館)

Location: Diamond Hill, S.A.R. Hong Kong

Finding my second day in Hong Kong around the area of Diamond Hill and in search of lunch, I pulled out the list prepared prior to my travels and looked for this shop in the area. Since Hollywood Plaza is right at the exit of Diamond Hill MTR station, it wasn't difficult in finding this shop within the mall.

A snap off their menu, with the colors of autumn... (what's the color of summer anyway?) Their motto: there's good food/dish/meal in the shop...

If it is transliterated, Xia Mian Guan stands for something akin to Summer Noodles Shop. The environment within the shop was filled with the colors of autumn instead of mimicking the colors of summer - red, amber and orange spread generously throughout the interior.

One thing was sure though - the shop tried its best to bring out the atmosphere of dining within a traditional Chinese shop. Even though Hong Kong is within the Chinese borders now, its culture is not. To Hong Kongese, Chinese is as much a foreign culture to them as Malaysian is.

And a shot off the paper lining on their table...

Hanging off the wall is a framed picture of deities discussing over a bowl of noodles, presumably Xia Mian Guan's. This picture filled its role as a traditional Chinese decoration with all its calligraphy and colorful inked painting. The stylistic name of this painting is on the upper right corner, calling itself 論面圖, the painting of the noodle discussion.

Calligraphy, traditional Chinese ink paintings and frames of woodwork all screamed towards a Chinese prone decoration. A dim interior set me to recall my late night dinner on the day before, in Mong Kok's 囍点 (read the article here), where the interior was brightly lit. Space was in great demand, and seats had to be cramped near each other, though a comfortable distance was still set between them.

A framed wooden door greeting diners reminded me of the ancient Chinese inns (客栈) always seen in Kung Fu movies with a story set in a period long long time ago.

The interior of Xia Mian Guan was dimly lit. The highlight was stolen by Chinese lanterns decorating the ceiling and doubling as light source, as well by the wooden arches.

It was here that again I felt pressured by the pace in Hong Kong. People came and go while we took our own sweet time to enjoy our lunch. Life was hectic here, but then again, it was a working day. Some chattered with their friends while slurping through their lunch, while a handful others just enjoy their meal in quiet solitude, the latter of which was more common than I expected.

Hong Kongese did not take long to finish their meal, and neither did they need to wait long for the meal. So fast was the meal delivered that I barely got time to snap more than a few photos before the meal was stuffed in front of me.

Braised Noodle with Diced Chicken (嫩雞煨麵) (HKD38) - as bland as the broth looks, this bowl of steaming noodles wasn't so. The broth is slightly salty with the slight sweetness of chicken. The chewy pieces of meat mixed with crunchy vegetables makes the braised noodle a recommended for those of you who are not a fan of strong tastes and prefer milder dish. Be prepared to face a large bowl. Definitely enough to sate any hunger you had.

Stewed String Bean with Dried Shrimp and Diced Preserved Vegetable (干煸四季豆) (HKD38) may not be the best of what Xia Mian Guan offer, but it was what we ordered to preserve a healthy dietary balance with greens. Let's just say that there were other better choices.

The ordered noodles came in large bowls, and although the broth was not filled to the rim, I was still surprised by the sheer size of it. We ordered two different bowls to try out, one with a blander taste and another with, presumably, stronger taste. Xia Mian Guan may offered itself as a specialist in noodles but that was not the only meal they offered. Available on the menu were a range of dim sums, appetizers, desserts, as well as rice meals for those who cannot stand without a scoop of it throughout the day.

Despite the horrifyingly crimson look of Noodle Soup with Deep-fried Spare Rib in Spicy Sesame Sauce (排骨擔擔面) (HKD48) coupled with the chili symbol beside it on the menu, this bowl was nothing to our Malaysian taste buds. You may not get the spiciness which you want, but the broth offered other delicious surprises. The thick broth was fragrant with the smell of crush peanuts and with a separate plate of spare ribs, it was enough to beckon us to dig in without a moment's delay.

Not sure what to order? The symbols in the menu will be helpful in the matter - spicy (*snicker*) would be represented by chili and recommended dish by a 夏 symbol. If you are a vegetarian, then Xia Mian Guan has vegetarian dishes to offer as well. 

For our initial foray into Hong Kong dining, Xia Mian Guan was not a bad choice, especially so that we had just concluded our visit to the nearby Wong Tai Sin temple and Nan Lian Gardens, and were craving for good food to sate our growling tummies. 

If you were to find yourself nearby Diamon Hill area, and had just concluded your visit to the nearby attractions, then Xia Mian Guan could be one of your possible choices, and I hope that this article will be helpful to you.

PS: This article is written based on the experience of dining within Hollywood Plaza's branch located within Diamond Hill. Experience may differ from other branches of the same shop.

Suitable for:            a casual lunch or dinner
Cost:                             It took us a total of ~HKD110 for 2 persons, which is roughly RM23 per person for a meal. All things considered, this is just the normal price of dining within a shop in Hong Kong.

Website:                    Main page (only available in Mandarin). The menu page is available here. More reviews in Hong Kong Mandarin through Open Rice

Contact:                     +852 - 3101 9701 
Address:                     173A, 1st floor, Hollywood Plaza, Diamond Hill

Operating hours:   Daily (11:30a.m. - 11:00p.m.)
Getting there:          Exit at either Diamond Hill station C1 or C2 and you will step into Hollywood Plaza. Look for the 1st floor and the shop. The plaza's layout is quite straightforward, so it shouldn't be a problem finding the shop.

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