Merry Christmas from Hong Kong. I've been back for almost 2 weeks, and my blogging has been horrible. Here's my Christmas present - and a vow to blog more.
Saw GI Joe on the plane from Chicago and also Sherlock Holmes earlier today... but today I want to talk about 柱记之死.
For those of you who don't know, 柱记 is a congee restaurant that I grew up with in the Bonham Road area. When I was young, my family rarely went out to eat breakfast. When we did, it was always 柱记, a super hole in the wall congee place that set up shop on the street side, covered by a few metal sheets (铁皮) and supported by a few pieces of iron plates on the floor. It leaked from the ceiling, and you watch your step so you don't fall onto the streets. But, man, the congee was good. Alan and I always looked forward to the day our dad went out for breakfast, cus we knew the tasty congee and the fried dough (which you dip in the congee) would be near.
Eventually, 柱记 made enough money and morphed into a shop (I found out on a random visit during high school... I had to get used to it being in a real shop space!). The staff remained. The dad and mom took orders. There was the same congee cook. On busy days, the sons and daughters would help take orders. Besides the food, there was also the impeccable way of calculating the bill. Every bowl of congee was associated with a different color/size bowl. Same with fried dough and other appetizers. A metal plate was one piece of friend dough. A small flat plate meant two pieces. A bigger flat plate was for a more expensive bread. When you were done, they wandered over, took a look at your table, and yelled out the final bill. I've never heard a complaint before.
And then there was today. The name changed. The staff was no more. Replacing 柱记 was a place that had none of the familiarity and friendliness. The waitress was semi-deaf and couldn't remember our orders. She practically slammed the congee on the table. And she took about a minute to calculate the bill. WTF. Oh, and the quality of the food is down: the congee was too watery (not enough time spent on making it) and the fried dough was too crispy (too much oil).
Ah, the death of an icon for me. RIP, 柱记. You will be remembered. (And someone ought to start a competing congee place to get all the lost customers)
I'm moving on to a congee place that's a hole in the wall in Kennedy Town.