"The room maybe isn't dirty enough and the service isn't gruff enough... but otherwise this is as authentic of a Hong Kong diner experience as I suspect you'll find most places in the U.S.," says Luther of Cafe de Lulu, a windowless basement diner, yes, but a windowless basement diner with charm.
The fare is classic cha chaan teng, or Hong Kong diner. Like American diners, these places serve breakfast stuff along with simple dinner items. Unlike American diners, you might be served toast with condensed milk, Spam, and salt-and-pepper shrimp. The proprietress is charming and fluent in English, Cantonese, and Mandarin. Luther recommends the three-items-with-rice-and-soup plate for $22, and suggests that you might want to choose the Hong Kong–style sweet-and-sour pork ("the best version I've had in the U.S."), home-style eggplant, or one of the various mushroom-and-vegetable combinations. barleywino speaks up for the deep-fried fish fillet in garlic sauce: "Tender flaky fish, lightly dusted w/ flour to give a hint of crispiness, a rich dark three-cups-chicken type of sauce well balanced between salt, heat and sweet."
gourmaniac has made it in a few times for breakfast and recommends the congee and soy sauce noodles.
Cafe de Lulu [Chinatown]
42 Beach Street, Boston