Macau food lovers rejoice. The new and aptly named T-28 Bakery & Cafe (located on...Taraval @ 28th Ave) serves a mix of Hong Kong style western food (similar to Broadway Bistro, Washington Bakery, Marios, Top Cafe etc) but mainly specializes in snacks and small dishes commonly found in Macau.
I don't think there are any Portugese style items on the menu, but some of the things there definitely are what the local Chinese would eat, and they have those.
Don't let the name fool you. They don't have a bakery counter and they don't sell bread/pastries. The greatest catch of this place is that they serve food at fantastic prices (great value) but the downside is that they accept cash only. It is a few doors down from Okazu-Ya (home of the great iron plate sea bass dinner), and women ought to rejoice some more as right next door is a new cosmetics store called Masks & More that sell the immensely popular Laniege brand of cosmetics (from Korea, but they are huge in Asia/Taiwan/Korea/Hong Kong at the moment). But I digress.
I had the HK style milk tea on ice and while it was on the sweet side, something about this drink made me feel that something was done right! I haven't quite had the definitive cup in the Bay Area, mainly because nobody seems to have nailed down the proper mix of tea leaves and brewing techniques (which they do so well in Hong Kong). The hot version of the drink which I had the next night, was named in Chinese "Pantyhose Milk Tea". The name came from the fact that the cheese cloth like filter turned brown quickly from the tea stains after multiple pourings between pots, and after taking it out it looked like a pantyhose! Could have been a gimmick really since that was what it was called as early as the 50s in HK. The hot version at T-28 had a nice texture to it, and what the Cantonese would say "smooth" or "slippery". If you are a true HK style milk tea enthusiast then you might want to give their version a try!
Of the other things I've had or tasted on the menu of note from 2 meals worth:
- Imitation Shark's Fin Soup - $3. This was a big disapopintment. Not that I know what fake shark's fin soup should taste like, but this was almost bordering on hot & sour soup without the spicy + sourness. I don't recommend it.
- Marinated fried tofu (aka Soy Sauce Tofu on the menu) $3.25. Generous chunks of fried tofu with the "Lo Shui" cantonese style marination. The tofu texture was soft, almost like a good agedashi in a Japanese restaurant.
- Green onion pancake with butter - $2.95. This is the typical flat kind with the green onion...with a twist of butter taste in it. Dad said this was a true Macau style spin. I think I would have preferred it without the butter, but it definitely is an interesting experience
- Soup - Cream of Corn with Chicken $3.75 - The texture seemed a wee bit watery, but the flavor was fantastic. This is probably the best version I've had. The chicken chunks were generous and very tasty.
- Portugese Style Baked Chicken and Pork Chop with rice (or your choice of spaghetti) - $5.75. I've never had an authentic version of this before so I cannot compare (sadly not even in Hong Kong!). The sauce was dark yellow like curry, but was mild and had a unique flavor to it. They cooked or fried the chicken first before baking it (ditto for the pork chop). The chicken came out tastier than the pork for this dish.
- Yellow Fur Chicken 1/2 - $8.95 - for half a chicken, and for one that is "yellow fur" the portion is quite good. More meatier than expected, considering if you go to 99 ranch and go to the packed chicken meat section, yellow fur chicken is practically skin and bones with little meat
- Macau style wonton in soup - $4.95. Mom didn't like it but I thought it tasted pretty good. It tasted less like a HK wonton and more like a xiao lung bao contents wise with a wee bit of shrimp (and wonton skin of course)
- Salted Pork Bone Porridge - $4.25. The congee was pretty good but what made it fantastic were the small pieces of pork bone they put in. The meat literally fell off the bone and with the light saltiness it went really well with this dish. Supposedly also a known dish in Macau and probably something a Hakkanese person might like too
- Macau style Pork Chop Bun - $3.50. I know a lot of Hong Kong / Macau expats here will judge a Macau restaurant that serves a variety of food whether they have the famous pork chop bun. If you saw the episode on Channel 8 cable (KTVU-26) about 2 months ago of that Hong Kong food show "Eating Miracles", they did one on the pork chop bun in Macau where people would line up for an hour to buy.
The restaurant that bills itself as "Macau Street" across from 99 Ranch in Richmond apparently does not serve this, but lo and behold they do at T-28! I've heard about this item but never had the chance to try it until now. The bun is like a delicate airy baguette that crumples when bit into, very airy and puffy on the inside. The pork chop was deep fried but had a wonderful taste to it. At $3.50 this won't quite fill you up but makes a killer appetizer. I believe they did butter the insides of the bun.
Dessert selection is limited and oddly is displayed on the top left corner, page 1 of the menu before the appetizers! (I like the way they think). But I did have the hot sesame paste (Jee Ma Woo), and let me say that this is the BEST version out of all the Bay Area HK dessert places out there, and comes close to what I had when I was a kid growing up in Hong Kong. It was on the sweet side, but the flavor was very authentic.
I didn't have this but I saw another table order it and it looked like a winner. It is called the Pork Bone Pot in English, and it was basically pork bones (with the bone marrow inside) served with other ingredients, with an interesting soup base in a clay pot. For $2 more they can serve it with a portable gas stove underneath to keep it warm and toasty.
The following are available, but you have to call in advance:
Frog & Crab Porridge - $18
Portuguese Style Fried Curry Crab - $16
Mixed Mushroom and Crab Pot - $18
Macau Style Fried Crab (Bay Fung Tong style) - $16
Thai Style Fried Crab with Coconut Milk - $16
OK I've let the cat out of the bag. Hopefully this place keeps up its standard. A heads up to those thinking of going....the place only holds 14 tables, some are 2 seaters and a few can fit 4, 5 if you can squeeze people in. Get there early, or else expect a wait. There is a signup sheet.