Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hello Cafe (12/10/06)

After a nice evening at the movie theatre, Farofa and French Fries were not really hungry but knew they should eat or they would wake up starving the following morning. Driving home, they spotted the small shopping centre on Washington Avenue, which they often talk about stopping but never do.

There are several Chinese/Vietnamese little restaurants in that strip, but Hello Cafe looked like the most appealing to Farofa, who decided to be adventurous and order something with an ingredient she has never tried before, the Beef with Bitter Melon ($9.95).

Hello Cafe's atmosphere was not the most inviting by Farofa's standards, but seemed like a good enough place to eat - the late hour and decreasing temperature called for take-out, however.

At home, French Fries savoured but was not overwhelmed by her Chinese Baby Broccoli with Garlic (Market Price). It was tasty but a little too oily for FF's taste (one that often finds Chinese food oily for that matter). Meanwhile, Farofa got used to the idea of this unexpected-looking (but delicious-smelling) vegetable among her beef strips, having expected something that looked more like a melon, but getting a cacti-looking mix instead. Both dishes had a lot of garlic, but not enough to mask the bitterness of either vegetable.

The sauce was very tasty, and later both figured it was made with Douchi (fermented and salted soybeans). Lesson learned: Bitter Mellon is one of the most bitter vegetables known. And bitter it was. Farofa was happy to have ordered this to learn this lesson.

French Fries prepared some Japanese green tea (Genmai Cha) made of rice to go along with the meal, which proved a perfect combo, soothing the bitterness and pleasing the palate. Overall, F&FF are not sure they will go back to Hello Cafe when there are so many Chinese/Vietnamese options to explore in Philadelphia, but they now know what to expect when a dish with "Bitter" in the title.

Farofa: *** out of 5
French Fries: **1/2 out of 5

Forks Down Verdict: Fast service and good serving size for late weekend munchies.

Hello Cafe
600 Washington Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19147

(215) 467-7008
Everyday, 11:00am - Midnight

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