Monday, February 22, 2010

An American in Hong Kong

There are certain restaurants that I will never outgrow.

Oftentimes, it’s because of timeless flavors- just good, dependable food that satisfies every single time. Some places I love because of its proximity to where I live or work. While there are a select few I enjoy visiting over and over simply because of the fond memories I have associated with those restos and their food.

Dan Ryan’s Chicago Grill in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon is one place that I keep going back to for all those reasons. The food here is typical American, with most menu items you would easily find in other restaurant chains like Ruby Tuesday’s or Chili’s. But, what I love about this place is that the quality never wavers and, every time I come to visit, it’s the same good American fare. Our favorite hotel is also right behind it (Note: we did not stay there this time, since we wanted to try out this new boutique hotel on Kimberley Road), so it is very convenient for us to pop in for a drink or a late dinner. And, after all those trips to Hong Kong with my family, it just holds a permanent spot in my heart (and palate).

Matt and I went to Hong Kong for a quick vacation a couple of weeks ago to enjoy the nice cool weather and do the usual stuff. Since its Matt’s first time in this cosmopolitan city, I was eager to show him around and familiarize him with our old haunts. I knew that we were going to OD on Cantonese food while we were there, so in order to ease him into the local food scene gently, I thought I would bring him to Dan Ryan’s first for a late lunch. My dad already told him stories of his “me” time sipping beer at the bar, so Matt wanted to see one of our favorite spots.

The cozy, tavern-like interior has not changed since I started going there, and I really don’t mind. It has a warm, lived-in feel that I enjoy being around. The bar near the door has a partial view of the harbor, and the booths inside are comfortable and covered in clean white linens.

Since it was just me and Matt, I restrained myself from ordering the huge Appetizer Combo (onion rings, Buffalo wings and potato skins) that my sisters and I love. We just decided to share a small Caesar Salad which was actually big enough for the two of us to start our meal with.

Matt- who is frustrated by the lack of beef hotdogs in Manila- is always excited to see when beef hotdogs are on the menu. He opted for the classic Chicago Dog, which is an all-beef hotdog in a soft bun topped with fresh onions, pickle relish and tomatoes, accompanied by a small bowl of chili and coleslaw.

Famished, I decided to go all-out and went for a half slab of the Baby Back Ribs with a side of fries and coleslaw. In my opinion, this is one of the very few restaurants outside the US who can do this dish right. A lot of the American chains in Manila serve baby back ribs, but for some reason they’re mostly bland and dry. Dan Ryan’s ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, moist and perfectly smoky and tasty. The sauce has a wonderful balance of mildly sweet and savory, with the deep and musky aromas of spices and dried peppers. Not nearly as good as the best baby back ribs I have tasted, but this one is more than decent.

I would have loved to keep coming back to this restaurant during our trip, but I had to control myself in order to make room for the many others that we wanted to try. Aside from the good food, it just brings me back to simpler times- when my sisters, cousins and I would trek down the long corridor of Ocean Terminal with our grandparents to Toys ‘R Us; Walking to Tony Mak’s electronics store with my dad to buy our first Nintendo console; and, after a long day of shopping, just huddling in our hotel room with my sisters and cousin, Tons, to eat Sweet and Sour Pork, Cream of Mushroom Soup and Fresh Strawberries with Whipped Cream while we ordered movies from the hotel’s pay-per-view. Those were truly one of the best times, and its wonderful how food can somehow help you remember.

Dan Ryan’s Chicago Grill
3/F Ocean Terminal
Harbour City
Kowloon, Hong KongTel. no. (852)27356111


Noel said...

When in HK with my usual group, the guys usually hang out at Dan Ryan's while the girls shop in Pacific. I remember once, after a huge lunch at ZEN below, the guys went up to wait at Dan Ryan's as the ladies sallied forth.

I mentioned to one of my friends that I enjoyed having a few Fosters with DR's Oyster Shots, but order only 2 or 2 of the latter just "to be safe". Well, my friend ordered around 6 of them and downed a few beers (this fellow doesn't really drink beer - and this was after a big lunch).

The results were neither pretty nor fragrant. I am glad we were in different hotels.

Chinkee said...

Noel- Wahahaha! Kindly point out this friend to me when you get the chance. At least I would be able to keep a safe distance, just in case he lets one loose.

Dan Ryan's is so much fun! I remember watching the World Series (that year when the Red Sox beat the Yankees for the first time after so long) at the Pacific Place branch. When the Red Sox finally won, this fan lept from his stool and did a lap around the mall, sceaming like a lunatic. Good times:-)

sanjeeb Gopaldas said...

I enjoyed this post very much, as I too have fond memories of HK growing up. Reading this, brought back my own memories. This is truly what great writing is all about.

Great post Chinkee!!!

Chinkee said...

Hi Sanj! Thank you so much for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed reading this post. More to come on our HK trip:-)