Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cake cuts, may you rest in peace (Hon Cafe)

Bag of "cake cuts"

So I haven't been writing very much lately. Sorry to disappoint the few of you who actually read this shiz, but I most likely won't be quitting my job just so I can accelerate heart disease and live penniless as a food blogger. Plus, I kinda like the whole 'free food' thing at work. Anyway, I know what most of you are thinking: "I don't need to hear your BS excuses, dance monkey! Dance!" Yeah yeah, I'm getting to the part where I shove food in my mouth and write about how it arouses, and then exits, me for your super great enjoyment. Okay, let me ask you something... have you ever had cake cuts? No? How does it feel to have never lived, loved, and experienced life to the fullest? I bet it sucks. Now you might be asking yourself "what the fuck are cake cuts? That just sounds straight dumb." Well, jokes on you - cake cuts are the single greatest thing that could ever happen to (and disappear from) Chinatown in the history of forevertown.

Growing up... one of my guiltiest pleasure foods were those Swiss roll cakes that Chinese bakeries make - beautiful 10" logs of nothing more than porous sponge cake spread with a delicately thin layer of some sort of cream. Mmm - dat cream. I could easily kill two or three of those things in a single sitting (have I mentioned I was fat) without any ill effects. Shameful? Yes. Delicious? Also yes. The fact that they were so deceptively light meant it felt okay shoving slice after slice after slice in my mouth as if I were Zeus and I was just slaying bitches left and right.

Double-sized cake cut

That's besides the point. The point? When you roll up a cake, the ends inevitably look like retarded nubbins of browned bits. Not very aesthetically pleasing. Once you cut that shit off though - boom - your cake looks straight sensual again. But what of those cake nubbins... what happens to them? Hon Cafe (now replaced by some ass-clown generic Chinese restaurant) used to do something magical. Each unfortunate looking orphan cake butt would be set aside and placed in a bag along with its fellow rejected brethren. They would then sell these gigantic bags of deformed Swiss rolls for $2. What a deal. "Shut up about your bag of dumb looking cakes!" you say? I can understand why you might not entirely appreciate how spectacular a bag of cake is, and all I can say to that is... eat a dick. A whole bag of them. You don't understand what it's like to have something so special, so sensual, taken from you shortly after discovery. Some things in life. They are not fair.

Hon Cafe menu

Hon Cafe wasn't a one trick pony though - not that they really needed to be good at anything aside from collecting rejected cake cuts and selling them to me at drug deal prices - they were actually a full fledged restaurant, that did other things moderately well too.

Beef chow fun (乾炒牛和)

They do all the standard HK diner type dishes, including a savory guilty pleasure of mine... 乾炒牛和 a.k.a. beef chow fun. Look at that shit. By shit I mean oil. This motherfucker is so greasy I can see my reflection in the noodles, which is the only way I want to eat chow fun. Now I've explained this dish so many times already that I've lost count, but it's worth reiterating. The complexity of this dish is non-existent. You stir-fry marinated beef, onions, bean sprouts, and rice noodles together in a wok over a giant fire, you coat that shit with more oil than the Exxon Valdez, and boom - the combination of high heat, integration of fat, and the Maillard reaction happen. Non-enzymatic browning of carbohydrates. Tell me that phrase doesn't turn you on in the least. No? You're a goddamn liar. Science is sexy.

Garlic cheeseburger

Rice noodles don't get you all greased up and hot and bothered? That's chill. Hon Cafe also made one of my favorite 'burgers.' I put quotes around burgers because I'm sure some dickweed will call me out on it not being a true 'All-American beef burger with lettuce cheese and tomatoes.' It's true, the Hon Cafe cheeseburger isn't that... instead, it's a wonderful concoction built on a light seeded bun (which is kinda a bummer since they used to use a spongy white Chinese bun thing baked in house which was delicious in its own right) that has a patty concoction formed by a mix of beef, pork, sweet soy, garlic, and onions - which gave it a sweet garlic-laden aftertaste that can only be described as similar to a five-spice meatloaf. Marry that to a slice of American cheese and a layer of lettuce and tomato and you get a non-generic 'burger' that I don't think will be replicated by any other restaurant anytime soon. This is honestly one of those cases in which the subtle differences overcome the simplicity and generic nature of a food. Short story, it is dope. It tastes like China.

What's the point of this post? What are the five stages of emotions you deal with after trauma? Denial, check. I saw the metal door down once and thought those peeps were straight chillin'. Gonna fuck up some more cakes to give me the next day. I was wrong. Anger, check. I was furious at myself for not going every day after work to pick up a bag of glorious cream cakes. Bargaining, maybe not this one. Depression, hell to the yes. Tears were shed. Does that make me less manly? Fuck you. I love cake. Acceptance? Yeah not yet. This post is supposed to be for me to vent. Hopefully I can come to terms that something I had fallen so hard for (so fast) is gone forever. I know that feel bro.

tl;dr - Hon Cafe, you were the shit. You made my life infinitely better by collecting orphan cake rejects and selling them for well below market-value. While most people probably didn't see them for their worth because they were unfortunate looking, I knew that each and every one of them was special. Special enough to be shoved in my mouth rapidly. Also, you made really good beef chow fun and a weirdly sugary burger. I miss you. Goodnight... sweet prince. You were a gargantuan amongst men. By which I mean bakeries.

Hon Cafe (closed)
70 Mott St, New York, NY 10013