I was meeting a friend for lunch at Tsukushinbo last Wednesday, and after waiting outside the door with 10 other people for a while, we finally called the restaurant's phone number, only to find that the owners had decided not to open until dinner. So we headed down the hill and stopped at the newish Pacific Cafe. The cafe specializes in cha chaan teng, or Western-Eastern-fusion teahouse food, currently (and to my mind, inexplicably) the biggest food fad in the International District.
What better Hong Kong classic to order than Singapore-style rice noodles? They're not really Singaporean, to be truthful, though they're based on Chinese-Singaporean hokkien mee. The original are made with a completely different noodle and without the distinctive addition of curry powder. (In Malaysia, "Singapore rice noodles" are stir-fried with ketchup and chiles.)
Pacific Cafe's version was pretty decent, if not the best version I've ever had -- it's a rare restaurant that can stir-fry rice vermicelli (mee fun) without breaking up the hair-thin noodles into a squiggly mass, and these came tossed with juicy shrimp, little pork bits, onions, scallions, and slivers of red bell peppers.
Faux-Singaporian rice noodles are one of the more banal cross-cultural dishes at Pacific Cafe. The menu is filled with cha chaan teng favorites like baked pork over rice, chicken with creamed corn sauce, and steak with spicy garlic sauce, and every meal starts with a tomato-vegetable soup. To go with the curry nooodles, I ordered crispy noodles with beef and tomatoes, skinny wheat noodles that were pan-fried until they crisped up, then tossed with beef and fresh tomatoes in a sugary ketchup glaze. Like most cha chaan teng fare, the noodles tasted straight out of the 1981 Betty Crocker's Chinese Cookbook.