Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The New but Familiar One

I know what some of you might be thinking… Cheesecake Factory, really? Yeah, there’s really nothing much to blog about the food at this mainstream restaurant chain except the wide selection of delicious cheesecakes and a few other dishes, but the place always has a special place in our hearts. (I know that’s the cheesy way to put it – pun intended) So we were excited that the restaurant finally made its way to this side of the coast with its first outlet right in the heart of Hong Kong inside Harbour City TST.

Hearing about the havoc at their first weekend of opening when people have to wait for three hours to get their table, we held off our excitement and decided to wait until the second week and tried our luck on a weeknight. Turned out the wait was much more manageable than what others described, and we were seated with less than an hour's wait. (In all fairness we did arrive slightly early to beat the normal dinner crowd)

It’s been almost a decade since my last visit to the restaurant, but this new branch in Hong Kong did resemble those we frequented in the States, with a similar layout, lighting and even the menu. It might be smaller than some but probably similar to those located in shopping malls. Behind the reception was the bar area with high chairs and tables, and on the side was the takeout counter with all the cheesecakes on display in the refrigerator unit. They seated us at the far end of the restaurant which was cozy and comfortable.

We flipped through the familiar booklet of menu (with over 200 dishes to offer, as we were told). I couldn’t tell for sure whether they are the exact replica of what they offered in the original branches, but all our old-time favorites were there, much to our relief. We had to keep reminding ourselves of the enormous portion the restaurant was known for, and just picked a few dishes to share.

Outside of their signature cheesecakes, the sweet corn tamale cakes were our all-time favorite. If I need to pick one vegetarian dish that I can live with, that would be on top of my list. Basically it’s like a savory cornbread with plenty of tomato salsa, salsa verde, spicy mayo and diced avocado spread on top completed with a dollop of sour cream. This is ridiculously delicious and definitely something unique. For us, the portion was big enough to share among us two, but I can imagine for others this easily fed 4-6 as appetizers.

We shared a plate of cajun jambalaya pasta as our main course. As expected, it came in crazy size and in fact, two of us could hardly finish half and we need to pack home the rest. Again, this is not the best pasta dish in the world, but on par with what I expected in terms of taste, with bunch of Cajun spices mixed with tomatoes, peppers and onions with chunks of chicken and shrimps and served on top of a bed of spinach and regular spaghetti. I could live with more sauce, a bit less heavy on the spices and more toss to the pasta (they sorta stuck together) but this was good for nostalgia’s sake – those growing up having Cajun food at shopping mall food hall could probably relate better to that.

Tempted with ordering one cheesecake each as our desserts, we came to face the reality and just picked one to share - there's no way we could finish two. This time we went for the caramel pecan turtle cheesecake, which came with a pecan-brownie crust and topped with fudge, caramel swirl and chocolate fudge. I did regret not ordering the a la mode option with it, but we were happy with that familiar bite of this classic cheesecake, which remained our firm favorite, even after many other fancy cakes and desserts that we came across all these years.

Welcome to Hong Kong, Cheesecake Factory! We have been waiting for so long... and this is certainly a milestone moment for our sweet teeth and worth every minute of the wait.

When? May 11 2017
Where? Cheesecake Factory Hong Kong, Shop G102, G/F, Harbour City, Gateway Arcade, 25 Canton Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui
Menu Highlights? Sweet Corn Tamale Cake, Caramel Pecan Turtle Cheesecake

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