May Flower Restaurant
Jiuzhou Avenue, Jida District
Zhuhai, Guangdong, China
Tel : 881 44 1889 7423
Recently, one of the movies in the X-Men trilogy was broadcast on local television. It reminded me of that age-old question that seems to pop up whenever a superhero-action movie is played. If you could be blessed with super human powers of any kind, what would you want it to be? To make matters slightly more interesting, let’s see how that might tie into food or eating out.
For me, if I had the choice, I’d really just go for a basic Superman package.
Being able to fly super fast where and whenever I wanted, is all I would really desire. Perhaps its from my many years of tedious air flights to international destinations that makes me wish I had my own personal form of ultra quick, long distance transportation. If I felt like having Italian food, I could jet over to Rome in minutes and not have to head over to the nearest restaurant facsimile here in Canada. Fresh sushi? No problem. In minutes I could be back at my favorite Ginza sushi bar.
Could you imagine the possibilities? Dining out would be taken to an entirely different level.
But being as I don’t hold such abilities of lightning fast flight, I had to make due with regular modes of transport on a day’s journey that took me through three border checkpoints and resulted in a total of six immigration stamps and one visa applied for. Beginning in Hong Kong, we took a TurboJET across water to the port of Macau, spent a few hours exploring around, walked across to a land border station to enter mainland China, shopped and ate, walked back across to Macau, and then the speed boat back to Hong Kong.
A lot to do for a single meal don’t you think? Now you know where my super power preference comes from…
My Hong Kong-residing friends kept telling me that if I wanted large quantities of fantastic seafood for absurdly cheap prices, then we needed to go to the mainland. They said it would save us a bundle and we could see other sights as well. Me, not being a hard sell, jumped at their idea and off we went. Their suggestion, the May Flower Restaurant was apparently well known, but finding it, that was another challenge. Trying to navigate around a strange town in China after the sun had set is something that I will not attempt ever again.
For after a nightmarish taxi ride which felt like I was in the midst of a video game with all the swerving and ignoring of traffic lanes and even lights(!), and getting ripped off on the change (the sneaky driver folded two bills to make it look like four notes – hey, I know its a small piece of change but its the principal, or rather lack there of from the Chinese driver, that really got my Hong Kong friend’s ire), we made it to the district area where the restaurant is. The strange presence of an actual airplane in the parking lot threw me for a loop, but then I realized we were so close to Macau, which is trying to copy the tackiness of Las Vegas, so perhaps it was not entirely out of the question.
Soon enough, the sight of large tanks of fish and other underwater creatures calmed down our mate after we were seated and instructed to go check out what was available. Other than in Thailand, I’ve never had the opportunity to go and select what I wanted to eat myself, and so I loved they had this system here. With all the choices though, it made for an interesting dilemma, but my eyes immediately locked onto the lobsters. If you’re the type who prefers straight ordering of a menu, then you might be out of your element here.
This unfortunate pair that were huddle in the corner together, as if to avoid my gaze, were the innocent victims that I instructed our waiter to pluck out of the pool and serve to me. A little Lost in Translation took place as I was offered to select from a few styles of preparation, but I was able to finally persuade the man to see if the kitchen could just steam them. I wanted to avoid anything like a heavy sauce that would totally mask the flavor of the meat.
This is what eventually came out, a little too “perfumed up” for my liking with the base sauce in the plate adding a distinct scent, and was contrary to my instructions of asking for a bare-bone treatment. But alas, it was not a total loss as the meat was succulent and rich with that definitive flavor that these crustaceans possess. As guilty as I felt for ordering these two to their untimely demise, I knew in the end that they had found a well appreciated home in my belly.
A platter of boiled shrimp with soy-based dipping sauces was the choice of my Hong Kong pal. De-shelling these tasty morsels was a bit of a hassle but they were so fresh and juicy that they were soon polished off. It was interesting netting these guys out of their tank, and probably the most combative opponent we had among our selections.
Crab claws stir-fried with assorted vegetables. I can’t say I enjoyed this dish as much as the others, just based on my personal preference for allowing the seafood ingredients to take centre stage, rather than the sauce in which it is cooked.
Steamed fish, provided its incredibly fresh, is always one of my favorite things to order in a seafood-specialty restaurant. The simplicity of it all just appeals to me. With a light soy/ginger-based broth giving it some added punch, the delicate white meat just fell from the bone structure without any deliberate picking.
And lastly, a bowl of chicken feet. I must explain. Ordering this is a running gag with my friend and me. He knows I’ve never had it, and can’t stand the sight of it. But nonetheless, he reveals in getting this brought to our table whenever I am in Hong Kong. Oh, the comedy!
Through the course of this day, traveling through border crossings as if they were just neighborhoods in my own city, I learned one thing. There is never a barrier to finding great fresh food is you are willing to seek it out. You don’t need super powers to accomplish this, but just a mad crazy, change cheating Chinese cab driver to drop you off at the door.