Cho Express, Hurstville
In the Sydney suburbs, I had never expected to find several retail outlets around a train station, but I did at Hurstville, south of Sydney CBD. There were supermarkets, bakeries, noodle outlets, herbal medicine shops and more. What caught my attention was the constant queue at a small take away cookery, a branch of Cho Express. The service was methodical but fast. Staff mostly spoke in Mandarin, but they had big display photos to make it easy to order. Most dishes available were under Aud10 each, and what was also interesting were the various combinations of salads, some pickled, mostly cut in thin slices, one with mayonnaise, some with tofu and many with chilis. (picture above) Marta and I ordered savoury dishes to take back to Wollongong - I could not resist the stewed pork and prawns with onions, whilst Marta had seaweed salad and sweet potato balls. I also noted that the staff mentioned to us how long it took, in minutes, to deliver our food orders.
Taiwanese food is a blend of Fujian, Hakka, other mainland Chinese provincial, Japanese, Dutch and indigenous inspirations. Dumplings, mushrooms, milk fish, pork balls, Taichung sun cakes with a molasses filling in side, thin noodles like mi-suah, oyster omelettes and hard boiled eggs stewed in soy sauce are some of the well known dishes from this island.
The wave of popular desserts from Taiwan - with themes of milk, glutinous rice dough balls and various types of teas and fruits - was also found in a back lane of Hurstville near the rail station. Called the Espresso Lane Cafe, it uniquely also offered Australian mainstream cafe dishes like big breakfasts, burgers and toasts. We ordered the tofu pudding in syrup and the beans (red and green) boiled in milk (image below). Servings were huge, and I noticed the mainly Taiwanese crowd enjoying the savoury dishes.
Unplanned and unanticipated, it had been almost 24 hours immersing in Taiwanese things and stuff. The evening before I had viewed the 2010 movie, Au Revoir Taipei, a delightful piece from director Arvin Chen,that reminds us that, at times, the true and important things in life have been right in front of us all along, whilst we had dreamed of hopes overseas and far away. Jack Yao puts up a convincing appearance as the main character Kai, who is lovesick and wants to be reunited with his girl in Paris, but somehow finds himself involved with street gangsters, noodles and a book shop girl named Peach.