Words by Tara Pepper
On a recent Saturday night, Bobby and I decided to go out for dinner and try something more casual than our norm: Eddie’s Wok ’n’ Roll Hakka Chinese and Thai restaurant. I should say right up front that I’m not a Hakka expert nor did I know what to expect, but you know me—I’m always willing to try something new. Hakka cuisine originated in the southeastern Chinese provinces of Guangdong and Fujian, but here in Mississauga it seems to be a blend of Indian/Chinese flavours. I was up for the experiment!
When we arrived, the restaurant was bustling, but we were quickly seated at a table and presented with menus. I have to admit it was a bit overwhelming—the menus listed names of dishes but no descriptions to speak of except for the “specialties” section, and our server seemed to be in a hurry to leave our table.
Bobby and I decided that we’d order things that sounded different, though I was a bit concerned because there was no indication of the heat level of the dishes and I figured Hakka would be spicy hot. We’d just have to wait and see.
Bobby decided on a chicken and shrimp hot and sour soup ($5) for his starter and I chose a shrimp spring roll ($1.50). We had to ask if there was a drink list, and when we did our server seemed shaken: he said he was under 19 and couldn’t talk to us about liquor, and did we want him to send someone else? I had to laugh and said yes, please.
When I asked the new server for the wine list, they said they had a white (“A Chardonnay, I think.”) and a red (“A Merlot, I think”). Hmm. Probably better to have beer. We opted for an Indian Kingfisher beer, which I’ve had before and turned out to be a very good pairing with our food.
Back to the appetizers. Bobby’s soup was different than the Thai version he’s used to, but it was very good and tasty nonetheless. It was full of shrimp, chicken, tofu, cilantro and mushrooms, and had a nicely flavoured and slightly glutinous broth that coated the tongue with a touch of heat. My spring roll consisted of a large shrimp wrapped in wonton and fried. The shrimp itself was very tasty but I didn’t bother with the plastic package of plum sauce (you know, the one you get with take-out). Instead, I tried the red chili sauce on the table, but found it to be all heat with no flavour.
For our mains, we tried things that sounded interesting. We ordered chili chicken ($11), Manchurian beef ($11.50), tiger prawns with lobster sauce ($13), butter masala chicken ($13) and finally the house chow mein ($10). The dishes came out of the kitchen separately, so we had the chance to try each one as they were placed on the table—I liked that.
The chili chicken included large pieces of breaded chicken with onions and chili peppers and a ginger, garlic and soy sauce. The Manchurian beef came with tender pieces of thinly sliced, good quality, flavourful beef, with onions and again the garlic/ginger/soy sauce. I know that they were different, but the flavours melded together for me.
The house chow mein was served with chicken, shrimp, vegetables and Chinese noodles. It had a very distinctive soy-based sauce and I think I detected a hint of fish sauce in the mix. I thoroughly enjoyed the tiger prawns with lobster sauce. The large prawns were battered and fried and served with pieces of chicken in a silky sauce. Although there weren’t any pieces of lobster in the sauce, the flavour of the dish was quite good.
My favourite of all the dishes was the butter masala chicken. It was delicious! Buttery and slightly spicy with a strong tomato flavour, it was exactly what a butter chicken dish should be. Each of the mains came with a bowl of steamed white rice. We had lots of leftovers to package up and take home!
I’m sorry, dear readers, but we didn’t have dessert. Unfortunately, the bill was brought before we were offered any and at that point we decided that we had eaten enough anyway. Next time, I think I’ll ask for suggestions as to what to order for a true Hakka experience, or maybe try the Thai dishes that were on the menu.
Don’t be afraid to try something new—it can be a very interesting experience!
Check out my weekly blog, Tara’s Tales and Tastings, on www.mississaugalife.ca. It’s published every Monday and contains articles about food, events, recipes and even the occasional rant when the mood strikes!
Eddie’s Wok ’n’ Roll
6400 Millcreek Dr.