Weekend mornings at this Hacienda Heights shopping center see a group of people standing near one particular door, with others seated in a couple of rows of plastic chairs. The crowds are there for a Hong Kong–style breakfast at the recently opened, eastern branch of Delicious Food Corner.
DFC first opened in a fairly small space in Monterey Park and was so overwhelmed that it has since expanded twice. There’s no shortage of HK-style cafés around the San Gabriel Valley, even in the eastern portion. Yet there everyone is, waiting up to a half-hour for a morning meal at what Jonathan Gold described as “the most Hong Kong place in the San Gabriel Valley.”
Not that he needs our validation but he’s absolutely right. There’s something more intrinsically Hong Kong about DFC than its many counterparts. It’s not the many wall-mounted flatscreen TVs tuned to Hong Kong channels showing dramas, dining, cooking or talk shows that sets it apart from the rest. Perhaps you’ll catch the latest episode of The Exorcist’s Meter, a dramedy about a graveyard-shift cab driver battling evil spirits.
It’s also not the loud, bustling dining room, or the menu that doesn’t vary much from other HK cafés. What is it then? It’s the breakfast specials, or more specifically, the congee, or rice porridge. While congee is easily found at many places, there’s something almost epochal about it at DFC.
This congee isn’t the super-refined type one might find at the high-end seafood restaurants or a place like Huo Zhou Wang. It is simply a hearty comfort food. If you’re fortunate enough to get in before the 11:30 a.m. cutoff, a good-sized bowl comes with the choice of fried egg noodles or steamed rice flour noodle rolls, the latter of which can be plain or with dried shrimp.
The congee is served with diced scallions and some slivers of ginger and topped with a few bits of fried dough. There are 16 variations, including chicken, either boneless or bone-in, fish fillet and various pork and pig bit versions, one of which is the classic combo of pork and preserved egg. The portion feeds two easily.
There’s more, of course. It can’t be a Hong Kong place without the omnipresent bun, listed at Delicious Food Corner as “H.K. Style Bun With Butter.” It's also known as the pineapple, or bolo, bun, so named for its resemblance to the fruit, not the flavor. It’s a rich, buttery pastry served with large pats of butter between its halves. There’s also you tiao, sometimes called the Chinese doughnut, the sticks of unsweetened fried dough available either on their own or inside a rice flour noodle roll. Other variations of the rolls have beef, pork or shrimp.
If you’re not in a congee mood, there are other breakfast specials, including those featuring an egg with ham, sausage or Spam, served with macaroni in soup and either coffee or tea. And, being an HK-style café, the menu is quite large, giving plenty of other options of non-specials. Just be prepared to wait.
17170 Colima Road, Hacienda Heights; (626) 810-8822, deliciousfoodcorner.com.