Rating: 10 / 10
It's too easy to draw comparisons to Wong Kar Wai when you step into Mido Cafe. Based on proximity alone, it wasn't too far from where Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung flung their tailored clothes around in nostalgic epochs. However, the past always seems more vivid than reality, and spending time lost in these dizzying rooms makes you pine for the intangible.
Each tile holds secrets once spoken in Cambodian ruins; staircases lead upwards to the impossible arcadia.
Between teaching stints in Taiwan and translation jobs in Hong Kong, I frequented Mido. Amidst my torrid discovery of Hong Kong cinema, shuttling back and forth between Tai Wai and Mongkok to buy new DVD's by Fruit Chan, Wong Kar Wai and any other new director worth their weight in MSG, Mido Cafe would often be my stop on my way to or fro my hunts. Ordering a Hong Kong style milk tea, finding a table alone by the shuttered windows, and staring down at the endless marching shadowplay beneath, it felt very much like a sanctuary, slightly out of obvious allignment with other attractions, just odd enough to keep out the rabble rousers, perfect for a curious soul.
Afternoons would be spent writing in journals or looking through photographs taken on my daily visits to new neighborhoods. I never interacted much with the staff because they prefered to get on with their jobs without unnatural banter. It suited me to a T.
Leaving Mido after an hour or two would invoke mortal fear as soon as the door was left behind and the regularity of Hong Kong's frenetic streetlife returned. Suddenly your back would be pushed to hurry up, or screamed out the way if you took a few seconds hesistating for bearings. The tranquility of the old cafe began to dissipate like perfumed vapour clinging to an old In The Mood For Love poster.
Dreams and memories were replaced by smog. The whirring fan swapped out for roaring engines.
The world stood still inside those doors. My greatest temptation in life was to stay inside and see which epoch I would walk out into when the clocks had run empty.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored in the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"