Posts tagged “friendly

40 Gough – not quite Lot 10

Review:

I’ve known that 40 Gough in NoHo has been super popular for lunch for years now, but haven’t been for ages.  As I had such a good lunch at Lot 10 across the street a couple of weeks ago I thought I’d do a compare and contrast, so went for lunch at 40 a couple of days ago.

Food: Hmm. Really just a bit crap (gosh I’m all eloquence today!).

To start, I had a papaya salad which was half a ripe papaya with the seeds removed with some slightly over-done dressed prawns within. It was as odd as it sounds:  ripe papaya doesn’t really work in a salad, especially when it’s not dressed in anyway nor cut into morsels you can eat with the other salad ingredients. Clumsy.

My companion had a Caesar salad which consisted of  maybe two ripped up Romaine leaves, a slosh of dressing which had hardly brushed up against an anchovy and a couple of filings of parmesan, all spread out in a single layer on a dinner plate. Clumsy.

For his main, my dining partner had a rack of lamb which was underdone and over-salted, and I had a half-raw, half spring chicken.  So, clumsy and potentially dangerous.

The accompaniment on the side of the plate was a splodge of garlic mash with one broccoli and one cauliflower floret wedged therein, and four whole, cooked, unseasoned cherry tomatoes placed on top, (which just weed juice onto your plate and didn’t go with the rest of the veggies). V strange, and definitely clumsy, and lazy as each main course had the same accompaniment.

(There is also an odd twist that they serve you slices of garlic bread before you begin – bit baffling).

Ambience: You can’t fault the decor, location. It’s clean, white and smart. It’s small but they don’t ram the tables in and there are a few outside.  It’s a great spot.

Service: Service was fine. Friendly and couteous.

Price: Set lunch price varies with the main course you choose, but ranges from $118 to about $140 I think, so it’s not expensive.

Location: Opposite Lot 10 on the corner of Gough St and Shing Hing Terrace.  Lovely location, quiet, off street, and once again you are always entertained by the shuttlecock guys who seem to play every lunch time. Tel 2851 8498. 40 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong.

I can only imagine that Gough 40 is so busy for lunch because of the location. Lot 10 opposite is (surprisingly) cheaper and the food is streets ahead, (although maybe 40 has to be more expensive at lunchtime because it certainly struggles for dinner custom). I was definitely underwhelmed and although I was impressed with the service and ambience, the food is just too poor for a return trip.

I was going to class this Mama/Huhu but can’t because of the food. The main point of a restaurant is to serve decent food, not to look nice and have good service, so Caustic it is I’m afraid.

Thai Farmers’ Restaurant – Wanchai

Reivew:

There were four of us for supper last night in Wanchai, and we fancied showing our new friends the delights of Thai Hut.

As previously explained, there are only a tiny number of seats there since the Po-leece stopped them from setting up tables outside, so you do take your chances.  Unfortunately, last night  we were unlucky, as there was an old gweilo dude slumped on a stool taking up 3 precious seats, chin on chest, snoring drunkenly away (it was only 11pm), so we had to find an alternative.

That’s how we ended up at Thai Farmers’ restaurant across the way on Lockhart Road, sandwiched between The Bell Inn (which seems to have become the pub of the moment for all the International School kids) and some low dive strip-joint.

Food: All the usual Thai staples. Large menu, pretty much as home-style as Thai Hut. Everything we had was very tasty, although not quite as punch-your-lights-out hot as Thai’s usually like for themselves.  Portions were very generous, and the dips they provided with the pork neck and spring rolls were really good, as were those items themselves.

Drinks:  Standard drinks list for Wanchai – beer, canned softs, a few juices. Cheap and cheerful.

Ambience:  Very simple. Love the bold tablecloths. It’s a little shoebox of a place with seating for not more than 30, clean and simple, if a little rough around the edges.  The only others in the restaurant were a Thai couple, one of whom was a decidedly pre-op lady-boy, in desperate need of a stylist.

Service:  The food came quick, and the staff were friendly and attentive.

Price: We spent just over $400 for four of us, and we were only drinking soft drinks.  We had 6 dishes plus rice. So, really rather good value!

Location: G/F King Tao Building 98 Lockhart Road Wanchai Hong Kong. Tel 2520 6607. Almost opposite Agave.

I hadn’t been to this restaurant for years, and was really wondering why after this meal. Chili Club, which is actually almost upstairs from this place, and  seems to be so popular still after all these years, despite having zero ambience and mass produced tasting fare is a poor second to Thai Farmers’. This little restaurant has more authentic food, a more intimate atmosphere and is great value for money.

“The Turkish” – homestyling in Mui Wo, Lantau.

Review:

Went to The Turkish a couple of nights ago (real name Bahce Turkish).  No idea why I don’t go there more often, as it serves seriously good food.

Food:  Well….it’s Turkish.  Very home cooking feel, well presented. Fresh ingredients, with the impression  that everything is lovingly prepared.  All the dips and sauces are fresh made, and they roll dolmas neater than Cheech rolls joints.

Very tasty marinated lamb and chicken, and the special eggplant dip is so smoky and sweet you won’t want to eat normal baba ghanoush ever again. The haloumi was great as well.  Not squeaky and hard, but served with gerkins and dill, it was really good.

Drinks: wide selection of fresh teas, coffee and soft drinks. Couple of beers on tap and the rest in bottles.

Ambience: Simple, sturdy, and has tables outside which is a boon.  Emphasis is on food not decor, and you’d be nuts to spend a bunch of cash on that kind of thing in Lantau, as you will never make your money back.

Service:  lovely service. Humble, friendly, efficient and thoughtful (shame they don’t take over the Stoep!)

Price: Dinner  was $350 for two, and they don’t charge service, so it was a pleasure to leave a big tip.  We shared a mixed mezze, a separate halloumi dish and a lamb kebab, and it that was far and away enough between two of us.  Good value for the quality of the food and the service.

Location: Mui Wo Centre, Lantau Island. Tel: +852 2984 0221, very close to the 7/11 opposite the bus station.

By far the best restaurant in Mui Wo.  There are a couple of tasty canto places, but they don’t show as much care and attention to their food as this.

Mrs Jones, Central – a bit mama/huhu

Review:

Popped along for lunch at the new Mrs Jones restaurant at the top of Pottinger St a few days ago.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Concept Creations venues so far as their service has generally been really good and friendly. However, I have to say that lunch was a bit horsey horsey tiger tiger and that’s forced me to invent a new category on my blog, (hit and miss to the those not in on the Mando reference).

Food: Italian. My companion and I opted for a 3 course set lunch.

We both had salads to begin with, which were let down by the overcooked mush of carrots, and an indifferent mix of leaves and Parma ham.

My pasta main was disappointing, primarily because it was bog-standard bought pasta – literally the farfalle I buy down at the supermarket.

Now, I think that’s a bit of a cop out. Fresh pasta using organic flour would be cheaper to make than buying mass produced dried stuff, and definitely less expensive than some of the very good quality dried pastas, and is super easy to make – so why serve your customers the boring bought stuff, when you can make a selling point out of having fresh, organic pasta instead?

My companion’s main course on the other hand was very tasty – Chicken with olive mash and a creamy mushroom sauce.

What absolutely saved my meal though was the stunning lime curd tart for dessert.  Fresh from the oven. This was a stroke of genius.

Perfect light pastry, a warm delicately textured and flavoured lime filling and a really good vanilla custard creme on the side that was a great accompaniment. No holding back here – it was superb.

Drinks: Didn’t have a look at the wine list, so can’t comment on that.

Ambience: This venue has always been a nice space, the decor is warm and inviting, and the seats comfortable.  It is however a bit rough around the edges.

There is paint peeling off the walls at the entrance for example, and that just confuses me – is this a new restaurant, or are they just using the space to see if this concept works before redecorating? I don’t know, but again this makes me think they have a bit of a lackadaisical attitude to this venture.

Service: The service was very friendly and attentive, although the restaurant was not busy – if it had been, then the one waiter may have been overstretched.

Cost: $98 for a three course set lunch in Central is good value.

Location: Entrance is at the top of Pottinger Street just down from Wyndham St, where Soda used to be. Upper Basement, Harilela House, 79 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: 25228118

Overall, I consider the glitches I encountered as teething problems and would definitely go back for lunch in a few weeks time.

Between the two of us, exactly half the dishes were definite misses and half were definite hits, so it would be churlish to not give them another go.

However, at the moment my vote of Caustic or Candy is to be withheld, and instead I must create a new category – mama/huhu.

马马虎虎 – ma ma hu hu; (Horsey Horsey Tiger Tiger) definition is so-so, hit and miss, passable, careless.


Cecconi’s, Mayfair – mullets, gout, pearls and Birkins

Review:

The three things I like most about Cecconi’s are the jade green leather chairs, their rabbit ragu, and sitting at their bar drinking Proseco on tap.

Cecconis

As I mostly stay in Mayfair when I’m in London, Cecconi’s is always on the list for lunch. (The Wolseley is for breakfast/brunch, Cecconi’s is for late lunch/post-shopping glass of vino), always somewhere else for dinner.

I’m not sure why I don’t think of Cecconi’s as somewhere I’d eat dinner, but it’s never even occurred to me to do it.

Since so many hedge funds have gone pop in London, I can only assume that it’s not quite so crowded for lunch, but I still prefer to go post-2pm so it’s a little less busy, and I know I don’t need to book ahead.

Food: Italian. They serve a very wide variety of dishes, breakfast through dinner. There’s something for everyone, and the ingredients are top notch.

They have a tapas bar that serves Venetian specialities all day, and the carpaccios are real good too.

When it’s cold outside nothing beats a bowl of their rich, gamey rabbit ragu, and I have to admit to usually asking for it with mash rather than pasta, and was pleased to find out the first time I asked that I am not alone in this rather Irish request.

Drinks: Their wine list has a strong bent towards Italy. There are near 20 wines/champagnes served by glass and 10 served by carafe which is very useful. Bottles of wine are all over £25, and as they are catering to the Hedgey crowd they do have a long and wide list.  My usual lunching companion also very much enjoys their Bloody Mary’s.

Ambience: Lunch is always packed, and it’s best to book ahead. There are generally two types of people who come here at this time – finance bods, and ladies who are shopping on Bond Street – so it’s a mixture of mullets, gout, pearls and Birkins.

My favourite place to perch is at the bar. A wonderful solid marble affair where you can chat to the staff, see them preparing the tapas and I just like the general sociability of it all.

Service: Waiters are very friendly and accommodating in my experience – not even a sniff when I ask for mash in an Italian restaurant.

We have received short shrift when we’ve turned up without a booking bang on lunchtime though. The receptionists can be a bit jaded when they are busy…

Cost: It’s Mayfair, and it’s part of the Soho House group, so it’s not cheap. We don’t usually get out with paying less than £50 for lunch for two, and that’s keeping it to a drink and a pasta. Easy to rack up the bill if you are there drinking and snacking for a couple of hours, as it just puts you in the mood to kick back and enjoy yourself.

Location: 5 Burlington Gardens, Mayfair. Tel: 0207 434 1500

San Xi Lou, Central. Lip tingling, tongue twanging Sichuan.

Review:

I am a stupid gweimui.

I used to go to a Sichuan restaurant in Causeway Bay, on the first floor of a building on the corner of Hennesey and Percival, but it didn’t have an English name. It was ludicrous hot, very reasonably priced, had monthly beer bucket specials and was just fun, fun, fun.

So, when it closed about two and a half years ago, I was at a bit of a loss. Filled with sadness, I started hunting for a replacement, and have never been totally satisfied with what I have found.

Yesterday, through the holy power of t’internet and Google translate, I discovered that said restaurant had reopened under a different name (and telephone number…*!$%!) in Mid-Levels.  Coda Plaza to be exact.  Two years ago it opened and two bloody years it took me to discover that. What a noddy!

The new restaurant is called San Xi Lou, (and the old one was called Man Jiang Hong), and such is my fondness for their old restaurant, that I went there straight away for supper, and I can tell you my little chickadees – I was not disappointed.

Food: Big menu, lots of quintessential Sichuan dishes, lots of chilli, lots of hot, lots of cold, good collection of soups too.

It starts off well when they bring you pickles (for free: Hunan Garden…) that can blow the top of your head off. Gets you right in da mood.

Stalwart of Sichuan dining, chicken with dry chilli and pepper (or stupid gweilo chicken as it’s more fondly known by me) San Xi Lou style, is a fully interactive experience.

You have to dig for those nuggets of chicken through mounds of dry chilli and sichuan pepper. Oo, the fights that have taken place to try and find the last bits of chicken, the satisfaction of gnawing round the bones, the sweetness of the cashew nuts and the freshness of the coriander. Just delicious. As soon as my lips began to tingle from the hua jiao, my mind was at peace – certain dishes evoke big, happy memories, and for me this is one of my favourite.

lip tingling, tongue twanging stuff
lip tingling, tongue twanging stuff

Let’s not get carried away though. This is not the most elegant Sichuan cuisine you can find in Hong Kong. It’s a bit greasy (well in fact some of the dishes are just huge buckets of produce stewed in oil), but I suppose it’s even more authentic because of this. I certainly haven’t come out of a Sichuan restaurant in Chengdu without a great, red, oily stain around my chops.

What it is though, is solid Sichuan – silly hot, tasty and fresh.

Drink: Decent selection of beer, lots of good teas (we had a very delicate ginseng oolong yesterday), the usual soft drinks and juices (although no drinking yoghurt to calm the stomach), and a selection of wines – still can’t wrap my head around the idea of red and white wine with spicy, super robust flavours. I think the only wine that might possibly go with Sichuan is a good biscuity Champagne (but then I might have to wear my sunglasses at the table just to complete the ludicrous visual of that idea…)

Service: Efficient, friendly – good service. The level of English varies by waiter, so for non-Canto or Mando speakers double check your order.

Ambience: Understated. Brown and earthy shades – lots of carved wooden panels, straight backed, wooden chairs (but with cushions) and booths. Nothing slick or fashionable. Thick carpet, so the noise is dampened.  It was busy and there was a real mix of Hongkees, Mandarin speakers and gweilos.

Price: We paid HK$450 for two, including tea and beer, which we thought was good value. The food was very tasty, the portions large, the service efficient, and the surroundings comfortable.

Location: 7th Floor, Coda Plaza, 51 Garden Road, Central. Tel: 2838 8811

Open: 11am-11pm every day (they also do dim sum lunch and hot pot. Last orders at 10pm)

So there you have it – if you need a break from Madame Wong’s operatics at Da Ping Huo (I love the food, but I go less than I want to because a couple of her notes made my ears bleed) then San Xi Lou is a really good option.

And who needs more than two Sichuan restaurants in Hong Kong? One is elegant and sophisticated in both cuisine and decor, the other is robust and unpretentious.

That’s Sichuans sorted then.

UPDATE:

Took some first time visitors to HK to San Xi Lou last week (28th Dec 09)and they loved it.  They really like spicy food but had never had Sichuan before, they were delighted by all the different flavours.  Much brownie points for me…

Khana Khazana – Veggie Indian

Review

Very good Veggie Indian on the Island opp Delaney’s in Wanchai.  Good Thali’s and a very reasonably priced buffet lunch, usually with free flowing dosas which really rocks my boat.

If I ever open a lunch restaurant it is going to be a hole in the wall called Dosa to Go, because I just can’t believe that more people don’t go potty for these fab “pankcakes” either in London or Hong Kong.

Since this place was taken over from the guys who used to own it (ie Brantos) you can even have a beer.

This is definitely a good food at good prices kind of a venue.

khana khazana

Food: Real mix of southern indian cuisine, as well as bombay style snacks etc.  Do have the dhal Makani, the masala dosa, and the bagan batha, and I also love the different puris and idlis. Yum, Yum, Yum.

Ambience: Nothing special, but clean with dark wooden pillars and panelling, comfy chairs, big TVs on the wall so usually you can watch what’s going on in the cricket if there’s a big match on.

Service: swift and friendly

Price: Very decent price. Full dinner with drinks and so much food they have to roll you out the door, is about $200 per head inc service. Buffet lunch not much more than half that.

Location:1F, Dannies House, 20 Luard Road, Wanchai. Entrance is on Jaffe Road though.  2520 5308

Open: 7 days a week, lunch and dinner.

Website: www.khanakhazana.hk