Posts tagged “Hong Kong

Sunday evening bliss – Sham Shek Tsuen

Hong Kong corners:

I’m feeling all bucolic at the moment. I think it’s spending more time on Lantau with the cows that’s doing it.

Sunset and low tide in Sham Wat Bay

I’ve always been slightly reticent to reveal my favourite “secret” places in Hong Kong in case more people decide to descend, but I’ve realised that very few civilians can be bothered to or have time to investigate the furthest reaches of our nobbly territory, so I’m going to start sharing, (albeit I’m still not going to give you my most favourite places for now, we’re going to start small).

Tucked down in one of the most hidden corners of Lantau is Sham Shek Tsuen and Sham Wat Bay.

If you ever walk between Tai O and Tung Chung (a highly recommended, easy walk around the coast, through some fantastic villages), then you will come to Sham Wat which is below the Big Buddha.

There are a couple of little eateries, and the locals are just super lovely.  The muddy bay is chock full with oysters, mussels, cockles and crabs, and the village is known for its oyster omelettes and dried seaweed.

A beautiful corner of Hong Kong, where you can sit with a can of beer, dangle your legs over the sea wall and watch the sun slip below the horizon into the sea and the locals harvesting their seafood. Chill-mc-chillin.

The villagers insisted on giving us lots of fruit from their orchards.

The best way to get there (as most of you don’t have a Lantau permit) is actually to do it as part of the walk to or from Tai O, or by bike if you’ve got legs of steel.

But if you fancy a last beer after a day on the beaches of South Lantau then the only way to go is by taxi, and get ready for a pretty hairy ride up and down the Sham Wat Road.

Call taxis on 2984 1328 or 2984 1268. Be persistent, taxis can be wildly difficult to get through to here.

Things Not Going To Plan For Aqua Group

Following on from the widely held belief here in Hong Kong that Aqua Group has completely screwed up the opening of Hullett House in Heritage 1881 so far, comes the news that all is not going well up in Beijing.  All four of their outlets in the Legation Quarter have now been closed for 2 weeks apparently over a big old cat fight between them and the landlords. Ever with his paw on the pulse, Beijing Boyce has the details here.

Lot 10 – Tiny and Tasty in NoHo

I don’t know about you, but sometimes the inspiration to commit paws to typewriter is difficult to catch – but having looted the wine corner, I’m now armed with a large glass of a rather wonderful Argiano Brunello, and if that doesn’t inspire me – then shoot me now (well when I’ve finished drinking it…)

Right – on to Lot 10.

Review:

Thanks to a couple of comments posted to Caustic Candy, and a scour of Chowhound I decided to give this much ignored (by me, deliberately) little bolt hole a try.

I don’t know why it’s never made me want to give it a go – I’ve seen it for years, and walked by it hundreds of times, but I suppose I’ve been rather tired of “French” restaurants in HK. I know it’s not fashionable, but I just don’t (or didn’t in the case of Plats) think places like La Bouteille, Plats or Le Blanc were really any good (too much dodgy foie gras and low quali steaks), so when I saw Lot 10 open during that gold rush of private kitchen styley establishments I just wasn’t interested (Lot 10 has apparently changed hands since those early 2005 days but who’d have known?)

*Of course the shining example of private kitchen’s for me used to be Frank Ching’s Tribute when it was on Cochrane Street, but that may have been something to do with the wonderful evenings I spent there with some friends of his, where we used to ransack his kitchen after-hours and he’d let us taste all his latest creations. The sooner he’s up and running again the better – Go Frank!

And so to supper:

Food:  French inspired, locally sourced fish where possible, local produce used where possible – yes, yes, yes.  This is what we want Hong Kong.

Companion had French onion soup to start – very good, tasty stock base.

For mains, I had the crispy pork shoulder on a bed of lentils.  For those of you who like bbq pork neck at Thai restaurants, this pork shoulder had a similar texture – incredibly tender with slightly crispy edges. And Oh My Lord the Lentils!  If you think lentils are for hippies, too Robert Carrier 70′s or only fit for dal, then you are very wrong – Lot 10′s lentils were a revelation. They were so subtly seasoned and spiced, they were wonderful (how geeky is that?!).

My wonderful (and in no way erstwhile) dining companion had a steak with a macaroni gratin  - steak was good quality: a well cooked slab of flesh. Macaroni gratin added a very light accompaniment, but was a bit too oot of the ordinary and not a winning combo for either of us – but hey, worth a try.

We did though have lettuce with peas and bacon (grrr, yum, yum) and duck fat roasted potatoes (almost…almost…as good as my own), so overall the food was very well received.

Drinks: Reasonable and well thought out wine list.  We had a very decent Torbreck for around $400.

Ambience: A bolt hole. There are only 3-4 tables downstairs (and it’s a push past the kitchen to sidle into the washrooms). A couple of tables outside on Shing Hing Terrace, and another larger room good for private parties hidden upstairs. Clean lines, white linen, white walls (slightly small tables and chairs, but then it’s a slightly small restaurant).

Service: Quiet and competent service.

Price: We paid around $1200 for a meal for 2.  Mains were around $250 on average. Food was quality, and wine a good price, so I think good value for the experience. Will return.

Location: On corner of Gough St and Shin Hing Terrace, so nice and quiet.  34 Gough Street (NoHo), Central, Hong Kong. Tel 2155 9210.

UPDATE:

Went for lunch last week and had a lovely meal.

Just $98 for two courses + tea or coffee – fantastic value.

I had home cured gravlax and a local caught snapper, grilled which were both very good, and my companion had a good sized, tasty Caesar salad and a very decent steak.  We sat outside on the street terrace and were thoroughly entertained by the guys playing shuttlecock (Jianzi in Mando, not sure what the Canto is), one of whom must have been about 80 and was the very definition of spry.

A perfect break from the office in the middle of the day, and such good value for money (we even succumbed to sharing a chocolate pot for desert for $30 extra – delish). Will become a regular haunt.

Rat Alley, LKF – there’s a new reason it’s called that…

Review and an open letter to Uncle Alan:

So when I first arrived in Hong Kong I understood that we called the place of much cheapness that was Wing Wah Lane “Rat Alley”, simply because of the rats – and believe me there were many.

I lived in Lan Kwai Fong for a couple of years on what used to be the wonderfully quiet Wo On Lane (that backs onto Wing Wah), and we used to fight pitched battles with the wily creatures on late night returns home.

More recently, Rat Alley has earned its sobriquet for a wholly different reason – the restauranteurs are the rats now, charging crazy prices for the slop they call food and serve in their establishments.

Yes, I know that the landlords will be blamed for putting up the rent – but Christ – you’re probably in the most lucrative entertainment district in Asia bar Rappongi Hills!

I’m sure there are all sorts of bar owners who would love to pay top dollar for some of that commercial space, and we’d actually have a truly pedestrian friendly piece of LKF Magaluf to hang out in. Sling a roof across that space, add some sort of ventilation and you could have an awesome year-round courtyard.

I used to have a soft spot for the crazy chap who owns Good Luck Thai (and seemed either to be preternaturally cheerful, or just perpetually pissed), but now I understand that he runs most of the establishments on that strip so competition is diminishing, and I’m not quite so enamoured as I was before.

The only reason I went recently was that some poor tourist idiot had heard it was a good place for al fresco dining and was already there by the time I’d arrived to meet him.

It’s time those restaurants went bust, and we got some proper venues in there, or that the LCSD had a moment of inspiration and set up a proper food night-market à la Singapore.

Actually, scrap that. Can you even begin to imagine the monstrosity that would be an LCSD produced “authentic” night market?

Come on Mr Zeman – if you can afford to set up LKF in Chengdu, why don’t you go the whole hog in HK and grab a hold of Wing Wah Lane too and deliver all those poor tourist saps from their misery?

Korea Garden – Fast and furious in Sheung Wan.

Review:

I’ve been dining at Korea Garden for the decade or so I’ve been in Hong Kong, and although this is lazy, I’ve really never bothered to find an alternative, as I really like going there.

The Korean lady who runs it has been doing so for a least two decades, setting up in what used to be the Korea Building on Des Voeux Road, which is now the Bahunia Serviced Apartments.

Food: Total comfort food.  BBQ, bibimbap (stone pot), Sam-gye-tang (ginseng chicken soup), etc. Tasty and plentiful, your bbq comes with a table full of kimchi and other banchan, as well as rice and daikon soup, and if you run out, just ask for more and they will keep it coming (within reason).  I’ve enjoyed every single meal I’ve ever had here, although I do spend the next day oozing garlic out of every pore.

Drinks: usual stuff, tea and beers (they also sell Hite and OB), careful when you order spirits, as they are likely to just bring you a full bottle and plonk it on the table (got to admire the Korean appetite for getting completely battered, they really are the Scandi’s of Asia).

Service: Sometimes too swift. When they get very busy you just have to shout out the numbers of what you want. If you’re not quick enough they may run off without taking the whole order. As I say the lady who runs it oversees the restaurant as though she’s feeding her own children – if you are looking for a bit of face time, then chat to her rather than the waiters who will give you short shrift.

Ambience: Plastic flowers, dark wood panelling, low ceilings, tables packed in – it’s not going to win any prizes for style, but it’s busy, jolly and steaming. There are always a bunch of Koreans in the place, either expats or out-of-towners which is a good sign. They also have a couple of good sized private rooms where they will put larger parties.

Price: You can really spend as little or as much as you like here.  A stone pot meal in itself is under $100, whereas some of the top end beef rib bbq’s will set you back $200+ a plate. Usually we spend around $200 a head.  They do an array of good value set menus which are, if I remember correctly, around $180 (+10%) per head.

Location: 1F, Blissful Building, 247 Des Voeux Road, Sheung Wan, very close to MTR exit B. Tel: 2542 2339.

Open: Mon-Sat, lunch and dinner.  This place is rammed at lunchtime, so best to book ahead. I’ve never had a problem yet getting a table in the evening for dinner.

Just thinking about this restaurant now makes me crave bulgogi – I must rally the troops to go.

Jamie Oliver – HK launch news, but will it be "Green"

Hmm, so Jamie Oliver is to open a bunch of restaurants in Hong Kong and then across Asia.

It’s a crowded space here, and sounds like the pricing is slap bang in the middle of that crowded space, but his name stapled to the front of this will surely pull in the crowds, and you’d hope the food lives up to his reputation of using good ingredients.

However, isn’t this where it gets a bit sticky?  Mr Oliver is all about using seasonal, local ingredients, so you have to wonder what his franchise partner has planned to fit in with this theme of sustainability – for example when it comes to free range chicken.

The closest option I know of for broiler chickens are Australia, as I’m not sure the free range options in China are going to be of the right sort for their needs – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Opening an Italian restaurant thousand of miles away from where, I guess, many of the ingredients will be produced is not very environmentally friendly at first glance. Let’s hope they have a plan for this.

The only other restaurant I know of that actually has sustainability as their stated aim is Eddie’s in Lantau, and they really need to shout about it more, as it’s a good reason to give it a go.

Anyway, I’ll certainly be interested to see what the franchiser is going to do with this, and interested to see who actually ends up being the franchisee – I wonder which company here will take it on…

Da Ping Huo – Food is good, but is it Caustic or Candy?

Review:

Now that I have rediscovered my hearty, homely, more informal Sichuan favourite San Xi Lou (I lost it for two years, when it closed as Man Jiang Hong in CWB and became San Xi Lou in Central), I no longer have to brave Madame Wong’s end-of-service party trick quite so often – which is a relief.

dapinghuo_causticcandy

You see, I think Madame Wong’s genuine Sichuan food at Da Ping Huo is really very good. The decor is stylish and I think her husband and front-of-house manager is also very adept at what he does, and is a knowledgeable and friendly man.

However, some of the notes Madame hits when she emerges from the kitchen to sing Sichuan Opera at the end of the evening, hit me like a sonic weapon, making my lips curl back, blood drip from my eyes and the wax melt in my ears.

They pierce my skull and reach deep into the most primitive medullas of my brain, squeezing them in a fist of steel. I have to grip the table edge with all my might so that I don’t appall everyone by stuffing my fingers in my ears and screaming for her to shut up.

Maybe I’m part canine and the notes she hits are to me like a dog whistle is to man’s best friend.

Suffice to say, that I think Da Ping Huo might experience more repeat business if the singing was only on certain nights of the week, and therefore avoidable.  It makes the joint feel a bit themed, and it does put me off going as often as I’d like to, (or maybe this is a ruse so they don’t have to change the menu too often, as they know that most people wouldn’t be able to stand the operatics more than once a month…)

Anyhew, on to the food.

Food: As natives of Sichuan, the owners do put on an authentic meal, (my friend from Chengdu rates the food highly). You are fed what Madame Wong wants to feed you. You have about 8 courses in total. The menu is well balanced, combining some deeply spicy-hot dishes that leave your nose streaming and you drinking beer by the gallon, with more delicate ones, and then some in between.

The food is truly delicious, artistically presented and so far is the most elegantly executed Sichuan cuisine I have found in Hong Kong.

However, I have to say that I’m pretty sure, give or take a couple of dishes, I have had the same menu each time I have visited. I’d love to know what other people’s experiences have been, but I do think they could mix it up a bit more. Let me know…

Drinks: the usual beer, teas and soft drinks etc, but a couple of interesting additions like plum wine (which I’ve been led to believe takes the sting off the chilli a bit).

Service: Service is good, Mr Wang introduces each dish which is helpful, and waiters are efficient and subtle.

Ambience:  Mr Wang is an artist and so the whole restaurant is very stylish. The backdrop is minimalist so that his own works stand out displayed around the walls. It’s a chic, industrial, minimalist vibe. All good, in fact, until Madame Wong comes out to shatter your eardrums.

The first time I heard her, it was fine. I let it go because the concept of the chef coming out to show you their other talents and entertain you is lovely. But by the second or third time, it really is too, too much, especially as, much like the menu not changing, she hasn’t changed her tune once either (how about a spot of Elvis or Doris Day next time?).

Price: Can’t remember the exact price at the moment, and no one’s answering the phone down there. It’s a good value meal – less than HK$300 for the food, so with drinks and service it ends up around $400-$500 depending on how thirsty you are or what you’re thirsty for.

Location: GF, 49 Hollywood Road, Central. (Slightly tricky to find, entrance is on Graham Street which is the little alley shooting down the hill at the junction of Lyndhurst Terrace and Hollywood Road). Tel: 2559-1317. It is always a good idea to book ahead. There are two strict sittings per night.

Da Ping Huo, is great for taking out-of-town guests and tourists, as the food is real good, the decor stylish and the experience out of the ordinary. But I myself can’t go more than 2 or 3 times a year simply because of the singing and the menu not changing.

Thankfully as I’ve found San Xi Lou, my Sichuan experiences now balance in Hong Kong, and so once again I can look forward to going to Da Ping Huo, in the knowledge that I have another really enjoyable Sichuan restaurant to satisfy my chilli lust on a more regular basis.

Classified – beware the cheese room on your way out of M1NT

Review:

I’ve lost count now of the number of times I’ve stumbled out of M1NT ruined on Ruinart and decided what I really, really want is 1/2 a pound of cheese, some quince jam and a tin of duck confit.

general cheese, not classified cheese

general cheese, not classified cheese

Fortunately, it has been a very long time since I discovered the fruits of such a mission lying ravaged in the fridge whilst groping for my morning grapefruit with no recollection of the actual purchasing process, and thankfully, have only woken up once to discover beluga caviar smeared into my counter tops.

What I have recently discovered though, is that I am not the only idiot to succumb to Classified’s late night temptations. A recent house-guest from the UK left a little note for me one morning telling me to help myself to the cheese in the fridge, but not to wake him unless he hadn’t surfaced by 3pm.

I’m sure there are more of you out there.  Own up!

I’ve never been a regular user of Classified’s café, although it seems popular enough (and they can also do you private dinner parties in their wine storeroom), but I do quite often run down there when I’m off to a dinner or house party to buy vino and other treats.  No one is ever going to peeved that you turned up with a tub of olives, a few slices of Serrano ham or some pâté de foie gras to go with the Pomerol you just bought them. It’s a great little deli for naughty treats.

But, it is their dim and musty cheese room that captivates me. It takes me about half an hour usually to buy un plateau de fromage, as it takes that long for me to try every single one.  Staff are most accommodating and suitably knowledgeable, and the only thing I would add to their inventory is Belazu’s Smoked Chilli Jelly which is the ideal accompaniment to hard cheeses, rather than quince jelly which, when I’m not pie-eyed, I actually believe is a particularly pointless preserve.

Take note HKTB – it’s speciality shops like Classified that will help Hong Kong to one day deserve the epithet of Asia’s World City (brr, sends a shiver down my spine just writing that…), not geegaw shops stuffed with the gimcrackery of solid gold loos.

So next time you are in NoHo and have had a few to drink, satisfy that urge for a hearty kebab with a platter of cheese instead.

Location: 108 Hollywood Road, Central. Tel: 2525 3454

Yun Fu, Wyndham St – Hypothermic and Disappointed of Hong Kong

Review:

I have been to Yun Fu twice now, once as a couple, and more recently as a table of eight.

Both times I have been disappointed with the overall experience, and have now lost interest in going back, which is a shame.

Food: Northern and Western Chinese food (read that as more Sichuan/Yunnan than Xinjiang).  The menu sounds amazing, and there are many dishes you want to try. The food just doesn’t quite hit the mark though for me, which is really annoying. The menu promises so much, but the food doesn’t manage to deliver on that potential.

Drinks: Long, expensive drinks/cocktails/wine list.

Ambience: OK, this is what tips this restaurant into my caustic category:

If you dine in the main restaurant you first of all pass through this long and mysterious tunnel past lots of small private rooms, which frankly look cramped, but I’m sure are better than sitting in the restaurant.  You then emerge into what can only be described as a large, dingy, cold, dungeon.

They keep the lighting so far down and the air-con so nipple-freezing cold that you cannot actually see or concentrate on your food. However, if you get the wrong seat you will have to endure one of their laser focused light bulbs grinding into your retinas like a gestapo interrogation lamp.

The stone slab flooring and the right angle wooden chairs with no padding, means you end up with dining noise being reverberated around the whole place, each scraping chair leg sending a nails-on-blackboard shiver through your skull and aching sitting-bones after just 20 mins (It looks great in the website, but that’s not what it’s like in real life).

All in all it really is like being in a medieval jail.

Service: I haven’t really noticed the service, which must mean it is fine, although I do remember being brought a warm Tsingtao on my first visit which is a big black mark in my book.

Price: Frankly it’s expensive for an experience that leaves you hypothermic and bruised. Expect to spend around $1000 for two people.

Location: Basement, 43-45 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong. +852 2116 8855. Just about next door to the LKF Hotel, opp bars like Privé and Wagyu.

If the ambience was different, I might have a different opinion about the food, and maybe if you have one of the private rooms it’s better, but as it is, when you are having to eat just to keep yourself from slipping into a hypothermic coma, there isn’t a lot of functioning brain left to enjoy the meal.

Song – good place for a quiet, relaxing lunch in Noho

Review:

For supper Song could be considered a little pricey, so there are other Vietnamese restaurants that come further up my list than here. However, for lunch it has a very reasonable buffet, and it’s a lovely spot to duck out of the mayhem if you’re having a hellish day with Kevin in accounts.

Food: Bit more of a modern Vietnamese feel rather than simply serving the old favourites.  There isn’t a huge choice on the buffet, but I quite like that – sometimes too much choice involves the wasting of too much time and brain power. They don’t put huge platters of food out, so it’s never flacid or stale, in fact they replenish quickly and often. All in all, it’s good, fresh, crisp, well thought out fare.

Drinks: Good drinks list, lots of interesting teas and juices which is great at lunchtime, plus a range of Vietnamese beers and a wine list.

Ambience: This is a small restaurant, but it looks out onto a wee public park that is stuffed with greenery, so it’s very relaxing during the day – it’s down a little alley off Hollywood Road, so you feel like it’s a bit of a secret oasis.

The main reason I don’t come here at night is that when it’s dark outside, the venue feels pokey and cluttered when it’s busy, plus you lose the beauty of the location – I haven’t been for supper for many years, but lunch there regularly.

Service: I’ve never seen it chokka at lunch time which again is one of the reasons I like to come, and the service has always been discreet and efficient.

Price: Lunch buffet is $98 + service, so it’s good value for the quality of the food and the overall experience.

Location: Basement, 75 Hollywood Rd, Central, Hong Kong. Tel 2559 0997. If you are walking west along along Hollywood then it’s the first little alleyway after Peel St, turn back if you get to Aberdeen St. There is a Red sign overhead when you reach the alley so look for it.

L16 Cafe & Bar – Like dining in a public toilet.

Review:

L16 Hong Kong Park review

L16 has an enviable location bang in the middle of Hong Kong Park.  You’d have thought that if someone could work out how to keep the mozzies at bay, this would be THE prime location in Admiralty/Central for a proper pukka restaurant/bar – sadly not.

I recently went for a late lunch here on a Sunday because I’d been walking through the parks and was hot and bothered. First off I had to move from table to table to find the location that reeked least of toilet (this isn’t a one off, I’ve moved outside before for drinks because of this issue). Really, really unpleasant especially when you realise that the toilets and the kitchen are in one central block in the middle of the room, but I was in need of air-con having to choose between eau de urine or heat-stroke.

Food: Thai.  Bog standard menu, nothing special, nothing bad, middle of the road cheap fare.

Ambience: They rely totally on their location and the surrounding greenery to detract from the fact this place is in massively bad repair.  Sit outside and you are attacked by mozzies, but other than that it’s a pleasant place to be. Sit inside and you are faced with tatty menus, chipped chairs, tables with the laminate peeling off, stained floors and the underlying bouquet of privvies.

Service: We waited a long time for both food and drinks even though there were very few people in the restaurant.  Dishes came at very long intervals so you had almost finished one of your mains before the next one appeared, so not great.

Cost: It’s reasonably priced considering you are in the centre of the park and the quality of food is decidedly average.  You’d be pissed if you had to pay more.

Location: Close to the Pacific Place end of Hong Kong Park in Admiralty.

This is such a shame.  Props that they are making the venue accessible to all pockets in such a popular tourist spot, but come on!  If a place like Nha Trang on Wellington Street in Central and in CC Wu Building on Queen’s Road East, Wanchai can make tasty, interesting, quality food at very reasonable prices, in a smart and clean venue, what is the excuse of these fools in Hong Kong Park?

If you have to go, just go for a glass of vino and sit outside, that way you remain oblivious of its massive failings.

Bloody dreadful – it needs new management and new vision.

Best hole in the wall – Thai Hut, Wanchai

Review:

Thai Hut is always there when you need it – they have seen me at my office best and at my Wanchai worst. I can go at lunchtime for a quick $35 lunch-box of curry and rice, at supper for pad ka prao, tom yum gai, and a papaya salad, and at kicking out time for a Laos sausage, chicken satay, or deep-fried chicken skin.

Caustic Candy Thai Hut Wanchai

The Hong Kong fun police have stopped the snackery from setting up tables and stools outside which is frustrating, so as it’s a tiny spot you have to cross your fingers and hope there is some free bottom space.  On the crossroads of Luard and Hennessy it is my favourite Wanchai people-watching joint – the hookers, the sailors, the conference goers, the mamasans, the tourists –  sit as near to the pavement as possible to goggle at the goings on.

Food: Homely thai fare.  Rock solid, hot as you can bear, caters to the Thai community in Wanchai so it’s proper stuff like.  You have to try a Laos style (or Isaan I suppose it might be here) sausage if you haven’t ever had one.  It is the “rustic” looking one with the big bits of garlic and fat.  Also, my favourite supper dish is the Pad Ka Prao  - steamed rice, minced meat and long beans, with chilli, basil, garlic etc, topped off with a fried egg.  Massively hot and yumtious.

Caustic Candy Thai Hut Wanchai Sausage

Drinks:  Great value for money as they sell beers and soft drinks in cans at basically 7/11 prices. Can also have lime sodas, iced lemon teas, lots of Thai favourites.

Ambience: Eclectic clientele, Thais (girls, boys and ladyboys) and people who know this place serves some of the best Thai food in town. You’re basically on the street, so it’s that Wanchai feeling all the way.

Service:  Always friendly, always quick, seems like the whole family are involved in some way.

Price: Cheapness. Rarely more than $100 per head if you have a mix of dishes to share and some drinks.  At lunch I struggle to spend more than $40 including a drink.

Location: Opposite Mes Amis in the same strip as Ebeneezers etc on corner of Luard and Hennessey Road, Wanchai. 2866 8528

Open:  Almost constantly.  Seems to close around 5am until brunch-ish.

Best Pub in Hong Kong – The Chinnery

Review

Some may disagree with me that The Chinnery in the Mando is a pub, but they are wrong.

The Chinnery

1) It serves pie

2) It serves soss an mash

3) It serves beer and ale in tankards

Honestly, the Chinnery is my all time favourite comfort location – always makes me feel at peace with the world.

Food: All their food is great, you can have a chicken makhani, pea and ham soup, steak pie, duck liver pate and toast, eggs benedict etc – it really has the most spot on menu, if it was in a bigger room it would be The Wolseley of HK.

Drinks:  Ale, beer, gunners in tankards too, lethal gin and tonics, very good Bloody Mary’s, and one of the largest collections of Single Malt in HK.

Service: Faultless.  Super efficient, very friendly, couldn’t be more accommodating – what the Mando is all about.

Ambience:  Chairs you could spend all day in.  Wood panelled with lots of original Chinnery’s which are beautiful. Low lit, proper old-school club styley.  Very banker at lunchtime, but always convivial atmos.  Sit at the bar if you are on your own and you’ll usually end up chatting with the person next to you.  Outside of lunchtime you feel as though you have found a secret that no one else knows. Always surprised that this place isn’t rammed all day!

Price: It’s not cheap – I usually end up spending $300 per head just for lunch, but the food is top-notch.

Location: 1st floor of the Mandarin Oriental, 5 Connaught Road, Central. 2522 0111

Open: Open from 11:30am til around 11:30pm Mon through Sat.  Lunch 11:30am-2:30pm (go early for lunch as you can’t book tables and it’s always busy at lunch time). Dinner 7:30-9:30pm.  Closed Sundays and public holidays.

Kiyotaki – One of my favourite Japanese

Update: 24.5.10

Went to Kiyotaki for the first time in a year today and it was stupendous.

Chef served us halibut sashimi for the first time and it was utterly buttery – quite the texture sensation.

He’d also been out fishing that day off Lamma with his friends who were all propped up at the bar, and he tempur-ed the little fishes they’d caught and they were lip-samckingly good – crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside: just like an armadillo…

I also admit to giving a very unladylike little grunt of ecstasy when I got my chops round the toro sashimi.  Splendid. Do go. It’s well worth.

Review

Compact and bijou mostyn!

Yeung Chi Wang who owns and runs this restaurant is lovely.  He is as smiley as a laughing buddha, and makes me happy whenever I go in his restaurant.  I know that he is Hongky, but I think that he spent a long time in Japan.  I may be wrong, next time I go I’ll check further.

When you walk in the door just tell chef to feed you and he’ll bring you what’s best that day.   He has a great range of sake, shouju and beer, and beware of getting too in the swing of things otherwise you’ll end up having a lock-in with the staff on a school night.

Food:  Very good seafood.  In the top 95% of quality in Hong Kong for Japanese restaurants I would posit. He has great yellowtail, fantastic horse mackeral, toro so melty it will make you want to cry. His sushi and sashimi presentation and portion sizes are spot on and obviously uses fresh wasabi. He also does  yakatori, noodles, salads etc. and it is always worth asking if he has his special tofu from Japan.  Have it deep fried with bonito flakes and miso etc. It’s grey-green inside and is bloody lovely.

Drinks: Choose your own sake pot and away you go.  Very decent sake assortment and lots of beers and teas.

Ambience: Front room stuff this, can’t really seat more than 20 people or so, but chef will reorganise the entire table and screen arrangement to suit your party.  Can sit at the bar as well and chat with the workers.  Small wooden chairs, so not great if you are generously proportioned, but the food is so damn good you won’t notice the discomfit.

Service: Chef rules, his staff are attentive and service is swift.  Make sure you invite chef to partake of your beer or sake and he’ll reciprocate the generosity.

Price:  Kiyotaki is quite pricey, the quality of the ingredients is so high that you have to expect to pay for it. We usually don’t get out for less than HK$1200 all in for two people, but it is fantastic food with such lovely service that it’s well worth the price.  I would always choose to go here over the branded restaurants of Nobu and Zuma (tired of Asian-Confusion anyone?).

Location:  At 13 Gough Street in Noho, Central, 2877-1772.

Open: 6 days a week, lunch and dinner. Sunday dinner only.

Dakota Prime/Opus Grill – same sorry restaurant?

Update 21.5.10:  Hmm, just come across a new opening “Opus Grill” which is in exactly the same location as Dakota Prime. Does this mean purely a new name and a bit of a redesign, with the same sorry service and management or something wholly different? If anyone knows, do please drop a comment by, I’d love to know that’s it’s gone tits up for all the reasons I gave below. It certainly didn’t get into the Michelin or Miele guides, so maybe they have decided on a rethink and rebrand…

Review:

Never publicly state your intention to be a Michelin starred restaurant and then provide the worst table service in the whole of Hong Kong. Dakota is a pretty new (opened late winter 2009) steak restaurant slap bang in the middle of Lan Kwai Fong, charging bull market prices.

Is this in fact Cova Coffee?
Is this in fact Cova Coffee?

This is quite possibly one of the most overpriced meals I’ve ever partooken in. There are many ways to review a restaurant, I think the most pertinent for Dakota is by timeline.

Consider:

7:30-7:33 Arrive at restaurant, seated promptly, given a cocktail and wine list.  Look about, decide it’s got all the ambience of an upscale mall restaurant – in fact now I think about it, it’s very Cova Coffee…

7:33-8:00 Catch-up with friends as we haven’t seen them for ages, and finally realise that no-one’s been over to ask us what we want to drink, nor have they brought us a food menu. Peruse wine list and laugh heartily about the preposterous and try-hard selection.

8:00 Catch waiter’s eye. Waiter comes over. Order a cocktail each and ask for the menu.

8:04 Menus arrive.

8:15 Haul waiter over to ask where the drinks are and tell him we are ready to order. He tells us he is only a drinks waiter so we have to wait for a food waiter.

8:25 Haul waiter over again to ask where our drinks are and that we still haven’t had our food order taken.

8:33 Drinks arrive.

8:45 The right waiter comes to take our food order – over an hour after we had arrived. Out of 4 diners, only 2 order a starter.

9:10 Starters arrive.  We order a bottle of wine.

9:13 Amuse bouche arrives for all of us (after the starters…?)

9:15 Bread basket arrives (after the starters and the amuse bouche…?)

9:30 Finish starters

10:00 3 main courses arrive

10:05 Last main course arrives.

Leave restaurant at 10:50 after main courses to go somewhere else for coffee and dessert!

7:30 to 10:50 to get through one aperitif, starters and a main course? With the pleasure of paying HK$1000 per head? Never again. You deserve to go bankrupt you incompetent, arrogant fools.

Outrageously overpriced for what it is.  You would go to the Mandarin Grill or the Intercon in a heartbeat over this place, and receive fantastic service in better surroundings.  Hell, I’d go to the Gallery in Lantau and have a good steak for a fraction of the cost.

Makes my blood boil again thinking about it.

One concession – the morel mushroom sauce was very tasty.