Friday, 30 May 2014

Pang's Kitchen, Happy Valley, Hong Kong

This is a later quest at my local neighbourhood Michelin starred restaurant. Pang's kitchen received it's one star last year serving top notch Chinese cuisine. It is a short walk from where we live and was already full when we arrived, proving its popularity, even on a weekday evening. 

After a very short wait to prepare our table, we ordered some popular dishes off their menu, described below. 

Our first dish to arrive was sweet and sour pork, shown below. This had strawberries in it as the differentiator between standard dishes that usually have pineapple. There are also nice small portions of battered pork meat in a sour sauce, cooked with chilli pepper for a bit of heat. A really good and colourful dish to start with.
Sweet & Sour Pork
Fried rice with salted fish and chicken, pictured below, was the next dish to arrive. The fish are chopped small pieces that add some great strong seasoning to the dish, which is mixed with chicken and shredded lettuce. This was the best dish of the night, with everything fried really well and tasting great.
Fried Rice
The photo below shows stir fried vegetables as our third dish. It is served in an impressive looking clay pot to preserve the heat as it still has the sizzling noise when placed on the table. It was cooked simply and well, with the greens still having crunchiness and basic garlic seasoning for the flavour.
Stir Fried Vegetable
The food is impressive but you pay for that quality, although the amounts are generous and we ended up taking a doggy bag home. Being located in Happy Valley probably adds to the price as well.

The restaurant holds 40 people and is quite representative of Hong Kong in that it was densely populated (i.e. packed) when we were there. The interior is rather dated, reminding me of Chinese restaurants back in the UK, and the tableware was a bit used. The service, whilst not terrible, could have been a bit more hospitable, given its status. Overall it is worth a visit, primarily for their food. 

Scores:
Food: 4/5
Presentation: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Setting: 3/5

Overall: 14/20

Total Bill: 458HKD, about £19 a head. 

We ate: All of the above.

We drank: Jasmine Tea.

I wore: Casual, 1 Michelin star attire.


Thursday, 1 May 2014

Spices, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong

I am back here with my wife at the Repulse Bay Hotel building, this time lunching at another restaurant, Spices, which is also run by the Peninsula Hotel.

Given its name, this place serves food from the Indochina region, as testimony to the trade that occurred in the area. Indeed, as part of the table set up, there was a small pot of star anise on our table shown in the picture below, giving of an aroma reminiscent of liquorice sweets.
Star Anise on the table
Drinks were ordered first and shown below. I went for the Lemongrass Peach Tea and my wife went for the Honey Melon, a seasonal special on offer. Both were refreshing but a little too sweet, though.
Our Drinks Order
For food we ordered Tom Yum Gong soup and Lamb Massala curry, which arrived at the same time. Both looked appealing, with the curry in a steel pan on a heater. The lamb was well cooked tender. The curry sauce was not runny, and had good flavour and heat from spice. The soup did look small, which reflected its price as one of the cheaper items on the menu. It had very nice spicy and zesty flavour and contained good sized prawns and quite a lot of mushrooms. 

Steamed white rice was included in the price of the curry and the portion the waitress gave us was fairly generous in comparison to the soup.
TomYum Soup & Lamb Massala
The Morning Glory vegetable, pictured below, came soon after, which was stir fried with garlic and chilli. This was probably the spiciest (there is a bit of a trend here) dish we ate, although we asked for less chilli.
Morning Glory
We decided to go for a dessert after the mains and went for the 'Khao Niaow Ma Muang', or the Thai mango sticky rice pudding. This was the best course of the day. The rice was white and black as a variant, which was sweet and sticky; the mango was fresh and there was a coconut based sauce draped all over it for added sweet flavour, which cooled our palates from the hot main dishes.
Mango Sticky Rice Pudding
The decor has a colonial feel but not opulent and one can feel relaxed in this venue. It is fairly expensive but that does not seem to detract customers as the place was popular with the indoor and outdoor seats pretty much taken. The quality of the food is pretty good, considering the geographic range it covers. Service was good as well, although not as attentive as the Verandah, which was expected. If you are planning a day out in Repulse Bay then a visit to Spices will do no wrong.

Scores:
Food: 4/5
Presentation: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Setting: 4/5

Overall: 15/20

Total Bill: 658HKD, about £20 a head. 

We ate: All of the above.

We drank: Lemongrass Peach Tea, Honey Melon.

I wore: 'Thai' purchased Fred Perry shorts.

The Verandah, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong

I am here with my wife at the Verandah, a restaurant that is in the splendid old Repulse Bay Hotel building. It is run by the Peninsula Hotel and we had a Sunday brunch there. The colonial building sets the scene with Classic Victorian interiors and elegant table setting, shown below.
Table Setting
As this was a buffet, there are going to be a lot of pictures of the food that we took and ate to follow.

My first visit to the counters saw me take little nibbles of Samosa, Spring Roll, Siu Mai, Har Gow and Scallop, shown below. These 'canapés' were all very well made, with the scallop being the nicest item and overall a good starter to get the brunch going.  After this course the restaurant informed us of a cancellation and moved us to a window seat, which was kind of them. Next up for me was a plate of freshly shucked oysters and sashimi, which is not pictured but tasted good and raw, nonetheless.
First Plate
More cold dishes followed after the seafood in the shape of the picture below (working clockwise from the 12 o'clock position): Papaya Salad; Parma Ham and Melon; Duck Terrine; Mozzarella and Tomato; and Duck Breast and French Beans. All items were nice, with the duck breast being my favourite from this selection, more due to personal preference for this fowl meat. 
Cold Cut selection
I decided on some soup before the main course and served myself a bowl of Cauliflower velouté with smoked salmon and croutons added as nice condiments. This soup had a strong cauliflower flavour, was light and foamy but not quite warm enough.
Soup
Roast beef was the main dish ordered from the menu. A slab of fairly red Australian beef was served with a very well crafted potato gratin and some cute little vegetables to the side. The beef was OK and not too chewy but the gratin was the best bit of this dish, consisting of thin layers of potatoes mixed with a tasty cheese.
My Main Course
My wife went for the roast chicken for her main, pictured below, which I have to say looked and tasted better then my beef.

Wife's Main Course
Onto desserts now, and to the left of the picture below was a cake selection and a tiramisu on the right. The cakes were a chocolate one, light mouse and creme brûlée. The tiramisu was made at the counter, where the ingredients and laid out and placed in a small tea cup. The chef made with the right quantities of coffee and kahlua, and the result was a fabulous tiramisu.
First Dessert Course
I decided to go for a freshly made crepe pancake next, with a banana filling that I accompanied with some strawberry ice cream, shown below. This is quite a standard item in most upmarket buffets around in Hong Kong, and this version was no better or worse than others I have had.
Pancake
Lime soufflé followed, which was cooked out the counter. This was delicious, it was light with the sour lime going well with the sweetened egg mix. This was not the final last visit to the counters as I also got some water melon and pineapple, which are not pictured, and were the last things I ate that day.
Souffle
It is pricey but there is a lot of very good food on offer so you will not leave the Verandah hungry in the three hour time limit you are given, and it does carry the Peninsula brand. It is quite busy so bookings are recommended, but does not feel overcrowded. Desserts were best, with the Tiramisu and the Soufflé the standout dishes of the day. The service is mostly by yourself as it is a buffet but there are a lot of waiters serving drinks and main courses as well as assisting in clearing plates. Tea / coffee is served after the main course, with the tea served in proper leaves, which you would expect from this type of establishment. There is a live band as well for entertainment. So all in all a very enjoyable afternoon in a grand setting that is worth a try from anyone.

Scores:
Food: 4/5
Presentation: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Setting: 4/5

Overall: 16/20

Total Bill: 1400HKD, about £56 a head. 

We ate: All of the above.

We drank: Various fruit juices, Sangria and Earl Grey tea. These were all included in the price.

I wore: Smart Bally shoes.





Sunday, 13 April 2014

Yee Tung Heen, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Yee Tung Heen is a Chinese restaurant nestled on the second floor of the Excelsior hotel in Causeway Bay, where my wife and I were for a Sunday yum cha lunch. 

The spacious table was neatly set up as expected in this type of establishment. The picture shows the table layout with condiments and Dragon's Well tea on a warmer. 
Table Setting
We proceeded to order off the dim sum dishes menu, with the Siu Mai and Har Gow arriving first, shown below. These classic dim sum dishes usually come in fours in normal restaurants but were served as threes here. These were well made and tasty dumplings, with good portions of meat inside them. A twist in the design of the bamboo steamer was that it was of square form, rather than circular.
Siu Mai and Har Gow
Next was the Rice Flour Roll of three different fillings of beef, barbecued pork and prawn. This is another popular dim sum dish that was done well here at this restaurant; with a good roll that was not too sticky, wrapping a hearty filling. The picture shows the dish before the accompanying soy sauce was draped over it.
Rice Flour Roll
The Spring Rolls followed after. Again the portion was slightly smaller than in other restaurants but it made up in the presentation (apologies for not rotating the picture) and quality as the outer was golden brown and crispy and the inner packed with tasty shrimp.
Spring Roll
We were still hungry after eating the above and I ordered Chicken Feet to fill me up more. This dim sum staple was in a nice black bean sauce and of a decent sized portion, in comparison to the previous dishes ordered.
Chicken Feet
Our last dish was Sesame Roll as dessert. Our first impression was that this was small, with only three pieces for the price of $45. However it was well crafted (the photo cannot make out the detail) and tasted good, which rounded off our meal nicely.
Sesame Roll
The food here was pretty good, although they could have been a bit more generous in the portion size and setting was very plush. Service was attentive and very professional for a dim sum restaurant. Dishes are pricier than standard restaurants in the city but not too bad value. If you want some upmarket dim sum then Yee Tung Heen is worth a visit.

Scores:
Food: 4/5
Presentation: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Setting: 4/5

Overall: 16/20

Total Bill: 318.60HKD, about £13 a head. This included a 15% credit card discount. 

We ate: All of the above.

We drank: Dragon's Well Tea.

I wore: Casual jeans and hooded top, which were probably a bit too casual for this venue.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Tuck Room, Happy Valley, Hong Kong

I was not going to write anything but my experience at Tuck Room for dinner the other night led me to write about this place. Due to the sudden decision to write, there are no photos unfortunately.

It seems to be a wine bar / cafe and looks to be a fairly new place that is located in a back alley from a side street so hard to find, which was evident from the lack of people there when wife and I visited.

We may have been the only customers as when we walked in although there was a gentleman playing on his laptop and not really ordering.

The waitress took our order, then disappeared into the kitchen, so it appeared to be a one-woman show running this place.

My pasta dish came first, of which the pasta was not cooked long enough. It was served in a thick tomato sauce, which was not that good and also surprising as it was not green in colour as the menu noted the pesto sauce. This was only pointed out by the cook-waitress after we queried her. There was also a grand total of five shrimps. Generally, a disappointing dish.

The fish and chips for my wife came a few moments later. This staggered receipt of food was probably due to the fact that there was only one person cooking. It was served in a small thin plate, which looked nice but impractical for eating. The breaded fish portions were small and only the chips tasted nice and seemed to have been made in-house, but they may have come out of the packet.

I am not sure what Tuck Room is meant or trying to be. It has a wine night advertised and cigars are on the food menu, which they should probably concentrate on those two items rather than food. Western food is more expensive in Hong Kong so quality needs to justify the amount one spends but value for money and general enthusiasm of staff (considering this is a newly opened venue) is lacking here. 

Scores:
Food: 2/5
Presentation: 3/5
Service: 2/5
Setting: 3/5

Overall: 10/20

Total Bill: 300HKD, about £12.50 a head.

We ate: fish and chips, shrimp pasta.

I drank: Iced caffe mocha, which cost about £4.

I wore: Down jacket.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Hokkaido Dairy Farm Restaurant, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

I found myself in a food court on a Sunday for this quest and out of the various outlets available I opted to try out Hokkaido Dairy Farm Milk restaurant.

I would say this place offers Hong Kong cafe style food. From their menu I decided to go for their Hokkaido Signature Set. Cash was exchanged and without too long a wait was presented with my food in its plastic and paper ware.

The food court was busy and I ended up walking a fair distance from the counter to find a seat.
Hokkaido Signature Set
The set is like a breakfast meal from a local cafe. There was a bowl of macaroni in a translucent, chicken stock, brothy soup base that tasted good enough; with barbecued pork slices topping it off, which was nice. The eggs were fried sunny side up as requested, which were still runny and the ham was slightly cooked. The thick white bread was lightly toasted, which I combined with the egg and ham to make a pleasant sandwich. 

I ordered tea as my drink for the set, which tasted like Hong Kong style cafe tea with evaporated milk, which to coin a phrase, is not really my cup of tea. 

My meal was filling without being anything special taste-wise. Service was efficient as with most food courts in Hong Kong. As it is in a food court of a popular shopping centre, due to its convenience I will likely visit again to give another item on their menu a try.

Scores:
Food: 3/5
Presentation: 3/5
Service: 3/5
Setting: 3/5

Overall: 12/20

Total Bill: 42HKD, about £3.50.

I ate: Hokkaido Signature Set.

I drank: Tea, that was part of the set.

I wore: Leisurely track suit top.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Cafe 69, Koh Samui, Thailand

We are still in Koh Samui but having a later quest for this entry.

The Cafe 69 is a restaurant I had read good things about and is located within a five minute walk from our hotel in the Bophut area of the island, so I thought my wife and I would give it a try for dinner.

We did not book but luckily there was an outdoor table available for us which was fine in the cooler night temperature. It was not long until the venue was full, with the waiter asking patrons to return later, proving its popularity.

The menu consists of Thai food and the have specials on a board too. You can also request the chef to try to rustle something up for you if you cannot find it on the menu, which is a really nice touch.

Drinks were ordered first and shown below are my lime soda and my wife's young coconut.
Drinks. Lime Soda on the left, Young Coconut on the right
We had the following food items, which were received in the order below.

The pomelo salad with beef arrived as our first dish, which was a great starter. The bitter-sour citrusy pomelo pieces mixed in with well cooked beef portions and chilli spices worked a treat.
Pomelo Salad
Tom yum gung soup was served next. This had an excellent flavour, was not too not too spicy and packed with prawns and cherry tomatoes. The bowl was deceptively large and so made it very filling soup.
Tom Yum Soup
The fried rice is shown at the foreground of the picture below. The dish came with finely chopped apple, pork floss, salted egg and chicken pieces to the side for it to be mixed up with the rice. This made quite a good combination when all mixed in. 
Bottom - Fried Rice; Top - Lettuce Wrap
The top of the above picture shows lettuce, rice roll and chicken mince. The mince and rice roll are placed in the lettuce, which is then made in a wrap. There was a sauce to accompany that gave it a little spicy kick that was nice. The only comment here is that could have provided slightly more lettuce, unless we did not spoon enough mince into the wrap.

It is not cheap in terms of Thai prices but the food tasted great and all dishes are well presented. Service is friendly, attentive and prompt. Even with the risqué sounding name, the restaurant is not decked out in erotic paraphernalia but modern furnishing. This place is rated the top restaurant in Tripadvisor and it is easy to see why; if you are in this area, definitely eat here.

Scores:
Food: 4/5
Presentation: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Setting: 3/5

Overall: 15/20

Total Bill: 1000THB, about £10 a head.

We ate: All of the above.

We drank: Lime Soda, Young Coconut.

I wore: Shorts and flip flops.