the hinata diaries

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hong Kong recap part 1

Got back from Hong Kong on Sunday evening, in time for dinner with my folks. Trip was short but productive - hung out with my in-laws, did a spot of good eating and finished all the necessary Christmas shopping (I am eternally grateful to whoever created Shanghai Tang).

Food review coming up, but quick disclaimer: while it's fun to write this blog and post pics, some basic instincts really cannot be overcome, the most basic of which is - eat first and think about everything else later! So you'll see a lot of the pics tend to be of half-empty plates with details sorely missing. What to do?

[SOMETHING SOMETHING] Barbecue Restaurant

Prime example: first meal of the trip was at a roast meats restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui. Didn't write down name of restaurant ([something something] Barbecue Restaurant) and didn't remember the street name either (one of the small streets that joins Chatham Road South with Nathan Road I think). It was a completely random choice but a good one, since the place was filled with a continuous stream of locals, some of whom did look straight out of a Hong Kong movie. Ordered soy sauce chicken, char siew and roast duck, plus a plate of greasy Yangzhou Fried Rice. Pic!


This was more of a refreshment stop than a meal, as we had decided to take a tram ride up Victoria Peak for the afternoon. I've heard lots of good things about this restaurant from friends in Hong Kong and, upon visiting, the place did seem a bit of a Hong Kong institution, with Cafe Deco t-shirts on sale at the entrance and a wall of framed awards. The open kitchens, in particular, the Indian kitchen with its tandoori oven, churned out some fantastic smells, but we were still stuffed from lunch and stuck to coffee and ice cream. Philippe and I shared a banana split, which disappeared too fast to be photographed. Here's a picture of the entrance instead:

YUNG KEE (aka The Emotional Roller Coaster of a Meal)

Friday night dinner was at Yung Kee. Realized in the morning that I should've made a reservation, given that it was a Friday night, but by then it was too late - the earliest available table was at 9pm! It so happened though, that we were walking around Lan Kwai Fong in the late afternoon, and my in-laws were hoping for an early dinner/sleep having just arrived that morning, so we tried out luck and managed to get a table at 6.15pm . Unfortunately, having had all the roast meats during lunch, none of us were really in the mood to try the signature roast goose. We tried to have a light meal instead, with mixed results. The "complimentary" starter (complimentary in the same way that peanuts and towels are complimentary, i.e. it's on your table whether you like it or not and you're charged for it) was century egg with pickled ginger. Don't know if you can tell from the picture, but the egg yolk is really runny, and the ginger is thick cut, compared to the usual Japanese slivers.

As expected, this was not the biggest hit with the in-laws, who managed to have one slice of egg between them. Philippe wasn't touching his. So out of foolish determination to not waste food (a recurring theme that causes my fellow diners no end of grief), I managed to stuff down three slices of egg on my own. Warning: do not try this at home. Plus runny century egg is infinitely more gag-inducing than regular century egg. Even remembering the experience is making me feel queasy, onwards!

We first ordered a steamed fish and braised ee-fu noodles. After a good 15 minutes of re-reading the various menus from cover to cover, we finally decided to add a sliced beef with spring onions and ginger. The beef arrived fairly quickly, and while it did taste very delicate, Philippe wasn't a big fan of the heavily tenderized texture, likening it to the beef being 'watery'. I couldn't disagree, except that it's probably something Chinese diners are pretty used to.

The beef was followed with a 30 minute wait for the fish and noodles, which was quite surprising since the restaurant has obviously been around for quite a while and service had been pretty efficient up to that point. The hostess, while seating us, also requested us to finish our dinner within the hour as the table was reserved for 7pm. This plus the fact that we were tired and/or jetlagged did not make for a happy wait. But all fatigue and frustration melted away when the dishes finally arrived.

(Like I said, eat first, take picture later, hence the fish photo). The garoupa was really great, very much akin to the Singapore version but faultlessly executed, and the ee-fu noodles are probably the best I've ever had, light with a faint smoky taste and almost devoid of oil.

Dessert was the ubiquitous mango pudding, a generous portion that wasn't ground breaking but well done enough to not leave room for much complaint.

By the end of the meal, we were feeling pretty satisfied with the combination of good food and having checked off our first restaurant to-do. Even the long wait for the food had become a distant memory. So, ready to roll off, we asked for the bill, and then....

(important life lesson coming up)

... found out the stupid fish cost HK$750!!! That's S$150+ for a garoupa for four people! This came as an unpleasant surprise - the menu had stated 'market price' and Philippe and I hadn't really thought twice of it since in Singapore it's rare that you get taken advantage of by that, but we really did regret not asking then. So great was our disbelief that we reacted the only way possible in such shocking circumstances: call mommy! (Yes, it warranted an international roaming call). My mom's reaction though was a lot less sympathetic and much closer to uncontrollable laughter. Her laughter was later echoed by the Hong Kong family friends at our Christmas dinner back in Singapore, who reminded us between guffaws that we should be glad we only ordered a garoupa and not some rare, potentially endangered exotic species, which would have set us back thousands of dollars. Fair enough I suppose. Lesson learned!!!


  • I saw Sr. George Bush here few yrs ago and tried I first snake soup without knowing what it was !!!! Thanks to my Chinese friends ~

    By Blogger Jean, At 10:38 AM  

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