Saturday, 19 September 2009

Food Journey #20 - Hunan Garden (洞庭樓)

Ever since a certain credit card introduced this half price deal for lunch and dinner, we have visited Hunan Garden on a few occasions. Conveniently located on 13F of Times Square where good old Shooters 52 used to be, this has become one of my favourite comfort food joints in Causeway Bay!
The name Hunan Garden represents Hunan Cuisine which is one of the 8 traditional cuisines in China and is known for its spicy flavoured dishes and fresh aroma. Expect plenty of peppers, chilli, garlic, ginger being used in all majority of dishes. Traditional Hunan cuisine will tend to start off with cold spicy dishes follow by hot spicy dishes, soup & main courses. There are plenty of similarities between Sze Chuan and Hunan Cuisine due to the fact that it contains many spicy dishes. So, if you are mad about chilli & spicy flavours, this is your place for sure
Our meal started off with a traditional Hunan Style Spicy Vinegar JellyFish served cold (see photo below) which is one of my favourite appetiser as the texture of jellyfish is extremely chewy and the spicy flavours open up your tastebuds for your next course. This is a perfect dish during a hot summer in Hong Kong. For those that are jellyfish fans, these are the head of the jellyfish (海蜇頭) which is a more expensive part in comparsion to regular jellyfish
Next up, below is one of my most highly recommended dish in Hunan Garden, If you like very very spicy food, this is your dish -- **Hunan Style Stir Fried Prawns with Chilli Paste and Fresh Chilli (see below photo). The prawns were large, fresh and in very generous portion and the chilli sauce that pairs with the prawns is perfecto. If you like a challenge, give yourself a dry to have a go at eating one of the dry chilli on the side as you will be flying afterwards. This is also a very good dish to go with steamed rice.
Next up, here comes the real deal. Okay, Peking Duck (北京填鸭) is not a very traditional Hunan Dish but we were "sold" by the waitress that the Peking Duck at this premise is a signature dish therefore we gave it a shot. See below photos of the Before & After of the Peking Duck.
Peking Duck is literally the symbol of Chinese cuisine and it has been served since the imperial era. Basically comprises of crispy duck skin with thinly sliced meat and is mostly eaten with fresh baked pan cakes, hoisin sauce (seafood sauce) or plum sauce & spring onions. Traditionally, the duck is sliced and carved in front of the diners but however we did not have such spectacle during the evening as the restaurant was extremely full. The sauce is smothered all over the pancake and is wrapped with the meat and eaten by hand. For those that are conscious about their calories, this is definitely NOT your dish but the Peking Duck in Hunan Garden was so so good that I had a total of 6 wraps!
Second main course of the evening was San Choy Bao (Lettuce wrap with Sliced Duck Meat , cashew nuts and fresh bell-peppers). The duck meat was from the left overs from the Peking Duck above and is simply stir fried with cashew nuts, garlic and fresh bell-peppers. Diners should spoon the mixture into the lettuce cup and eat it as a wrap which is a very refreshing dish as the lettuce is nice, cold & crisp. To be honest, I wasnt paying too much attention to this dish as was absolutely stuffed from the Peking Duck.
If you are a dessert fan and are tired of the usual desserts in various restaurants around town ie ice-cream, gateaus, pies etc , Lo Ta Kwun (金陵驢打滾) is a MUST TRY from Hunan Garden. Definitely my top 5 dessert in Hong Kong and is essentially a Mochi with Peanut Shavings, Sugar, Sesame & shredded Coconut . Crispy texture on the outside but yet nice & soft on the inner and note that each individual size of the Lo Ta Kwun is fairly large therefore do reserve some space for this. I was extremely full but still managed to have 2 of those babies! Overall, another very enjoyable meal at Hunan Garden and will definitely return very soon. If you are an expat living in Hong Kong and would like to try out some authetic Chinese cuisine, this is a highly recommended venue. If you are an Amercian Express card-holder, enjoy the whopping discount and enjoy this extremely affordable yet delicious meal.
Happy Eating & drinking as always!
Address: 13F, Times Square, Matheson Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong (銅鑼灣勿地臣街1號 時代廣場食通天13樓1302號)
Tel: 2506 9288
Food Quality (5* the highest): **** Price for lunch (5$ = very expensive): $$$

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