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): $$$

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Food Journey #19 -- Tonkichi (丼吉日本吉列專門店餐廳)

The infamous and the well acclaimed BEST TONKATSU in Hong Kong -- Tonkichi in World Trade Center in Causeway Bay. My reason for not reviewing this earlier is that (1) this restaurant does not take any reservations which is surreal and (2) it takes at least 90 mins to wait for a f*eaking table. Enough said but the quality of the Tonkatsu is certainly worth the wait. We choose to go on a Sunday and still had to wait 30 mins!!!!

Tonkatsu (Deep Fried Pork cutlet), was invented in the late 19th century and is one of the most popular dishes in Japan consisting of breaded deep fried pork served with shredded cabbage and miso soup. The pork fillet or loin parts are normally used. The breaded layer cannot be too thick and is usually 1 - 2cm thick.

Some of the signature & highlighted dishes which I want to share with my readers:

a) Tonkatsu with Egg & Don --
The Deep Fried Pork Cutlets was PERFECT, not too dense or greasy which is the way I like it. The eggs and seaweed are a perfect pairing with the deep fried pork cutlets and this dish is highly recommended on a Sunday for sure. On the side, it also includes shredded cabbage which you have a choice of a Seaweed Vinegar Sauce or a Yuzu Vinegrette. I highly recommend the Seaweed Vinegar Vingrette as it is so refreshing and delicious with the cabbage. Save your stomach space as the cabbage is a FREE REFILL therefore plenty of veggies for the meal. Go easy on the vinegrette as we finished 4 pots full of Seaweed Vinegar Sauce

b) Mixed Platter of Tonkatsu & Deep Fried Prawns --
Traditional method in eating Tonkatsu is with a Japanese style Worcestershire Sauce which I personally did not find the taste appealing at all therefore plentiful of spicy powder for me. The Deep Friend Prawns & are just normal therefore I do not have much to say as I prefer above Prawns in sashimi format therefore it does not have the same attraction to moi. Again, this platter comes with a bowl of rice (which you can enjoy unlimited refill), plateful of shredded cabbage (unlimited refill) & Miso Soup.

b) Deep Fried Giant Jumbo Prawn (a la carte)
-- Now, I was actually quite full after eating Part A and I was distracted by this lovely looking big boy. Imagine a 30cm Deep Fried Jumbo Prawn, can you picture it?? To be honest, the taste was very bland but I purely ordered it because I just wanted to conquer this little beast and it was quite a task in doing due to the size of the jumbo prawn.

Overall, this Sunday lunch was very filling and very high caloried for sure. Taste was superb and especially loved the free refill on the shredded cabbage & rice. I can see why it was worth the 30 min wait and no reservations allowed. Highly recommend this restaurant if you want some good & delicious authentic Tonkatsu!!

4/f, World Trade Center, 280 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong(銅鑼灣告士打道280號世貿中心412室)
Tel: 2577 6617

Food Quality
(5* the highest): ****

Price for lunch
(5$ = very expensive): $$$

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Burger Challenge this Sunday

I want to say that this is not going to be a food review or posting but however, I want to let you all readers now that I will be undergoing a Triple Whopper Challenge at Burger King this weekend as this has been on my hit list of 100 things to accomplish!

Look at the photos below and please wish me luck as I will definitely need this. I personally do not think I will need to eat for the next 3 days!

Triple Whooper Challenge!

Happy Eating!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Food Journey #18 - Crystal Jade Xiao Long Bao (翡翠拉麵小籠包)

Am always a regular at this hot-spot in Times Square on the basement floor for some simple Shanghainese dumplings & noodles on the weekends. Always try to avoid the weekdays as it is virtually impossible to get a table in the Times Square location & the IFC location.

Crystal Jade was originated from Singapore and first moved into Hong Kong on 2002. 8 locations all over Hong Kong and in general, the quality of the dishes are good and authentic. 4 of us visited Crystal Jade on Saturday and we ordered our usual dishes:

a) Deep Fried Eel -- not my personal favourite and it actually tastes like twiglets. In fact, it is deep fried eel with Shanghainese Soy Sauce. Very crispy texture but very odd fishy taste if you ask me!

b) Drunken Chicken (醉雞) -- One of the signature dishes on the menu and as I have recommended such dish in several reviews, it is simply chicken which is marinated in Chinese wine and served cold. The chicken which they use in Crystal Jade is "organic" -- apparently so but only costed $60 for this which I was highly doubtful. Nonetheless, the chicken was very good and the meat texture was very tender and sweet.

c) Xiao Lun Bao (Steamed Pork Dumplings) -- Another signature dish at Crystal Jade and one of the most traditional Chinese national snacks or dishes -- How Pork Dumplings didnt make it to the Top 50 dishes, I am puzzled. The Xiao Lun Bao is very juicy, and the most important point is that it was extremely hot when it arrived. However, I dont think the quality is as good as the dumplings I tried in Taipei (read Food Journey #11 in Taipei)

d) Various Noodles Dishes -- We ordered the sweet & sour soup with noodles, traditional Shanghainese Noodles with Fried Pork Cutlets + my personal favourite Spicy Szechuan Broth Beef Noodles. If you like something to spice up your start to the weekend, the Spicy SzeChuan Broth Noodles is so riduclously spicy that it makes you cough and you will be tears the next second. You dont want to know how much chilli there are in this bowl of soup but it definitely give you a good kicking. The noodle texture is very fine and all noodles are fresh made and you can see the kitchen staff working their b*lls off inside the steaming hot kitchen. Another special mention must be the deep fried pork cutlet, not greasy and perfect meat texture!

If you like something simple, authentic & cheap, this is the place for you. Food is well flavoured, seasoned, traditional and definitely NON pretentious. Highly recommend my readers to visit the outlet in Causeway Bay instead of the IFC location as it is impossible to get a table on regular basis. Definitely one of my favourite spots in Hong Kong to enjoy a simple, casual and pleasant meal.

Address: B221, Times Square, Matheson Street, Causeway Bay(銅鑼灣勿地臣街1號時代廣場地庫 B221A )

Tel: 2506 0080

Food Quality (5* the highest): ***1/2

Price for lunch (5$ = very expensive): $