Tag Archives: Hong Kong

Ho Lee Fook, Hong Kong

I found myself in Hong Kong for work recently and a bunch of us headed over to Ho Lee Fook in the lively Soho district.  I’d heard good things about the creations of Taiwanese chef Jowett Yu, who spent some time at Sydney at Tetsuya and Mr Wongs, among others. Head down the stairs past the peacocks and waving cats and the basement dining space awaits – dark but with some bright wall lights.

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There is plenty on the menu that looks inviting and it is hard to decide what to order.   Our friendly server tells us that night they have the crispy skin chicken as a special – usually it needs to be ordered in advance – and tells us there is only one serve left.  When we say we’ll take it, she does an Olympic worthy sprint to notify the kitchen so someone else doesn’t grab it. That’s what you call service. Once back, we give her our other choices and ask what she thinks.  “How hungry are you”, she says, “because you really should add the beef short rib”.  It is their signature dish she tells us, so it needs to be done.

There’s also a pretty impressive whiskey menu if you’re in for a big night.

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We start with Mom’s “mostly cabbage, a little bit of pork” dumplings with a sacha soy dressing.  These are plain yum with a nice chunky texture inside.

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Then onto a unusual dish of grilled calamari, with a very clever touch of delicious quid ink onion jam, XO sauce, shishito peppers, and some spiced pumpkin seeds giving some texture. I did find it a little dry though, a drizzle of something over the octopus would have helped.

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Simply done stir-fried greens – asparagus, broccoli, sugar snap peas – ensured that we felt sufficiently virtuous. So too did the twice-cooked green beans with pickled turnips, five-spiced tofu, Chinese olive; the beans had nice freshness and crunch.

Next came the Kurobuta pork char-siu.  When we ordered this we were asked “lean or fat” – we opted for the lean but it was still juicy and very very tasty.

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The shell fish oil was very distinct in the prawn lo mein, so a good dish for those who like robust flavours.

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The special crispy skin chicken arrives. It has this slightly sour crumb sprinkled over it, I am not sure what it was but I loved it and the texture it added.

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Then came the signature roast Wagyu short ribs.  Knock out dish, adored the jalapeño purée and the green shallot kimchi it came with.

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The deserts coming out looked great, but alas there was no capacity after that feast!

Ho Lee Fook,  1 Elgin St,  Hong Kong, Ph +852 2810 0860
http://holeefookhk.tumblr.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Three Michelin Star Italian? Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong

It has taken me a few months to write this post up, which I suppose tells you something. I was in Hong Kong for a couple of days last December, and after a busy day of meetings, a few colleagues and I decided to try the Three Michelin Starred Otto e Mezzo Bombana, so named after Federico Fellini’s 1963 movie, and executive Chef Umberto Bombana.   It’s the only Italian restaurant outside of Italy to get three whole sparkles, so I was expecting big things. It is in a shopping centre which does make for somewhat of an odd window view if you sit in that section of the restaurant; in Australian shopping centre fine dining has failed miserably.  But in places like Hong Kong, a city of giant interconnecting malls and hotels, that is where you’ll find a lot of the high end eats. There is an a la carte menu but most opt for the degustation, as did we. I wouldn’t call it traditional Italian, rather Italian influenced.

There were moments of brilliance, but only moments, and for A$280 each with only one glass of wine, we do much better in Sydney. Service was faultless which took it up a notch, but I doubt Jill Dupleix and Terry Durack would hand over three toques so readily.   So here was our menu:

Broccoli puree with house mortadella. Interesting combination – good as an amuse bouche – don’t think a big serve would have workedottoemezzo (2)

Seared red tuna with fennel pollen, tomato and citrus emulsion, calvisius elite caviar. Looked pretty, but unremarkable flavour. ottoemezzo (3)

Fresh porcini salad. I love fresh porcini, which had no doubt been flown in at great expense (this was an extra dish we ordered and not part of the degustation). I thought it had some kind of tiny egg on it, but it was actually a curd which I thought was unnecessary. ottoemezzo (4)

Artisanal trenette – scampi and Mediterranean flavour. I’m not quite sure what the “Mediterranean flavour” consisted of but this dish tasted strangely sweet, almost like it had sugar in it. Odd. One of our non-scampi-eating group had the ragu, and I had order envy – that smelt devine.ottoemezzo (5)

Roast blue lobster – winer salad, topinambur (that’s Jerusalem artichoke for the layman), lobster and mushroom jus. Nothing special here, the quality of the lobster was disappointing.ottoemezzo (6)

Maruya beef sirloin signature series – roast root, aromatic herbs and natural jus. Outstanding beef, perfectly cooked. Finally we’re talking.ottoemezzo (7)

Montebianco – marron ice cream, meringue and Chantilly. Loved this dessert, original, not too sweet, just the right size, good texturally. We end on a high note. What I did find odd is that an Italian restaurant would use marron in the name, the French word for chestnut, rather than castagna.ottoemezzo (8)   The price included some (fairly pedestrian) petit fours and tea and coffee.ottoemezzo (9)

Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Shop 202, Landmark Alexandra, 18 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong, Ph +852 2537 8859

http://www.ottoemezzobombana.com

Three Michelin Star Chinese? Lung King Heen, Hong Kong

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I’m thinking that if a restauarant is Three Michelin star, then, as we’d expect from a Three Hatter in Sydney, it has to be the whole package – unbelievable service, a beautiful room, and sublime food.  Can a Chinese restaurant, often associated with a casual and cheap meal, deliver the package? For Australian readers, I suppose the benchmark has to be Melbourne’s Flower Drum.

The view is indeed beautiful looking out across the river, but the restaurant space itself is nothing memorable. There is a good amount of space between tables so you don’t have to hear your neighbour’s conversation (in Hong Kong this is probably priceless given the tiny apartments they live in!) As I sit down the waiters provide a little stand for my handbag, so it doesn’t have to sit on the floor, which is a nice touch. And the service, while pleasant, does not have the finesse and extravagance of Flower Drum.

On the menu that night:

Amuse bouche (not sure what the Chinese equivalent of that is so going with French!) of fried bean curd – surprisingly delicious

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Wok-Fried Prawns with Fresh Crab Meat in Spicy Sauce.  This is a fantastic dish – flavoursome rather than knock-you-out heat, tender crab, large prawns; I wanted to sabotage the lazy Susan so it couldn’t reach anyone else. Also, see the little condiments tray in the background – they contain sauces which are certainly Michelin-worthy, especially the XO sauce (in fact it has received its own award!).

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Roasted Eggplant and Scallops in Spicy Plum Sauce. The eggplant was slightly undercooked making it chewy, and the sauce was a little on the sweet side.

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Sautéed Duck with Hazelnut and Ginger.  I was looking forward to this, and it was really disappointing.  The duck was tough and the flavour was nothing special.

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But the Wok-Fried Lamb Shin with chilli was fantastic, well flavoured and tender.

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Next, Stir-Fried Minced Vegetables with Nuts in Lettuce Wraps, which was also delicious and came with a great seafood sauce to put on top.

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Then Lung King Heen Lobster Fried Rice with Seafood – awesome fried rice.

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Then a noodle type dish – wok-Fried Rice Rolls in X.O. Chilli Sauce.  We reach another high in this dish, reminds me of top notch hawker style noodles with a great hit of chilli.

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For dessert, its Chilled Mango and Sago Cream with Pomelo.  All this really tasted like was pureed mango.  That didn’t stop it from being delicious, but if you’re after sago texture and flavour there’s not much of it.

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So was this what I would perceive as a Three Michelin Star – probably not (maybe two!!), but it is still damn good Chinese with a spectacular harbour view.

Lung King Heen, Four Seasons Hong Kong, Ph (852) 3196-8888

http://www.fourseasons.com/hongkong/dining/restaurants/lung_king_heen/