the holidays are coming (!!), and I bet quite a few of you will be making your way over to hong kong, an asian first world mecca. I was there in april with a girlfriend, and we had resolved to eat too much, spend too much and buy too much – and also, we had resolved to spend the time like expats.
it’s not really the usual mode to enjoy hong kong – travellers usually go all berserk on dimsum and roast meats and wanton noodles (coming up in the next post!) – but hong kong has a plethora of amazing dining options that extend past that.
this chichi brunchy place is filled with business people and yummy mummies alike, with servers that speak english so fluently you know who their clientele are. the lunch set comes with a one-time go at the antipasti bar, where you get a bowl to fill however you’d like with a variety of interesting mixed salads and plain greens – if you’re greedy (note bowl above), you’ll find heretofore unknown architectural ability in yourself to stack as much of their delicious salads as you can.
the main courses are also pretty delicious; my choice of seared beef steak done properly pink and served alongside a lightly dressed salad. it’s a three-course set that comes with dessert, but we were stuffed by the time the vanilla-y creme brulee arrived with its hard sugar shell.
a very good lunch deal, though the low table we sat at near the antipasti bar is suited more to cocktails than lunch – that squashing of the stomach does nothing for digestion.
le jardin de joël robuchon
we stopped by for tea at robuchon in the mandarin oriental, with its counter of pastries and extravagant petit fours. we settled for a pistachio and raspberry one: pale-green, light mousse outside holding a pink interior. very pretty, very ephemeral – but it was more okay than fantastic.
the space is made up of a couple tables along the shopping corridor, which is both good and bad – there are loads of passers-by and loiterers staring hard at you so you vacate the table, but you also get to avoid any overt formality you might otherwise associate with the robuchon name.
pretty expensive, but doable for a slightly more involved teatime.
this place, I didn’t quite like – and I don’t think it worth all that new york hype surrounding it, though there were some pretty-darn-good dishes, like brussel sprouts charred with shallots and garlic (OHMYGAWD I could eat brussel sprouts forever), and fries that were well-seasoned and fried till crisp and golden (almost as good as long john silver’s, which I think already fantastic).
but their signature buns – almost the entire menu is buns of some sort, which is sort of overkill – were pretty meh. the steamed ones were dense and filling, and rather too thick for its relatively skinny filling of some fried meat or another – and even the dessert was ice-cream between buns (not bad, for at least they used a fried bun here). I don’t know about you, but there’s only so much bread I want to eat at a go.
there was also a mentaiko mac-and-cheese, but it was too creamy and wet (like a soup) – not quite what I’d call a good rendition. the place is packed, and the queues get longer as the sun sets – and I’d venture that you’d be better off eating at yardbird down the road (even though it has even longer waiting times).
the flying pan
this place is done up all like a retro american diner, complete with blue tiled walls reminiscent of the ’50s. the menus a little crinkled and grimey, but the choices are firm breakfast classics – all variations of eggs with an infinite permutation of sides – and it’s served up without fanfare.
quite comforting, and nothing fanciful – the bread is buttered and properly-toasted, the beans are out a can, and eggs are poached just right.
we settled down for an easy dinner one night at itacho, which is everywhere.
there really isn’t anything to say about this place that you don’t expect already – the standard is good enough for a weekday night dinner, but nothing startling or exceptional. I was pleasantly surprised at the fattiness of the grilled salmon belly pieces that arrived at the table – but really, this place is really a decent conveyor belt sushi place.
ok, this one, I expected to be much better than it was. I have fond memories of eating at zuma in london, where it is the hangout of celebrities and all manner of dressed up brits, the place is posh and the food delicious. step into zuma hong kong, and you realise that although this is still pretty glamorous, the food isn’t really nearly as good.
service is a little – shall we say, politely enthusiastic but aloof, and the place just feels a little cold to me. we had a couple of their lunch sets, and while the famed cod is still pretty delicious, I feel like the food isn’t quite worth the price (and more importantly, not worth the limited stomach space I had for hong kong). skip this one, and try the other restaurants in the mandarin!
restaurant details coming up!