German deli hits the spot

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 May, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 May, 1999, 12:00am

You do not have to be German or a schnitzel aficionado to get the most out of Delicatessen Corner - but it helps. One of Hong Kong's few German restaurants, it must be hitting the spot, as the place is popular with German expatriates.

What Delicatessen Corner lacks in atmosphere, it makes up for with its food. An attempt has been made to create the feel of a German tavern with wood-panelled walls and wooden chairs and tables. It is in the basement of the Holiday Inn, which means there are no windows. The ceiling is low and the lighting dim, but ultimately there's no mistaking it for anything other than a hotel restaurant.

It is the little touches that let it down, such as the televisions mounted in the corners of the restaurant. Presumably these are provided for the benefit of those dining solo, and as Delicatessen Corner is on Tsim Sha Tsui's main street, there are a number of tourists and business people eating alone. Although the televisions are turned on, the sound has been cut, which makes it difficult to see their entertainment value.

The far end of the restaurant overlooks the kitchen. It is always reassuring to see chefs going about their business, however, this kitchen is not of the aesthetic variety. That is not to suggest it doesn't look hygienic, far from it, simply that the stainless-steel counters dividing the cooking and consumption areas are not particularly attractive.

But moving on to what Delicatessen Corner does best - the food. For those unfamiliar with German cuisine, there is a strong emphasis on meat - particularly sausages and schnitzel (meat cutlets) - cheese and potatoes.

There are two menus - one in English, the other in German, which bears testament to the restaurant's success among German expatriates.

It is schnitzel season at Delicatessen Corner at the moment and there are eight to choose from. Other specialties include pork knuckle ($98) and calf's liver 'Berlin' ($110). Sausages are central to German cuisine and more than half a dozen are on offer, including a foot-long Frankfurter ($92) and cheese krainer sausages ($88), which are made of beef and cheese.

We began with mushroom soup ($45) which was deliciously creamy with delicate flavouring and served with warm, fresh bread.

The schnitzel just had to be tried and my dining companion opted for veal schnitzel 'Florence' ($105). The schnitzel was served on a bed of sundried-tomato rice with spinach and topped with gorgonzola cheese. The schnitzel lived up to expectations and the spinach was fresh. While it is unlikely that men in Lederhosen have been eating sundried-tomato rice for decades, it was nevertheless an interesting twist to the rice.

Traditional German fare is a vegetarian's nightmare, but Delicatessen Corner has spared a thought for non-meat eaters and tucked at the bottom of the menu is a small section entitled 'Healthy Habits'. Among the half-dozen vegetarian dishes are spinach dumplings ($65), which looked divine.

Although tempted by the dumplings, I opted for the sole ($85). As with all the main dishes, it was well presented on a large white plate which made it appear deceptively small. The fish was melt-in-the-mouth tender, served on a bed of tomato and spinach and topped with white burgundy sauce.

Delicatessen Corner is not cheap, but the food is excellent and you definitely get your money's worth. The only complaint that could possibly be levelled against our meal was that it was so filling we had no room left for dessert.

Instead we opted for cappuccino ($32) and took the opportunity to window shop in the delicatessen.

The take-away deli counter must be among the best in Hong Kong.

It came as no surprise that there was a wide variety of schnitzels, which no doubt make this the perfect antidote to homesickness for those in the German community. The cheese selection was impressive and there was an equally good choice of breads. And what with the heavenly hand-made chocolates, this deli was an exciting find on Nathan Road.

Delicatessen Corner, Holiday Inn Golden Mile, Basement, 50 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Tel: 2315-1020, Open: 7.30am-midnight