AMBIENCE An elegant setting that provides intimate spots for diners with booth seating. Lunchtime is usually very busy, but in the evening it was quiet.
COST HK$1,050 for two without wine.
WHO TO BRING Clients to impress or family gatherings.
TURN-ONS The signature double-boiled crab meat soup with bamboo pith in young papaya was excellent. The restaurant did not have any wagyu beef, but offered beef short ribs, which were very good with asparagus in a spicy, peppery hoi sin sauce. The beef was very tender, contrasting with the crisp asparagus. A different dish was strips of steamed loofah with vermicelli and topped with fried garlic. The menu had said 'squash', so we were surprised to see a green vegetable. Nevertheless, it was a well-balanced dish that was delicate and tasty. Mango pudding incorporates the cream within the dessert for a refreshing finish.
TURN-OFFS It was a pity the restaurant was out of razor clams I had wanted to sample. I was instead directed to wok-fried sea conch in spicy chilli sauce. It came with crunchy sugar snap peas but, overall, the dish was not particularly outstanding.
DRINKS Wines from around the world and selection of premium teas. BC
The Chinese Restaurant
3/F, Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui
18 Hanoi Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
AMBIENCE Discreet French colonial chic makes for a warm atmosphere, with dark wood flooring, muted yellow walls and birdcages.
COST Roughly HK$800 for two without wine.
WHO TO BRING Business associates or friends and the family for a treat. Tables are too close for romantic conversation.
TURN-ONS The prawn crackers that started the meal came with a well-balanced dipping sauce and an appetiser of rice wrapper rolls (above) came with two powerful sauces, one a seafood sauce and the other a startlingly hot chilli dip (a bonus for this diner). The pomelo salad was refreshing with a good balance of textures coming from crunchy cabbage and sesame seeds. A spicy shredded chicken and cabbage salad was equally well-balanced and the quality of the chicken was superb. There is a wide selection of steamed or grilled rather than fried or even deep-fat fried dishes. Service was attentive.
TURN-OFFS A dish of wok-fried beef with tomatoes was well-cooked, but lacking the flavourful impact of Vietnamese cuisine. My guest and I found a southern Vietnamese prawn curry overcooked and without much taste.
DRINKS A long list of wines, but very little by the glass. MYM
4/F, The Plaza
21 D'Aguilar Street, Central
AMBIENCE The narrow hallway, featuring framed silk embroidered robes, opens into a cavernous, elegant dining area.
COST HK$1,700 for two without wine.
WHO TO BRING Out-of-town guests to impress, clients to seal the deal or families for special occasions.
TURN-ONS The restaurant offers several healthy dishes as well as organic vegetables. We enjoyed the steamed organic eggplants with United States Kurobuta pork with lots of fried garlic. The double-boiled soup of bamboo piths, dried scallop and Yunnan ham and black mushrooms was very tasty, and so was the panfried beef rolls stuffed with enoki mushrooms in a spicy black pepper sauce. Baby spinach was not available but the restaurant substituted with amaranth in a dish braised with crab meat and egg white served in a broth. The vegetables and crab meat were very fresh. For dessert, the chilled mango cream with sago and pomelo was refreshing.
TURN-OFFS The menu gave no indication the baked pumpkin pudding served in a coconut would take at least 20 minutes. In the end, it hardly had much pumpkin taste.
DRINKS Wines from around the world and beers. BC
Celestial Court Chinese Restaurant
Level 2, Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers
20 Nathan Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
RISKS WORTH TAKING
FARE Northern Chinese.
AMBIENCE Very dark for a Chinese restaurant, but it's to show off the harbour view from the 28th floor. Traditional Chinese wooden furniture includes intricately carved screens and heavy doors as decoration.
COST HK$1,600 for two including two glasses of wine.
WHO TO BRING Guests from out of town to impress.
TURN-ONS This restaurant is not afraid to take culinary risks and some turn out well. The braised beef rib wrapped in lotus leaf arrived smelling fragrant. The thick, long slab of meat fell off the bone and was very tender with a subtle flavour from the lotus leaf. Surprise hits were the desserts - Shaoxing rice wine ice cream and Sichuan chilli ice cream.
TURN-OFFS Although it wasn't packed, the place was very noisy due to the hard design elements of the restaurant. The appetiser of cucumber with chilli and vinegar dressing wasn't marinated enough, while the mashed winter melon in scrambled egg white was very healthy but visually not very appetising.
DRINKS New and Old World wines, cocktails and beers. BC
28/F, One Peking Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
FARE Classic Cantonese with healthy dishes.
AMBIENCE Chinoiserie in a modern setting. Although Michelin-starred, the atmosphere is as relaxed and full of chatter and laughter as any good Chinese restaurant should be.
COST Roughly HK$1,500 for two without wine.
WHO TO BRING Someone special, be it a lover, family member or business associate.
TURN-ONS Crispy prawn dumplings were perfectly deep-fried and shredded chicken with jelly fish had excellently poached poultry with a great textural crunch from the jelly fish. Prawns with white asparagus had an earthy appeal, garlicky and with an oniony crunch from the spears. From the iHealth section of the menu, the steamed garoupa with lily bulb contained firm, meaty fish with a delicate flavour, while baked eggplant with lamb was also tasty without being as austere as health food could imply. For dessert, the iced fruit mountain was very refreshing and looked delightful. Service was faultless.
TURN-OFFS Udon noodles with veal didn't quite work for me, despite good elements.
DRINKS Many speciality teas. Wine starts at HK$400 a bottle. MYM
Yan Toh Heen
Lower Level, InterContinental Hong Kong
18 Salisbury Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
TASTE OF THAILAND
FARE Contemporary Thai.
AMBIENCE Inspired by Bangkok's traditional wooden houses, with softly lit Buddhist amulet shapes on the walls, it appears dark inside, especially when venturing up to the first-floor restaurant. The ground-floor bar/eating area opens onto the street.
COST A meal for two with a glass of wine each is about HK$700.
WHO TO BRING Friends, colleagues, lovers of good Thai food.
TURN-ONS The menu has a good selection of popular Thai fare such as tom yum koong soup, shrimp cakes, green curry and prawns in coconut milk. Instead of numbing the taste buds, the chilli is delicate and does not overpower other flavours. Everyone's favourite dessert, sweet sticky rice with coconut milk and fresh mango, is good here. Good vegetarian options.
TURN-OFFS I have walked past here at night thinking it was more of a bar than a restaurant as the bar area gets rather busy. It can be a turn-off for diners having to walk through rowdy drinkers.
DRINKS A good selection of wine from Europe, Australia and South America, and Thai-themed cocktails featuring coconut and mango, plus one that pairs brandy with Thai milk tea. TF
35 Hollywood Road
AMBIENCE Art deco style, with geometric-shaped wooden screens, and a gold and burgundy colour scheme.
COST HK$1,000 for two without wine.
WHO TO BRING Business associates, family gatherings.
TURN-ONS The restaurant offers a 'healthy selection' menu and explains the benefits of each dish. The sauteed water chestnuts with lily bulbs and asparagus was refreshing, while the stewed sea cucumber with bamboo shoots and dried shrimp roe was excellent. The braised sea cucumber absorbed the pungent flavour from the shrimp roe and was tender, the bamboo shoots contrasted with a crunchy texture.
TURN-OFFS One of the chef's recommendations is the poached seasonal vegetables with garoupa fillet in fish stock. We chose yin choi or amaranth as the vegetable was fresh, and the fish was cooked just right. But the broth was on the salty side. For dessert we enjoyed the osmanthus jelly and black date which was more dark brown, but the black sesame dumpling was a misnomer. Though it was black and covered in desiccated coconut, the inside was filled with pomelo and diced mango.
DRINKS There aren't any wines by the glass, but there are wines and Champagne. BC
Level 5, JW Marriott
88 Queensway, Admiralty