AMBIENCE Large dining room area with contemporary Western decor that includes red and orange glass coral hanging from the ceiling.
COST HK$1,095 for two with tea.
WHO TO BRING Family gatherings or a group of friends.
TURN-ONS The signature shredded boneless chicken (above) was excellent and very tender. We also liked the marinated duck tongues that were full of flavour. The duo of steamed tofu, one side topped with garlic shrimp, the other with scallop in black bean sauce, was delicious. The braised rice with conpoy and assorted meat in abalone sauce in lotus leaf was also tops, very moist and every bite was full of ingredients. The braised shredded fish maw and shredded duck soup had a hint of tangerine peel and was very hearty. The walnut cream dessert had a roasted taste, while the double-boiled fresh milk was smooth and not too sweet.
TURN-OFFS The huge half-portion of roast goose was tough. The staff offered to change the dish. Braised pomelo peel with shrimp roe and broccoli retained too much water, while the crispy water chestnut rolls were too greasy.
DRINKS A selection of wines and teas. BC
TSUI HANG VILLAGE
5/F, MIRAMAR SHOPPING CENTRE, 132 NATHAN ROAD
TSIM SHA TSUI, KOWLOON
AMBIENCE Contemporary and stylish with glass-covered open kitchen. The spacious dining area allows tables to be a good distance apart.
COST About HK$1,000 for two with a bottle of wine.
WHO TO BRING Friends, colleagues and the love interest.
TURN-ONS The choices of classic and authentic fine-dining dishes from regions such as Goa - fish curry in hot piquant coconut sauce and chicken vindaloo - and central India with a selection of tawa dishes. Good starters to share are the vegetarian or non-vegetarian platters. A must-try main dish is the chicken tikka lababdar in a rich onion and tomato gravy or mahi sunehri, chunks of mackerel cooked in assorted peppers and freshly ground garlic in an aromatic gravy. The range of vegetarian dishes is wide and the classic palak paneer does not disappoint. The ingredients are fresh, enhancing the flavours in each dish. Desserts include mango kulfi, which comes with sweet vermicelli, and other well-known favourites. The staff are professional and friendly, and keen to recommend and explain dishes and flavours, and wines.
TURN OFFS The occasional drip from an overhead vent onto the table.
DRINKS A good selection of red and white wines from Italy, New Zealand and other regions are available. TF
4/F, 77 WYNDHAM STREET, CENTRAL
AMBIENCE The subtlety of burgundy and the grandeur of gold - the two colours that dominate the dining room - create an air of subdued sophistication in the two-storey restaurant. Surrounded by beautiful sculptures, attended by impeccably trained staff, and with plenty of space between tables to allow for a private dining experience, one is forgiven for feeling like royalty.
COST HK$990 for two.
WHO TO BRING Clients to impress or close family members.
TURN-ONS The chicken casserole was infused with the distinct flavours of garlic, spring onion and chilli, and the tender and succulent meat pieces were done to a turn. The crab claws, made of minced crab meat, were firm in texture and seasoned to perfection. The vegetable dish - braised Chinese mushrooms and young, green asparagus - was equally impressive. The flavoursome Chinese mushrooms and the refreshing asparagus were an excellent match. Service was exceptional: waiters were courteous and attentive, always pouring tea and clearing away used plates at the right time.
TURN-OFFS One of the two appetisers we had, deep fried cuttlefish, was rather bland. The red bean coconut dessert pudding would have been better with a strong red bean taste.
DRINKS Offers an extensive selection of wines and beverages. NT
2/F, LANGHAM HOTEL HONG KONG, 8 PEKING ROAD,
TSIM SHA TSUI, KOWLOON
TOURIST HOT SPOT
AMBIENCE The atmosphere is like that of a fast-food, local restaurant with people crowding outside to get a seat.
COST About HK$800 for two with drinks.
WHO TO BRING The place was full of families and mostly mainland tourists drifting in from nearby Mong Kok and Jordan. There were also a smattering of locals from nearby housing estates.
TURN-ONS We started with asparagus with ham, dill and egg yolk dressing. The asparagus was fresh and crunchy, and the greens and dressing combined well with ham. Another starter that caught our eye and taste buds was sausage salad with onions, pickles, eggs, potatoes, lettuce and Emmental cheese. We thought the portions were on the small side. We were disappointed with the main dish, roasted chicken with potatoes (above). The chicken was dry on the inside and the skin was not as crunchy as expected. We were told by staff that their roasted pork knuckle with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut is the hottest-selling dish.
TURN-OFFS The mall location means the restaurant is reluctant to take a booking as its main clientele are residents and tourists.
DRINKS A good selection of German beer, together with rieslings, pinot noirs and a variety of other red and white wines. MM
SHOP G18, G/F, OLYMPIAN CITY 3
1 HOI WANG ROAD
TAI KOK TSUI
TASTE OF SINGAPORE
AMBIENCE A mix of modern and traditional Chinese, featuring bright colours, bird-cage lighting and Chinese murals.
COST HK$429 for dinner for two, including non-alcoholic drinks.
WHO TO BRING The busy, bustling restaurant is a good spot for casual dining with friends on a week night.
TURN-ONS We started off with a portion of deep-fried tofu drizzled with a sauce made from tangy mushrooms. Crispy on the outside and smooth and silky inside, the fragrant tofu cubes came as a pleasant surprise. The seafood laksa was rich and delightful, packed with flavours and gave off an earthy aroma. The Hainan chicken rice (above) was fine - the lean meat would suit the taste of the health-conscious diner. However, the rice was slightly overcooked and the chilli sauce a tad too light, possibly as an adaptation to the local palate.
TURN-OFFS Expecting an elegant setting of which a shao ye - a young man who appreciates sophisticated styles - would approve, we were disappointed with the closeness of the tables and the noise. My friend had to speak at the top of her voice to order. Neither were we happy about the near-30-minute wait for the dessert, purple rice in sweet soup.
DRINKS Serves a range of Singaporean beverages and hot Chinese tea. NT
HAINAN SHAO YE
SHOP P311, 3/F, WORLD TRADE CENTRE
FARE Modern Shanghainese
AMBIENCE A sexy setting from the moment you step inside. A mix of open and semi-private dark-wood dining areas turns the space into a maze to be discovered with the city skyline adding to the mix.
WHO TO BRING Tourists, couples, families.
COST HK$1,800 for a tasting menu with matching wines for two.
TURN-ONS The drunken chicken in Shaoxing wine (above), a fermented yellow liquor made from rice, is a highlight. Served cold, it had a silky skin, moist flesh and a subtle sweetness from the alcoholic marinade. The marinated jellyfish, finely julienned with golden melon, was a light, refreshing dish to contrast the spicy chicken with asparagus, a thin slice of chicken wrapped around a light green spear on a generous dollop of chilli sauce. The seafood hot and sour soup had the requisite balance of sour and heat, but I couldn't distinguish the seafood. The steamed whole spotted grouper atop egg white was well-cooked with subtle flavours. The xiao long bao was good but cheaper versions around town offer a more translucent skin.
TURN-OFFS Some courses were served too quickly and there were several changes to the tasting menu that were not announced.
DRINKS Extensive selection of Old and New World wines. LL
XIAO NAN GUO AT ONE PEKING
10/F, 1 PEKING ROAD, TSIM SHA TSUI
AMBIENCE Traditional 1930s Egyptian decor with soft lighting from hanging brass lanterns over sofas strewn with velvet and silk cushions, makes for a cosy, cavernous and comfortable space. There are small, intimate nooks and alcoves for small family gatherings. Friday and Saturdays feature a belly dancer.
COST About HK$800 for a couple with drinks.
WHO TO BRING Friends, family and the love interest.
TURN-ONS To start, there are hot or cold mezze such as falafel, dawud basha - Egyptian meatballs tossed in dill and tomato sauce - and more. Spring baby chicken (above) stuffed with dried apricots, figs and raisins cooked in pomegranate sauce is a signature main dish, as is the sea bass marinated in dakka dressing and baked in a crispy cornmeal crust. For dessert, baked pumpkin with whipped cream and almonds and home-made baklawa and konafa with fresh cream washed down with fresh mint tea is recommended.
TURN-OFFS The dim lighting makes it difficult to read the small-print menu.
DRINKS International wines from Egypt, Turkey, Israel, Italy, France and Australia. TF
1/F GRAND PROGRESS BUILDING
15-16 LAN KWAI FONG