WARM welcome

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 September, 2011, 12:00am

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STATELY SURROUNDINGS

While Tin Lung Heen doesn't have the stunning Victoria Harbour view enjoyed by Tosca, at least the decor is more stately with its towering collection of ceramics and red swirling chandeliers.

The menu tries to look thicker than it is, but all the main Cantonese dishes and some specialities are there.

The double-boiled duck soup with cordyceps and ginseng was a clear, flavourful broth, but came out lukewarm. We asked for the steamed crab claw with egg white in hua diao wine but it was sold out, so we settled for the baked crab shell filled with fresh crabmeat and onions that was above average. The presentation of the braised bamboo piths stuffed with sea moss were delicate and came with gingko nuts. A hearty dish was the stir-fried pigeon with Jinhua ham served with steamed puff dough. The meat was very tender, while the ham was a combination of sweet and savoury. The wok-fried garoupa with green onion and ginger in XO sauce was very good in its combination of tastes that wasn't too spicy. The highlight was the dessert of double-boiled milk topped with bird's nest, as the milk custard was silky soft and not too sweet. BC

TIN LUNG HEEN
THE RITZ-CARLTON, HONG KONG
102/F, INTERNATIONAL COMMERCE CENTRE
1 AUSTIN ROAD WEST
KOWLOON
2263 2263
WWW.RITZCARLTON.COM

DRESSED TO THRILL

The Andre Fu-designed interior of Bettys Kitschen has a contemporary, modern look, while the staff wear different variations of a blue plaid uniform with black waistcoats, creating a clash of old and new. It can be very noisy during peak hours due to the hard surfaces in the restaurant, but your focus should be on the food which, for the most part, is excellent. For starters the thinly sliced air-dried Kintoa ham comes from the Basque region and is tender and hardly salty. Another refreshing appetiser is the compressed watermelon salad (above), where the water is sucked out of the fruit to make it more meaty, and it's dressed with balsamic vinegar, figs and greens.

We also liked the mackerel gravlax though the accompanying potato salad had some picked onions which were a tad too sharp. Another wonderful starter is the double cheese souffl?that had a golden domed top and tasted like a very moist Yorkshire pudding.

For mains the stuffed calamari with chorizo were perfectly cooked and accompanied with Venere black rice dressed with an indulgent lobster sauce. The roast harissa crust rack of lamb was also very tender with subtle spiciness and came with potato croquettes and saffron fennel. The meal was finished with a selection of cheeses ranging from soft to semi-hard, and the floating island of egg white surrounded by vanilla sauce was divine. BC

BETTYS KITSCHEN
SHOP 2075, IFC MALL
8 FINANCE STREET
CENTRAL
2979 2100
WWW.BETTYS.COM.HK

STEAKING A CLAIM

From the outside, Manzo looks like a theme-park version of a rustic New York steakhouse. But one look inside at the dry-ageing room with its sides of marbled beef and it's clear they take their steak seriously.

Not only do they age all their artisanal meat for three months, they have it produced to exact specifications by sustainable ranchers in rural Canada. Besides eight choices of steak, the menu features Italian-inspired dishes ranging from pastas to a seafood stew.

The antipasto of roasted veal marrow bones arrived on a sizzling platter, the unctuous marrow pairing well with the oxtail marmalade and toasted bread. The carne crudo had a soft, chunky texture, but tasted too creamy. There was no faulting the steaks, however, with the 9oz tenderloin (HK$248) and 14oz ribeye (HK$258) cooked exactly as ordered. We polished them off with garlicky broccoli and hot rosemary-dusted fries.

What most surprised us was the quality of the meat, rivalling that of Hong Kong's most expensive steakhouses. The wine list was another surprise with its wide selection from Italy, Australia and the United States - and bottles starting at HK$300. Desserts continued the Italian theme, the classic tiramisu and Frangelico gelato providing a smooth finish to a satisfying meal. TL

MANZO
11/F, TIMES SQUARE
1 MATHESON STREET, CAUSEWAY BAY
2735 3980
WWW.DININGCONCEPTS.COM.HK

HOT BREAKING NEWS

The News Room in Quarry Bay offers contemporary comfort food in a relaxed but stylish setting. Attracting a mainly white-collar crowd, the 100-seat restaurant, done mainly in dark wood and polished timber reminiscent of an English lodge, has seating options from high-top tables by the bar to outdoor terrace and private dining areas, one with mini-conference facilities.

The bar opens up to the street and features a menu of 200 wines. Cocktails such as the Nixon Sour, Hemingway Daiquiri and Pulitzer Punch highlight the media theme.

Open all day from breakfast to dinner, with a price range from HK$68 for entrees to HK$375 for main courses, it is advisable to reserve a table.

The menu ranges from hearty meat to vegetarian. Starters include garlic prawns and crab and spinach salad, while main courses include steak, burgers, mac and cheese with truffle oil, oxtail and kidney pudding, and fish and chips (above). Portions are large. For dessert try the cr?me br?l?e, Valrhona chocolate tart or the signature wild berry fruit sundae. TF

THE NEWS ROOM
33 TONG CHONG STREET
QUARRY BAY
2562 3444
WWW.THEPRESSROOM.COM.HK

QUALITY STREET

There's another option available at The Peak - casual Vietnamese dining at the cheerful-looking Pho Yummee. It opens up to an alfresco view of the Peak Tower, but also has panoramic sights of Pokfulam on the side. Pho Yummee aims to bring authentic Vietnamese street food to Hong Kong and it's an admirable attempt.

For appetisers, the grilled minced pork on lemongrass skewers (HK$46) have some chicken mixed in and is complemented by a mildly spicy sauce. Another refreshing starter is the summer rolls with fried soft-shell crab wrapped in lettuce with slices of mango, pickled ginger and avocado (HK$64).

A light dish is the tumeric catfish cooked in three small fillets on a bed of cold rice vermicelli, lettuce, scallions and dill (HK$68) dressed with fish sauce. The signature Pho Bo (HK$54), pho noodles with thinly sliced flank steak comes in a fragrant beef broth that includes Thai basil and sawtooth coriander that gives it an aromatic flavour.

Be sure to save room for ice cream and sorbets (HK$28 each) that are made in house. The tangerine rambutan sorbet has a subtle tanginess, and the intriguing young rice mango is smooth and milky. The strawberry lemongrass combination works well, along with the palm sugar vanilla ice cream. BC

PHO YUMMEE
SHOP 19-21, LEVEL 1, THE PEAK GALLERIA
118 PEAK ROAD
THE PEAK
2849 2121
WWW.CAFEDECOGROUP.COM

SUBWAY SURPRISE

On the fifth floor of The ONE in Tsim Sha Tsui is An-Tico, a New York-Italian restaurant. While the mall is geared towards young, hip customers, the restaurant whisks diners to the Big Apple - even the white tiles on the columns are the same as used in the subway.

Prices are reasonable and good for families or friends to share dishes. The An-Tico antipasto platter comes with melon wrapped in Parma ham, prawns, squid and grilled vegetables. The grappa-cured salmon was refreshing but in very thin slices. The restaurant makes Neapolitan pizzas and a rich one is the quattro of four cheeses, while soprano (above), featuring mozzarella, meatballs and tomato sauce lacked flavour. For mains, the grilled Tuscan sausage (right) was tasty, using fennel and chilli to spice the minced pork.

For dessert, the signature tiramisu was well-presented in a clear glass bowl, while the fondue with strawberries, banana, apple and biscotti was sinfully delicious. The copa al banana was basically a banana split topped with caramelised sugar, soft vanilla gelato with hot fudge sauce and strawberries. Creative cocktails and wines by the carafe are available. BC

AN-TICO
SHOP L504, 5/F, THE ONE
100 NATHAN ROAD
TSIM SHA TSUI
KOWLOON
2760 0988
WWW.WINDY-CITY.COM.HK

COMFORTABLY NUMB

He Jiang means 'junction of two rivers' and here it's the confluence of the Yangtze and Chishui rivers. The restaurant presents Sichuan and Huaiyang cuisines; some of the dishes are authentic, others are creative adaptations.

A Sichuan starter is thinly sliced pork wrapped around a piece of cucumber sitting in a garlic and chilli sauce. While it sounds pungent, it actually doesn't have much flavour. However, a wonderful dish is the Yu Xiang-style scallops (above) that are deep-fried, tender inside with a colourful chilli sauce. The heat factor jumps with the braised crab with Sichuan home-made sauce. Presented in a large bowl, the dish includes pickled vegetables and beans, a combination that is not authentic, but works well. There's a subtle numbness after tasting the roasted duck Sichuan style, in which the young bird was braised and then roasted, served in a soupy sauce that included Sichuan peppercorns. For Huaiyang dishes, the shredded beancurd is thinly sliced by hand and presented in a broth with chicken, Chinese ham and vegetables, and is a refreshing respite from the chillis. Another subtle dish is the smoked eel that must be ordered in advance. It's smoked with a combination of tea leaves, including jasmine, silver needle and oolong.

Desserts are standard but try complementing the meal with either Chinese beers or wine. BC

HE JIANG
1/F, COSMOPOLITAN HOTEL
387-397 QUEEN'S ROAD EAST
3167 7833
WWW.ELITE-CONCEPTS.COM

SOUP-ER DUMPLINGS

This trendy new Cantonese restaurant in Hung Hom, offering a comfortable setting and views of Tsim Sha Tsui and Victoria Harbour, is an ideal spot for dinner with family and friends.

We ordered the seven-course set dinner that included bird's nest soup with lobster and steamed garoupa. Pick of the night would be wok-fried beef tenderloin with goose liver. Although a diet-busting dish, the strongly-flavoured beef and melt-in-the-mouth foie gras were a classic combination. Both ingredients were diced and sauteed, making their appearance indistinguishable, until you bit into them. The only drawback was that Parma ham didn't go too well with braised Chinese cabbage. Traditional Jinhua dry-cured ham would seem a better match.

The shrimp dumplings in soup were among the best we have had. The wrappers were thin and smooth, the broth rich but refreshing and the contents - fresh shrimps, juicy minced pork and shredded Chinese mushrooms and black Chinese fungus that gave the dumplings texture - were perfectly seasoned. The dessert was delightful too, presented on a platter with three choices including the ever-popular mango, grapefruit and sago sweet soup. NT

ABOVE & BEYOND
LEVEL 28, HOTEL ICON
17 SCIENCE MUSEUM ROAD
TSIM SHA TSUI EAST
KOWLOON
3400 1318
WWW.HOTEL-ICON.COM

PIG OUT, HEAD-TO-TAIL

New York-Italian has arrived in Hong Kong via Linguini Fini - the decor looks as though it was transported from the Big Apple with its industrial minimalist look.

For a Monday night, the place was packed with young people, mostly Chinese eager to 'pig out', so to speak. The concept is head-to-tail dining, where various pig parts are cooked in numerous ways. For starters, we had the flatbread with rosemary, sea salt and garlic oil, and the artisan salumi platter that came with slices of mortadella, bresaola and salami to name a few. The I love Milanese (above) featured two pieces of fried, breaded pork heart with arugula and cherry tomatoes, while the eight-hour tripe was cut into small pieces that carried the sauce of tomato and pancetta. As for mains the crispy 'quick smoked' salmon was delicious, while the fazzoletti 'nose-to-tail bolo' had a sauce of braised pork cheek, veal and oxtail with carrots and tomato with thin shavings of parmigiano-reggiano and freshly made thin pasta.

For dessert, the lemon olive oil cake was a winner with poppy seed gelato. The presentation of the hot chocolate affogato was more destructive than alluring; the hot chocolate sauce was better than the marshmallow gelato. BC

LINGUINI FINI
1/F, THE PLACE
139 QUEEN'S ROAD
CENTRAL
2857 1333
WWW.LINGUINIFINI.COM

 

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