TOUCH OF CLASS
AMBIENCE Sophisticated dining atmosphere with crystal chandeliers, cosy banquette seating and a quiet open kitchen with a culinary team preparing dishes.
COST HK$2,500, including a glass of red wine.
WHO TO BRING Significant other, impress guests from out of town.
TURN-ONS The Vendeen frogs' legs were delicate and delicious, lightly covered in breadcrumbs and sat in a bed of wild watercress puree with small bubbles of garlic. The appetiser of organic tomato panache was a trio of tomato-themed dishes with a meaty piece of steak, a tart and a shot of gazpacho. They were very refreshing. For the mains, an excellent dish was the racan pigeon feuillete (above), cooked to a deep pink and wrapped with foie gras in seaweed, though it was a bit difficult to cut into with the limp pastry. The Atlantic cod fillet was delicious and more decadent with Australian black truffle. We loved the dessert of popcorn cheesecake with blackcurrant meringue and poached figs, which was a sublime combination of flavours and textures. Service was friendly and informative, bringing great decorum to the fine dining experience.
TURN-OFFS While the service overall was personable, it was not consistently attentive.
DRINKS An international wine list with a sommelier who can make recommendations. BC
6/F, FOUR SEASONS HOTEL HONG KONG
8 FINANCE STREET
AMBIENCE Banqueting room setting with extensive use of silver. Contemporarily designed decor and seating.
COST HK$1,475 for five, including drinks.
WHO TO BRING The clan or bewildered foreign business associates to help overcome their trepidation about Chinese food.
TURN-ONS We thought the double-boiled silky chicken soup with star fish and herb was the zenith of culinary craftsmanship until the diced seafood soup with rice arrived. Special mention for the sauteed beef tenderloin and mushroom in garlic sauce (above)with the meat pulverised into palm-sized medallions and slowly pan fried. We also enjoyed the baby pigeon that comes roasted and quartered, or minced and sauteed and served with conpoy and lettuce.
TURN-OFFS The air conditioner that afflicts many other dining rooms across town prevails here also and steams the windows so much as to blur the vista over the Shing Mun River.
DRINKS A plentiful stock of reds and whites, but for authenticity, we chose lashings of Tsing Tao. MD
2/F REGAL RIVERSIDE HOTEL
34-36 TAI CHUNG KIU ROAD
FINGER LICKIN' GOOD
AMBIENCE Exclusive dining where guests are escorted by lift to a quiet dining area with beige and brown tones. For a restaurant that can command high prices, it was disconcerting to see a diner wearing flip flops.
COST HK$1,870 for two with tea.
WHO TO BRING Business associates to impress or family and friends on a special occasion.
TURN-ONS The pre-ordered crispy roasted baby pigeon was excellent, so tender and juicy that we licked the bones clean. Another fantastic dish is the steamed goose with plum and sliced taro that came on two separate large platters. The goose is steamed then braised, marinated in the fragrant soy bean sauce. The meat was flavourful as was the sliced taro. We also thoroughly enjoyed the braised pomelo skin with shrimp roe that melted in the mouth and the stir-fried bitter melon in black bean sauce. Another favourite was the classic steamed minced pork with preserved salted fish that was very soft and smooth.
TURN-OFFS While the almond tea with egg white was good for dessert, the ground walnut soup didn't have much taste and seemed to be thickened with other ingredients.
DRINKS Mostly top French wines, liquors and spirits. BC
FOOK LAM MOON
35-45 JOHNSTON ROAD
TURN BACK CLOCK
FARE Cha chaan teng
AMBIENCE Plenty of dark wood, cosy leather booths, plantation-style shutters and retro flooring.
WHO TO BRING Curious foodies wanting to see what Hongkongers ate in the '60s and '70s.
COST About HK$900 for two with drinks.
TURN-ONS The baked escargots (above) were garlicky but with a metallic aftertaste. My French dining companion, a self-confessed foodie, believed the aftertaste came from the water in which they had been washed. The fish chowder lacked any flavour of its key ingredient but the garnish of a buttery cracker was a nice touch. A signature dish was the pigeon simmered in sweet soy sauce. The meat was tender but I prefer a crispier skin with this bird. The beef Wellington was a sizeable chunk of beef wrapped in puff pastry served on a sizzling hot plate, but the gravy was not rich or savoury. Top dishes were the steamed garoupa with broccoli and the Portuguese-style vegetables, both confident in their flavours and cooked with crunch still left in the greens. The souffl?was light and eggy but not textured enough and could have had chocolate or fruit inside.
TURN-OFFS Lack of wine list did not impress.
DRINKS Good selection of typical Hong Kong-style drinks. LL
66 WELLINGTON STREET
AMBIENCE The restaurant is located in Hullett House, the former marine police headquarters. The atmosphere is relaxed and the restaurant is divided into various rooms, with a verandah that gives the feeling of a hutong.
COST About HK$1,300 for two with drinks.
WHO TO BRING Businessmen entertaining associates, visitors and families.
TURN-ONS We were particularly impressed with the deep-fried shrimps rolled with avocado, which were golden brown and not too oily. Pan-fried beef rolled with mashed shrimps and pineapple in home-made gamey sauce also hit the spot. We also enjoyed smoked crispy duck breast with peach sauce. For mains, we tried the pan-fried fillet of chicken with black truffles and vegetables (above) and wok-fried boned pigeon with Yunnan ham, black mushrooms and bamboo shoots. We liked the tender, juicy chicken, while the truffles added to its earthy taste.
TURN-OFFS The restaurant was quiet on a weekday, which suited us but would not please everybody.
DRINKS Good selection of Chinese wines and moutai. MM
LOONG TOH YUEN, HULLETT HOUSE
2A CANTON ROAD
TSIM SHA TSUI, KOWLOON
TASTY AND TENDER
AMBIENCE Traditional Chinese decor in gold and red with silk wall panels and chandeliers.
COST About HK$1,200 for dinner for two with drinks.
WHO TO BRING Business guests from overseas who will be impressed by the elegant decor and Michelin-star cuisine.
TURN-ONS The crispy chicken with spicy herbs was expertly cut and presented. Its meat was tasty and tender. The roasted marinated pigeon was of the quality one would expect, while the crispy pork brisket was tasty. The baked stuffed crab shell was a delight with its golden, crispy skin and fresh stuffing of crab meat, onion and vegetables. For dessert, the sago pudding with lotus seed chestnut and double boiled whole young coconut with fresh milk and egg were refreshing.
TURN-OFFS Service was slow. We requested a corner table at the time of reservation, but this failed to materialise. When we asked again for a corner table it was cramped.
DRINKS Chinese teas, and an extensive list of red and white wines, Champagne and liquor. KC
LEVEL 5, ISLAND SHANGRI-LA
FARE Contemporary American
AMBIENCE Old New York meets classic Paris. The entrance leads directly into Lily, a speakeasy-inspired bar, which is joined by an inner staircase to Bloom, a brasserie-style restaurant below.
COST HK$1,200 for two, including a bottle of wine.
WHO TO BRING First dates and funky young professionals.
TURN-ONS The fried quail (pictured) was a good twist on Southern-style fried chicken, juicier and gamier, but in the same thick, crunchy batter. It can be ordered as a snack at Lily or as a late-night dish or brunch option at Bloom. Grits were perfectly creamy and had a nice touch of cheddar. The raw bar was a welcome addition, offering five varieties of oysters, abalone, cherrystone clams and original ceviche creations.
TURN-OFFS The schizophrenic menu has everything from lamb kibbeh with tabbouleh to vegetarian Mexican tamales, to a New England lobster bake, making it difficult to enjoy a cohesive meal. The Iberico pork chop came out raw in the centre and had to be sent back. It was fine in the end, but no one came to check whether we were satisfied.
DRINKS An international wine list plus home-made 'moonshine' cocktails such as Bathtub Gin and Chili Tequila. TL
LILY & BLOOM
6/F, LKF TOWER
33 WYNDHAM STREET