Restaurant review: 1963 in Wan Chai – homestyle Taiwanese dishes are moreish
Take a trip back in time for some Taiwanese classics, including the famous dish of three-cups chicken, and the interesting betel tree flowers with carrots and mushrooms
Eating at 1963 takes you back in time, at least as far as the decor is concerned. But far from being kitsch, it’s done tastefully, with covetable old clocks, lighting fixtures and knick-knacks; distressed and mismatched iron grates on the windows; whimsical wallpaper, plates and cutlery; and what look like vintage letterboxes along one wall.
The restaurant specialises in homestyle Taiwanese dishes, offering two set meals, plus à la carte options. We ordered one set meal (HK$239 for five dishes plus one drink) and rounded out the meal with some à la carte selections.
From the set meal, the braised minced pork with lo siu sauce on rice hit the spot. It was nothing fancy, but the flavours were familiar and comforting, with the richer flavours you expect from Taiwanese cuisine. Fried prawns with pineapple (three pieces) were so good that one of my guests insisted on having an encore. The waitress said initially that the dish wasn’t available a la carte, but after consulting her manager, we were served four pieces for HK$65. The pineapple was sweet and not acidic, and the prawns were well-cooked. Braised pig trotters had slightly chewy skin and the meat was dry, but the pickled vegetables served alongside were good.
The à la carte section had some Taiwanese classics, as well as unusual dishes. Braised intestines with spicy sauce (HK$80) had the unexpected addition of cubes of pig’s blood. We like intestines cooked longer: these were too chewy, but we liked the blood, which went well with the mild sauce. The famous Taiwanese dish of three-cups chicken (HK$88) had tender meat but the flavours were surprisingly bland. Braised beef shank with soup and noodles (HK$74) had a light broth, toothsome noodles and soft meat.
Our favourite dish was the most interesting: betel tree flowers with carrots and mushrooms (HK$65). The vegetables had been stir-fried, and had an unusual and interesting (in a good way) crisp-soft texture and an almost grassy flavour. Manchurian wild rice stalk salad (HK$75) was overcooked and watery, and the so-called “spicy dressing” was bland.
1963, 2/F Chung Wui Mansion, 110 Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai, tel: 3105 0160. About HK$170 without drinks or the service charge