Review: Chuan Alfresco Bar & Restaurant
5/F The Lamma Tower, 12-12A Hau Fook Street, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: 2311 0123
Price: about HK$225 without drinks or the service charge.
Ambience: the friendly service, combined with a balmy evening that allowed us to sit outside on the large deck area, was a pleasure and made our meal relaxing and fun.
Pros: the waiters were helpful and professional. In the izakaya-style of dining, we ordered a few dishes at a time and had a leisurely meal.
Cons: the music volume was a bit too high, although not bad enough that we couldn't hear each other. The size of the dishes can be difficult to tell from the price. The grilled spicy Chinese frog (HK$32) was tough and flavourless and the crispy bite-size cheese (HK$18), fried Chuan wonton (HK$32), grilled chicken (HK$28) and grilled Kagoshima chicken tails (HK$32) were nothing special.
Recommended dishes: the Sichuan-style spicy chicken balls (HK$28) weren't spicy, but they were moist and firm, with a slight crunch. The sea urchin and tofu with sesame sauce (HK$38) was cool and subtle. Crispy chicken gristle (HK$28) was just what you expect from this dish: crunchy-tender pieces of fried chicken cartilage. Deep-fried small mackerel shad (as it said on the menu, HK$28) were perfectly cooked so the head and bones were edible. The grilled diced beef brisket (HK$32) didn't look like much. In fact, the presentation was the same as the frog - on a skewer with onions and peppers, but the meat was surprisingly succulent, with a deep, beefy flavour. Grilled soft-boiled egg in bean curd (HK$32) was inventive: a softly crisp "shell" of bean curd skin wrapped around the runny egg. The grilled spicy eggplant in Sichuan style (HK$36) had slightly charred skin and the garlic-covered flesh was very soft. Japanese soft-boiled egg with sanuki udon (HK$48) was warm, comforting and light.
What else? While the cocktail and drinks lists were bilingual, the sake and shochu menu was only in Chinese, so the staff had to explain it to us (in Japanese and English).