Restaurant review: Guo Fu Lou
LGF2, The Empire Hotel Hong Kong, 33 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai
Tel: 2861 2060
Open: 11am-3pm, 6pm-11pm
Price: about HK$400 without drinks or the service charge.
Ambience: although the colour scheme of orange chairs and purple tablecloths was not really to our taste, it was a comfortable setting, with tables that were spaced sufficiently far apart.
Pros: our waiter was helpful and recommended dishes, some of which were available in limited quantities. We ordered one off-menu item to accommodate a member of our group who wasn't feeling well, and they cooked it - very well - without complaint.
Cons: the low ceilings mean that the sound level can be quite high if there's a large group nearby. Although we didn't have any fresh or dried seafood dishes, and ordered quite moderately - only four dishes plus the daily soup (HK$320) - the high bill was a bit of a surprise.
Recommended dishes: the barbecued suckling pig (half for HK$650) was stellar. The skin, each piece placed by the waiter onto a thin layer of steamed bread, was delicate and crisp with very little fat; while the meat - served separately - was well-flavoured. A dish called "steamed sandwiches of boneless chicken with Jinhua ham and shiitake mushrooms" sounded more interesting than the classic Cantonese dish of steamed chicken. It was very well done, with tender meat whose subtlety was offset by the saltiness of the ham. It came with thin slices of bamboo shoot, rather than the mushrooms listed on the menu. The off-menu item of steamed egg with salted egg and century egg (HK$160) was just what the doctor ordered for my sick friend, but all of us enjoyed the delicately textured, subtly flavoured custard. Pea shoots in broth (HK$200) were bright green, tender leaves that were cooked perfectly.
What else? Some of the staff - including the chef - worked previously at Fook Lam Moon.