Food review: Beijing Home has hits and misses
Elaborately decorated Beijing speciality house serves up some hits - and the odd miss, writes Susan Jung
Decorated as it is with embroidered Chinese costumes, red lanterns, birdcages, cooking implements, carved wooden screens, porcelain vases and a few glass-covered tables made of wide bowls with goldfish swimming in them, Beijing Home's interior walks a fine line between interesting and kitsch.
The place was full on a rainy weekday lunch and we were glad that we had booked a table. From the looks of things, most of the other diners had ordered set lunches, which start at about HK$49. We ordered à la carte, and had a hard time choosing between the tempting sounding dishes.
We tried several cold starters, the least successful of which was the marinated black fungus (HK$56), which was too vinegary. A salad of red and green peppers with cucumber, onion and bean curd sheet (HK$48) was better because the dressing was refreshing without being too acidic.
The flavour of the smoked chicken (HK$108) was fine, but the portion was small. And because we could only find a few scraps of dark meat, we questioned whether it really was half a chicken. (The manager insisted it was, and even brought out a chicken to show us that it was just a small one.)
The pig skin marinated in Beijing style (HK$62) turned out to be a delicious jellied terrine of offcuts, such as skin and ears.
The best cold dish by far was the shredded tripe with mustard (HK$58), which showed pain and pleasure could go together. Once in a while we'd get a sinus-clearing, tear-inducing mustardy mouthful, but it was so good that we couldn't stop eating.
Crispy lamb Beijing style (HK$98) was a bargain. The slightly fatty lamb belly had been seasoned with cumin, cooked until tender and then deep-fried so the skin was delicately crunchy. The signature fried tofu (HK$88) was made of mashed bean curd mixed with preserved vegetable and other ingredients (we thought we tasted meat, but the waitress said it was a vegetarian dish). Shaped into large balls before being deep-fried, the bean curd was moist, well-seasoned and very satisfying.
The worst dish was the stir-fried kidneys with chilli and peanuts (HK$88). Oddly, the kidney pieces were both mushy (we suspect from being frozen) and tough (it was overcooked). The noodles with soy sauce (HK$68), served with black fungus, shrimp and egg, were bland.
The humble sounding dish of dumplings with scrambled eggs and tomato (HK$60) was excellent. The handmade wrappers were tender yet resilient enough that they didn't fall apart when stuffed with filling.
Dessert of sweet potato in honey (HK$48) had a fun presentation that made us smile - the battered, deep-fried chunks of sweet potato came with a crown of spun sugar strands.
Service throughout the meal was patient and attentive. When the waitress noticed at the end of our lunch that we hadn't eaten the kidney dish and didn't want it for takeaway, she told us we should have mentioned earlier that there was a problem.
We'll definitely return so we could try some of the other specialities, including, of course, the Beijing duck.
Beijing Home, 7/F Island Beverley, 1 George Street, Causeway Bay. Tel: 2761 3300. Open: 11am-3pm, 5.30pm-11pm