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Time travel

Culinary journey from an old school cha chaan teng to Vietnamese-Thai fusion and a HK-style steakhouse

 

EYES WIDE OPEN

 

PEAK CAFÉ BAR
9-13 SHELLEY STREET
SOHO, CENTRAL
2140 6877
WWW.CAFEDECOGROUP.COM

 

FARE European and Asian. AMBIENCE Décor is 1960s Hong Kong with a casual setting; great for people watching. COST HK$600 for two with drinks. WHO TO BRING Friends or colleagues for casual night out. TURN-ONS Do yourself a favour and try Chinese roast duck and mozzarella on a pizza, the standout dish from a bar where the food is surprisingly good. The carrot and ginger soup was also above average. Not watery or too thick, it had a complex flavour base with heat from the ginger and sweetness from the carrot. Bite-sized chicken and cilantro meatballs were an added bonus. The five-spiced rubbed grilled pork spare ribs were tender with good flavour and a generous coating of sauce. The tangy dressing and crunch of the accompanying Asian coleslaw made this a balanced dish. TURN-OFFS The crème brûlée was all looks and no substance. Points for it being large enough for three and the dark rum poured over the dessert and flambéed at the table. Also, a wet towelette or finger bowl for the spare ribs would have been helpful. DRINKS Extensive list of beers, wines, non-alcoholic drinks and cocktails. LANA LAM

 

 


HAPPY DAYS

 

LOYAL DINING
66 WELLINGTON STREET
CENTRAL
3125 3000
WWW.LOYALDINING.COM.HK

 

FARE Cha chaan teng. AMBIENCE Old school feel with leather booth seating, wooden floors and retro lighting. COST HK$580 for two, including two ice cream sodas. WHO TO BRING Friends and family wanting a nostalgic bite in Central. TURN-ONS The presentation of the prawn cocktail was appetising and it was a refreshing start. Another straightforward dish was the Russian borsch, though some of the vegetables were larger than bite-sized pieces. The seared foie gras and barbecue pork with rice, topped with a sunny side egg, seemed strange, but was the highlight of the night. The barbecued pork had just the right amount of fattiness. We also enjoyed wrapping the sautéed minced pigeon with bamboo shoots, pine nuts and spring onions in crispy lettuce leaves. TURN-OFFS Jelly with fruit cocktail is a classic, though we were disappointed to count only seven pieces of fruit. DRINKS Hong Kong-style non-alcoholic drinks, some bottled beer. BERNICE CHAN

 

 


EASTERN PROMISE

 

LE SOLEIL
3/F, THE ROYAL GARDEN
69 MODY ROAD
TSIM SHA TSUI EAST
2733 2033
WWW.RGHK.COM.HK

 

FARE Vietnamese and Thai. AMBIENCE Comfortable seating in the atrium, complete with a fountain, although it's jarring to see a giant screen. COST HK$715 for two, including non-alcoholic drinks. WHO TO BRING Friends for a casual night out. TURN-ONS We liked the starter of goong sarong blanket enfolded crispy-fried prawns dripped in a sweet and sour apricot sauce. Stir-fried escargots were de-shelled and stir-fried with minced pork served with banh hoi noodles and crisp lettuce that was made more complex by fresh mint leaves. The highlight was the oven-baked cod fillet complemented by mango sauce. For dessert, the katafi chocolate banana pudding came encased under a "nest" with vanilla tapioca, a scoop of guava sorbet and chopped pistachios. TURN-OFFS The rice paper roll with smoked duck breast was bland. DRINKS Non-alcoholic, an international wine list and beers. BERNICE CHAN

 

 


SENSE OF TASTE

 

VI
G/F, REGAL RIVERSIDE HOTEL
34-36 TAI CHUNG KIU ROAD
SHA TIN
2132 1151
WWW.REGALHOTEL.COM

 

FARE Vietnamese-Thai fusion. AMBIENCE The restaurant is tastefully decorated in ethnic Thai and Vietnamese style, with comfortable seating and most of the furniture made from bamboo and woods native to the two lands. COST About HK$950 for two with non-alcoholic drinks. WHO TO BRING It was full of families and hotel guests, with a few tourists. TURN-ONS The restaurant has some dishes, unlike those found in regular Thai or Vietnamese restaurants. We started with deep-fried tomatoes with sea salt, herbs and garlic. The tomatoes were crunchy and not oily. The spicy-sour king prawn soup with lemongrass was tangy. Lao Cai sautéed beef cubes with mangoes and basil leaves was a perfect fusion while another interesting dish was the casserole of yellow vanilla curry. The chicken was fresh and absorbed the ingredients well. TURN-OFFS The staff were not well-versed with the menu and a number of drinks were not available. DRINKS Fruit and coconut drinks as starters. A good collection of beers from Southeast Asia. MUKUL MUNISH

 

 


CHOICE CUTS

 

BOSTON RESTAURANT
3 LUARD ROAD
WAN CHAI
2527 7646

 

FARE Hong Kong-style steak house. AMBIENCE There isn't much of an atmosphere in this warren-like restaurant, but people come for the steak at reasonable prices. WHO TO BRING Friends and family for a cheap and cheerful get together. COST HK$309 for two. TURN-ONS The beef brochette flambé has a dramatic presentation, where the staff present a giant skewer of meat and potatoes and blue flames tableside, and then set each piece on the sizzling platter before adding the rest of the flames to create a mini fire in front of you. Don't hold your napkin too close to the flames. The beef was very tender, cooked medium rare with black pepper sauce. The New Zealand rib-eye steak was also two large juicy pieces and came with gravy. For dessert the red bean cheesecake was sold out, so we tried the baked Alaska that was a relatively light finish. TURN-OFFS The side of frozen vegetables and wavy French fries was a pathetic portion, while the borsch came lukewarm. The place is very popular with locals, so be sure to come early, otherwise you have to wait for a table. DRINKS All dinner sets come with tea or coffee, although there are other Hong Kong-style drinks available. BERNICE CHAN

 

 


SUPER SOUFFLÉ

 

TAI PING KOON
60 STANLEY STREET
CENTRAL
2899 2780
WWW.TAIPINGKOON.COM

 

FARE Hong Kong-style. AMBIENCE Old-school atmosphere with booth seating, smart-looking elderly waiters and muzak in the background. WHO TO BRING Friends and family for a nostalgic dining experience. COST HK$429 for two, including non-alcoholic drinks. TURN-ONS The signature chicken wings in Swiss sauce lived up to its billing, sweet soy sauce coating the meaty wings that encouraged us to eat with our hands, with wet towels provided. The boiled corned ox tongue had a smooth texture that could have used a bit of mustard, but went well with the crispy poached vegetables and potato. The soufflé is twice as expensive as other desserts, but is a sight to behold as it's big enough for four people. TURN-OFFS The baked Portuguese-style vegetables were smothered in a light curry sauce that was tasteless. We were disappointed by the mango ice cream soda, the ice cream having an unnatural fruit taste, though it wasn't too sweet. Likewise the iced mixed-fruit drink, featuring fruit from a can with coconut-flavoured cubes in soda water, was very bland. DRINKS Limited wine selection with the restaurant's signature, Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. BERNICE CHAN

 

 


NOSTALGIC NIBBLES

 

CAPITAL CAFÉ
6 HEARD STREET
WAN CHAI
2666 7766

 

FARE Hong Kong-style food. AMBIENCE Quaint retro casual place with black and white tiling on the floors and walls and pictures of Hong Kong stars along the walls for added nostalgia. COST HK$218 for two, including non-alcoholic drinks. WHO TO BRING Friends and family for a quick bite. TURN-ONS We were impressed by the scrambled eggs on a thick piece of toast, though the bits of black truffle garnished on top didn't do much to enhance the flavour. The scrambled eggs were fluffy and placed on the toast in layers, making it easier to eat. We also liked the French toast with kaya and coconut jam that looked dauntingly greasy topped with butter, but it was actually very light and didn't leave a heavy lump in our stomachs afterwards. The cold milk tea was silky smooth and not watery, without being sickly sweet. TURN-OFFS The macaroni with char siu is one of the cafe's signature dishes, but even though the barbecue pork was meaty, the dish overall didn't have much flavour, which was disappointing. The hot watercress honey drink was much too sweet for our taste. DRINKS A number of Hong Kong-style cold and hot drinks are available as well as beers. BERNICE CHAN

 

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