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Global flavours

Diners can explore many different takes on an array of international cuisines

 

MALAYSIAN TWIST

 

The "Malaysian-inspired menu" of Fatty Crab has won many fans in the United States for its creative use of traditional Malaysian ingredients. It was interesting to see how my more Asian-trained taste buds would react.

To start with, we ordered the razor clams in Tianjin preserved cabbage, Chinese celery and galangal (HK$50). The galangal was obviously toned down to allow the natural flavour of the razor clams to shine through.

Having had the real grilled Jalan Alor chicken wings (HK$90 for three) before, the temptation to try the Fatty Crab version was too great to resist. This version was overpoweringly smokier. The seared sea scallops with green mango and papaya salad (HK$120) were refreshingly light.

Disappointingly, they were out of crabs even though it was only 7.30pm, so we had to settle for the chilli lobster (HK$450). One of the joys of having the real Malaysian chilli crab is that the crab meat is fully soaked in the pungent chilli sauce. The lobster here sat on a base of thick curry paste, and the only way you could get the curry flavour on the meat was to dip it in the sauce, which actually tasted better on the thick, buttery toast that came on the side.

The surprise of the evening was the char kway teow (HK$130), which was inspiration taken to new heights and looked like a hybrid of fried kway teow (flat rice noodles), Indian mee goreng and Indonesian nasi goreng. Winnie Chung

 

FATTY CRAB
11-13 OLD BAILEY STREET
CENTRAL
2521 2033
WWW.FATTYCRAB.COM

 


 

SEXY VIETNAMESE

 

Chôm Chôm has made a bold culinary rebirth on Peel Street, successfully abandoning its traditional mains for edgier, sexier Vietnamese bites.

Grabbing a seat bar-side gives you a glimpse of Chef Peter Cuong Franklin and his team at work.

Franklin gives pho a playful nod with the Pho-jito (HK$88), a signature cocktail that muddles Thai basil and lemongrass with the classic mint mojito. The pho flavours infused in rum are a revelation. For something sweeter, we recommend the Far East smash (HK$88), which uses sugar cane-infused vodka.

The food menu is similarly fun and creative.

We relished the thin crispy skin, spritzed with lime, of the Vietnamese fried chicken, or VFC (HK$88). The grilled beef in betel leaf (HK$88) also delivered, with incredibly pungent cigar-like bites.

A salad standout, the grilled eggplant with crab meat (HK$98) was fearless with raw hits of scallion, mint and coriander. Unfortunately, the same abandon on the seasoning of our "shaking" beef (HK$158) left the succulent tenderloin bites slightly too salty, while the spicy tuna rolls (HK$78) seemed to lack the XO sauce that had intrigued us on the menu. Irene Pyne

 

CHÔM CHÔM
58 PEEL STREET
CENTRAL
2810 0850
WWW.CHOMCHOM.HK

 


 

SPANISH TRADITIONS

 

A new alfresco Spanish restaurant, Pico has opened in Tsim Sha Tsui East's Empire Centre around the corner from the main row of alfresco bars and restaurants overlooking the waterfront.

The interior has authentic Spanish touches with patterned tiles and rustic woods while Spanish music plays. The service on this particular busy Saturday night was friendly and efficient.

Starting with deliciously refreshing sangria (HK$68), our waiter recommended we try the scallops wrapped with Serrano ham (HK$118) and the garlic and chilli prawns (HK$88). The scallops and ham are a perfect combination of flavours and textures, not so the garlic and chilli prawns - a popular dish in Hong Kong, you can have better elsewhere.

The crispy spiced pork belly (HK$118) was disappointing, but the patatas bravas (HK$68) flavoured with paprika sauce and alioli are worth going back for, as is the Arroz Pico (HK$188) the signature paella-style dish for two with chicken, prawns, mussels, vegetables and slow-cooked sofrito and saffron. Tracey Furniss

 

PICO
SHOP 23, G/F EMPIRE CENTRE
68 MODY ROAD
EAST TSIM SHA TSUI
KOWLOON
2366 8355

 


 

A GENUINE TOUCH

 

Café Malacca, hidden in the Trader's Hotel in Western, has been quietly amassing a following of Malaysian and Singaporean food aficionados.

The varied menu is a bit like the rojak (HK$53), a mixed fruit salad tossed with prawn paste, featuring an interesting array of ingredients that give it different flavours and textures. The satay (HK$72) was also a great starter with its rice cakes.

Chef Sunny Tse is actually Thai-Chinese but has mastered the smoky taste of char kway teow (HK$85) that usually only comes with charcoal stoves. The fried flat rice noodles came out almost as good as the real thing. The Penang assam laksa (HK$82) is also another great nod to the foods of Penang. The fish soup was deliciously fragrant, with the tamarind giving it an extra kick. We were thrilled to find that it came with pineapple and cucumber slices and chopped bunga kantan (torch ginger bud), and prawn paste.

And the biggest tip we can give you is to ask for the durian pudding (HK$38) for dessert. It's not in the menu, but its rich creaminess is simply to die for. Winnie Chung

 

CAFÉ MALACCA
2/F, TRADERS HOTEL
508 QUEEN’S ROAD WEST
WESTERN DISTRICT
2213 6613
WWW.SHANGRI-LA.COM/HONGKONG/TRADERS/DINING/RESTAURANTS/CAFE-MALACCA/

 


 

BIT OF EVERYTHING

 

An ambitious project even for seasoned restaurateurs Yenn Wong, Alan Lo and Paulo Pong, Duddell's brings together a bar, salon, art gallery, garden terrace and fine-dining restaurant into a single stylish, two-storey space.

With so much attention given to the Ilse Crawford décor, guest-curated art exhibits and even elegant table settings, we were admittedly sceptical about the food. Any doubts quickly vanished with two perfectly prepared soups - one a smooth abalone broth with shredded chicken and conpoy (HK$260), the other a hot-and-sour seafood broth with enoki mushrooms and plump prawn pieces (HK$160).

The meal continued on a high note with chef Siu Hin-chi's recommended fried lobster with scallion and shallots (HK$760 per piece) - small but satisfying chunks of fresh lobster with ginger and crunchy onion - and crispy chicken (HK$230/half) combining dark, crunchy skin and moist meat.

The extensive menu - everything from bird's nest to Peking duck - would take several visits to get through, so we appreciated being able to order half-portions. Tama Lung

 

DUDDELL’S
3/F, SHANGHAI TANG MANSION
1 DUDDELL STREET
CENTRAL
2525 9191
WWW.DUDDELLS.CO

 


 

PALES IN COMPARISON

 

Numero 15, in the space formerly housing Spanish tapas eatery Mesa 15, still has tapas on the menu, but is a more casual affair with colourful pop art-style graphics on the walls. You can't go wrong with chorizo skewers (HK$69) that come with a few dabs of mash potato. The mussels in a spicy tomato sauce (HK$99) were cooked well and, while the sauce had a light kick, it lacked the advertised chorizo.

The sautéed mushrooms with baby asparagus (HK$79) were moist and firm, but the greens were stringy and devoid of flavour despite the garlic and parsley oil. The bravas (HK$49), deep fried slow-cooked potatoes with spicy tomato sauce, were below average with poor presentation and very little sauce.

The signature 12-hour confit crispy boneless suckling pig (HK$119) came in three bite-sized pieces and, while soft and tender, did not have the crispy skin that one expects with this dish. The seafood black rice paella (HK$238) was disappointing with undercooked rice, very little seafood and the much-needed aioli was a flat effort.

For dessert, the cheesecake (HK$69) was smooth and creamy and the strawberry marmalade cut through the richness, but we couldn't detect any red wine in the sauce. There's half a dozen choices of red and white dependable Spanish wines and the requisite sangria. Lana Lam

 

NUMERO 15
HOLLYWOOD ROAD, CENTRAL
TEL: 2530 1890'

 

 

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