Restaurant review: Whenever in Tsim Sha Tsui serves classic Cantonese cuisine

If you’ve eaten at the Kimberley Chinese Restaurant, where Whenever’s chef used to work, you’ll recognise some of the specialities at this place, where much of what we tried was excellent

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 December, 2015, 5:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 December, 2015, 5:46pm

Cuisine: Cantonese

Price: about HK$275 without drinks or the service charge.

Ambience: the space is divided into several rooms, and in one area, you can sit at a high table with bar chairs. Our first waiter was not very helpful, but then a more knowledgeable manager took our order and the service improved.

Pros: the food. It was obvious from some of the dishes that the chef had worked previously at the Kimberley Chinese Restaurant at the Kimberley Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui – a place we used to like very much (we haven’t been back recently, though). They offer Kimberley specialities such as the glutinous rice-stuffed suckling pig (which we didn’t try because there were only three of us) and fresh ox bone and turnip in soup, which we did.

Cons: in the main dining room, a video showing pastoral images was projected onto a wall; it was very distracting, and we asked to be moved away from it. We ordered a taro appetiser (HK$68), thinking it would be hearty and warming but we couldn’t have been more wrong. Whereas everything else about the meal was classic Cantonese, this dish seemed to have been created by an eager young cook straight out of culinary school: the taro balls, covered with zig-zags of colourful fruit sauce (one purple, one red and one yellow) and served on a bed of red cabbage, came in a martini glass. It was not a success.

Recommended dishes: the ox bone and turnip soup (HK$108) had the same presentation as the Kimberley version. It was excellent – a little more peppery than the original, but hot, rich and comforting. The tendon was soft, but the turnip was slightly fibrous.

Light, well-fried bean curd with salted egg yolk (HK$58) was cut into smaller cubes than usual, which gave it a higher crisp crust to soft interior ratio.

Stir-fried rice vermicelli with crabmeat and bean sprouts (HK$160) was very well executed: the vermicelli had a springy texture, the crabmeat was sweet and in large enough pieces, and very fine slivers of ham added flavour. A bubbling clay pot of marinated chicken with Chinese rice wine (HK$148) was a delicious, warming winter dish. The pieces of tender chicken came with a sauce that was well-flavoured with rice wine lees,sweet Chinese dates and spicy fresh ginger chunks, with wood ear mushrooms adding crunch.

We also enjoyed the stir-fried kale with preserved meats (HK$148). Despite the plentiful amounts of laap cheung (Chinese sausage), yuen cheung (liver sausage) and laap yuk (Chinese bacon), the sweet, crisp-tender vegetable wasn’t oily.

What else? We’ll be back to taste the stuffed suckling pig.

Whenever 30-41 Houston Centre, 63 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2638 3329.

Open: 11.30am-3pm, 6.30pm-11pm