Restaurant review: Lee Lo Mei in Central - classic Hong Kong dishes get a modern makeover
Spicy shelter crab, a delicious clay pot of seasonal vegetables and salted fish, and a spectacular chicken and abalone are standouts
Lee Lo Mei looks great – the first floor dining area (the bar is on the ground floor) has decor and serving dishes that are colourful and retro, but not kitschy. The menu is brief – just one page, including desserts – and tempting, with many dishes we wanted to try. They serve modern interpretations of Hong Kong classics, and for the most part, it’s done well.
Spicy shelter crab (HK$108) serves up fried crab balls, delicately crisp dried shrimps, tiny whole roe-filled crabs (to be eaten shells and all) and spring onions covered with a heap of garlicky crumbs. The flavours were good and authentic, with the crab ball tasting sufficiently crabby.
A clay pot filled with seasonal vegetables with salted fish, garlic and ginger (HK$88) was a delicious dish. The Chinese kale was fresh and sweet and stir-fried to crisp-tender, with a light but flavourful sauce studded with whole cloves of garlic that were soft and mild. Turnip cake (HK$88) – wrapped in kataifi and served with home-made XO sauce, was a nice mix of textures, with the pastry strands adding crunch to contrast with the soft turnip inside.
The “full of rice” chicken with whole abalone (HK$268) was the most spectacular dish of the night. The chicken had been deboned, stuffed with well-flavoured sticky rice, wrapped in lotus leaf, then salt-baked. The chef cracked the salt crust and unwrapped the lotus leaf to reveal the chicken, which had an enticing scent. Our only quibble is that the whole abalone didn’t integrate into the filling – it would have been nicer (if less pretty) if it had been diced and mixed with the rice, which was flavoured with air-dried meats.
HK style ho fun (HK$258), on the other hand, looked extremely unappetising. Thin slices of wagyu beef had been laid over the warm (not hot) rice noodles, so the fat started to congeal. The flavour of the dish was fine, even though the noodles had no wok hei (breath of the wok). I took the leftovers home, and the noodles and soft, fatty beef tasted much better after I’d heated them in a searingly hot wok.
Sweet rice dumplings (HK$88) were a nice and unexpectedly modernist ending to the meal. Instead of the familiar dish of tong yuen bobbing in hot ginger soup, it was reversed here, with a sphere of clear, topaz-coloured ginger broth. You put the whole thing in your mouth and burst the sphere to release the soup.
Lee Lo Mei, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2896 7688. About HK$315 without drinks or the service charge
Other places we’ve tried recently nearby