New & noted: Flower Drum, Wan Chai – elegant, flavoursome dishes make for a delicious dining experience
On a mouthwatering menu that impressed from starters to dessert, the steamed custard with Kyushu eggs, minced Miyazaki Marumi pork, Yunnan wild matsutake mushrooms and dried scallops, was simply perfect
You know from the second you step inside that Flower Drum (which has no connection to the establishment with the same name in Melbourne) is a cut above many other Chinese restaurants.
The main dining room is small and elegant, there’s an attractive fish and lotus flower installation on one wall, a large chandelier that my guest and I coveted, and table settings that are tasteful and luxurious.
When we saw the menu, we were annoyed that there were only two of us, because we wanted to taste much more than we could eat. While many of the dishes here are expensive, the menu also lists reasonably-priced homestyle dishes that, while far more costly than what you’d pay at a cha chaan teng, are of much better quality.
Crispy bean curd (HK$75) was one of the best versions we’ve tasted, and our attentive waitress told us to eat it while hot. The long rectangles of soft bean curd were moist and tender, and while they had enough flavour on their own, they also went deliciously with home-made XO sauce and the shallots in oil.
Another good starter was the abalone and spring onion rolls (HK$108). The finely minced, well-seasoned ingredients were wrapped in bean curd skin and fried until crisp.
The only dish we disliked was one we chose because it sounded interesting; in retrospect, we realised we should have stuck with classic combinations. Braised pigeon breast with potato curry (HK$180) had a grainy, surprisingly spicy sauce that tasted like packaged Japanese curry. The pigeon breast was tender but had a taste of liver.
Stir-fried beef and Chinese kale in satay sauce (HK$180) was a more successful dish, even though we both thought the sweet, young kale pieces were slightly overcooked. The thinly sliced beef was of good quality, and although the sauce tasted like no other satay we’ve ever eaten, it had a deep, complex flavour – there were tiny bits of pineapple and ginger and we thought we detected subtle hints of Sichuan peppercorn.
We’ll definitely be back because of two dishes that the kitchen took to another level. Steamed custard and congee are easy dishes that every Cantonese home cook can make. Here, though, the steamed custard is made with Kyushu eggs, minced Miyazaki Marumi pork, Yunnan wild matsutake mushrooms and dried scallops, then drizzled with extra-virgin soy sauce (HK$180). In a word: perfect.
Also fantastic was the congee with king scallops, fresh giant grouper, fresh crabmeat and fish maw (HK$260). Who knew congee could be this elegant? It was smooth, light and delicate, with a deep flavour from all the seafood.
The friendly and talkative waitress served us complimentary dessert of a sweet fresh strawberry and a slice of juicy nashi pear, and showed us the lunch menus which listed noodle and rice dishes ranging from HK$95 to HK$328.
Flower Drum, 2/F Linway Court, 69-71 Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai, tel: 2267 0288.
About HK$500 without drinks or the service charge