Diner’s Diary

Appeal of Hong Kong classic restaurant Jimmy’s Kitchen’s retro menu lost on us as a series of bland dishes disappoint

Jimmy’s Kitchen in Central closed temporarily and consulted a chef who worked there in the 1970s to tweak the menu and improve food quality. However, there has been no apparent improvement in its high-priced dishes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2018, 1:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2018, 5:27pm

After my colleague Enid Tsui attempted to dine at Jimmy’s Kitchen three weeks ago and had to leave because there was nothing available in the kitchen, we went back to the iconic restaurant in Hong Kong’s Central district after an apparent revamp of the dishes and minor renovation of the dining room.

For a Monday lunchtime the place was three-quarters full, mostly locals who must have deep pockets – set lunches here start at HK$228.

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We were there to try the menu after head chef and general manager Adrian Kavanagh told the Post he had got a former head chef who was there from the 1970s to 1990s to show him how the dishes were made back then in an attempt to improve the food quality at Jimmy’s Kitchen.

The menu hasn’t changed much, except that the steak page is considerably shorter; the prices are still eye-wateringly high.

Kavanagh had mentioned to my colleague he would fix the steak and kidney pie, so we tried to order it, but the waiter told us the kidney wasn’t good today and offered mushroom pie instead. Perhaps it’s still a work in progress.

The bread from the giant bread basket was bland – even butter couldn’t save the taste of biting into a sponge. It took well over 20 minutes for our appetisers to arrive.

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The intriguing baked avocado with crab was too curious not to try, but it was not worth HK$148. It consisted of half an avocado diced and mixed with a tiny spoonful of crab, mixed with a tiny bit of glazed hollandaise sauce to gel it together and put back in the half shell and heated up.

Baked avocado is not something I would normally eat, so it was interesting, but hardly impressive.

The next appetiser was just one English crab cake with a few salad leaves – for HK$158. The crab cake looked big and meaty, but in reality it was hardly inspiring, and lifted only slightly by a dollop of tarragon mayonnaise.

Next came a bowl of beetroot and vegetable borscht soup (HK$74) “from our Shanghai days”, which consisted of a few chopped vegetables, no meat, nor sour cream. It tasted bland yet again, but perhaps it is made to an authentic recipe from the Shanghai days when there wasn’t the cornucopia of vegetables available today.

There was another long wait until the mains arrived. By now we were hungry and resorted to eating more bland bread to keep our hunger pangs at bay.

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Chicken Supreme “Kiev” (HK$208) featured a breaded chicken breast that was deep fried and seasoned with parsley, garlic and butter, but that wasn’t enough to save the dish – there was hardly any taste in the chicken meat.

The mashed potatoes would have benefited from a giant dollop of butter, while the peas … were peas.

The steak Diane was better, prepared more rare than the medium rare we requested. There were two small chunks of beef amounting to eight ounces covered in a salty mushroom sauce on the plate for HK$428, with two carrots, two broccoli florets and more bland mashed potatoes. The meat was very chewy, but at least it had more flavour than any other dishes we’d had up until now.

Finally, dessert. We had to try the signature baked Alaska (HK$184) and we were impressed by its size, but our server skimped out on the liqueur, so when she lit it on fire and poured it on top of the dessert, instead of “wow” it was an “oh” reaction thanks to the disappointing pyrotechnic display.

Nevertheless three of us tucked into the dessert. It had an uninteresting cake base, topped with fresh fruit and ice cream. At least it was a somewhat delicious finish to the meal.

For all that the total was HK$1,320 for three without drinks. The supposed improvements didn’t seem evident to us, though diners around us, many of whom seemed to be regulars, didn’t seem to mind.

Jimmy’s Kitchen, South China Building, 1-3 Wyndham St, Central, tel: 2526 5293