New restaurants in Central: Guo Fu Lou – tea-smoked chicken fantastic, and worth the uphill trek
The hot walk up Garden Road to The Murray hotel was worth it as we enjoyed dish after dish of delicately flavoured Cantonese classics – although prices are on the high side
Getting to Guo Fu Lou takes a bit of effort, at least if you’re walking. The Chinese restaurant relocated from Wan Chai to The Murray hotel, which is across the street from St John’s Cathedral and between Garden Road and Cotton Tree Drive, about a 15-minute walk (uphill) from the Central MTR station. This would be nothing to complain about if we were in a temperate climate, but in the Hong Kong summer it can feel like you’re exercising in a sauna.
Fortunately, the meal is worth the hike.
One of my guests used to be a regular customer at Guo Fu Lou in Wan Chai, and she was immediately recognised by the staff, who came over to suggest dishes we should try. While we were tempted by their recommendations of steamed crab claw and some of the fresh fish dishes, their prices made us hesitate, and we ended up composing our own meal instead.
Jellyfish with spring onion oil (HK$180 for small, HK$260 for standard) was a light, refreshing appetiser. Mixed with softly crunchy jellyfish pieces were shreds of dried scallop, which added umami.
Jasmine tea-smoked chicken (HK$340 for half, HK$680 for whole) was fantastic. The moist meat was fragrant and delicately smoked, and served with a lightly spiced soy-based sauce that enhanced the flavours.
Barbecued pork (HK$160 for small, HK$240 for large) came in thick, succulent pieces with a mildly sweet glaze.
Steamed minced pork with salted fish (HK$300) showed that the kitchen can do homestyle dishes well. The pork was hand chopped, had a sufficient amount of fat, and the small pieces of salted fish were pungent without being overwhelming. Seasonal vegetables with century egg and salted egg in soup (HK$220) cooled our palates.
The only dish we disliked was deep-fried bean curd with spicy salt (HK$160 or HK$220). It didn’t come with spicy salt, but with garlic and chillies, and the bean curd was over fried so the crust was too thick and dark.
For dessert, the deep-fried crispy glutinous rice cake (HK$40 each) was dramatic – it was puffed up into a large ball, which the waitress cut into pieces with scissors. Although it was slightly oily, it had a delicate, not-too-chewy texture.
Guo Fu Lou, UG/F (in the pavilion building), The Murray Hong Kong, 22 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, tel: 3468 8188. About HK$470 per person, without drinks or the service charge.
While you’re in the area: