Hong Kong restaurant reviews

New in Wan Chai: Madame Ching serves up modern Chinese with great roast meats, average vegetables

Get there early if you want to secure a table at this popular modern Chinese restaurant. The standouts from the short menu are the meats and the desserts

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 September, 2018, 12:32pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 September, 2018, 12:31pm

My friends and I arranged to meet at Madame Ching at 6.30pm figuring it was a good way to beat the crowd and grab a table, because the restaurant doesn’t take bookings. We were successful – maybe even a little early – because it wasn’t until we left at around 8.30pm that the place was full.

This modern Chinese venture by the Pirata Group is convivial and noisy, but not so loud we couldn’t hear the soundtrack (which two of us liked but the third member of the party didn’t). The glass window in front of the kitchen shows a selection of siu mei (roast meats) which is a large focus of the short (one-page) menu. The drinks list was longer than the food menu.

From the crispy snacks section, General Son’s chicken (HK$95) came in large chunks that were sweet and moist, with a subtle crunch under the glaze.

Mapo tofu (HK$120 was unusual: instead of squares of fresh tofu in a mala (numbing and spicy) sauce, the sauce was served in a small bowl with crisp sheets of fried soybean skin.

When the manager brought over an unordered plate of hamachi crudo (HK$120), saying it was his favourite dish, I realised he had recognised me. It was a good contrast to the other two starters, both of which had numbed our tongues (the chicken because of sasho pepper; the tofu because of Sichuan peppercorns). This fish had lighter flavours that refreshed our palates.

One of the barbecue specials that night was roast goose (the regular options include roast duck, Japanese pork belly and Spanish baby back ribs). I was specific with the order: we wanted a quarter duck (HK$170), and the leg, instead of the breast. It was a very good version, with delicately crisp skin, succulent meat and a thin layer of fat that wasn’t greasy.

We enjoyed the meat with burnt ends fried rice (HK$95) that had separate grains, good flavour, and a nice amount of charred bits of roast lamb neck.

The weak point in the menu is the vegetables. Brussels sprouts with roast jus (HK$85) were undercooked and hard, while the long beans with XO sauce (HK$100) were overcooked and floppy.

There were two desserts available, and we had both. Malay goh (Malay cake, HK$48) was nice and light and didn’t taste too much of baking soda, and came with a smooth Ovaltine pudding.

Yakult ice cream with sugar cane granita and osmanthus jelly was cool and refreshing.

Madame Ching, 5 Star Street, Wan Chai, 2577 7227. About HK$260 without drinks. There’s no service charge.

While you’re in the area

Ni hao: Mandarin greeting for diners at new Wan Chai restaurant

Santé Wine Bar in Wan Chai review: French-Spanish delights

Boucher Francais in Wan Chai review: top-quality dry-aged beef