New restaurants in Hong Kong: Fooklore in Wan Chai – Cantonese fare so delicious it left us speechless
Susan Jung was shocked into silence when she tasted the deep-fried smoked pomfret fillet served at this new restaurant in the Empire Hotel
I am not normally one for superlatives, but my first bite of our first dish at Fooklore was so stunningly delicious that I momentarily stopped listening to my guest, who was telling me a tale of woe. Even she paused to say, “Wow, this is good”.
The new restaurant in the basement of the Empire Hotel in Wan Chai replaces Guo Fu Lou, which moved to the Murray Hotel in Central. There’s still a sign for Guo Fu Lou as you walk down the stairs. Both restaurants are part of the Fook Lam Moon restaurant group, but while Guo Fu Lou (and Fook Lam Moon in Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui) specialise in Cantonese cuisine, Fooklore also lists Sichuan dishes.
The menu is long – which is usually not a good sign. Most of the dishes we chose were from the “chef’s recommendations” part of the menu, and our friendly waitress (who mistook my guest for a regular at Fook Lam Moon) suggested an off-menu seasonal item.
The dish that shocked us into silence was deep-fried smoked pomfret fillet (HK$460). I’m sure I’ve eaten this at Fook Lam Moon but don’t remember being this impressed.
It didn’t look that promising: six small, thin fillets of fish with the skin left on, garnished with some frisée and served with a generous bowl of salad cream, which we ignored, as should you (the heavy, cloying flavour would obliterate the subtlety of the dish). The fish was smooth, delicate and moist, with a very gentle smokiness.
A homestyle dish of lotus root and minced pork patties (HK$160 for a small portion, $220 for standard) was also better than any version that I’ve tasted before. The small, fat patties had a succulent, flavourful filling and the lotus root retained its mild crunch and sweetness.
We ordered one dish from the Sichuan section – sautéed vermicelli with spicy minced pork (HK$200). My guest – who can’t take much heat – asked for it to be toned down, but when it came, even I found it very spicy. The waiter took it away without complaint, and when it was served again it was perfect. This is a humble dish, but it’s difficult to make right so the bean starch noodles don’t become gummy. These were perfectly hydrated, separate but not oily, and the minced pork was evenly distributed.
Smoked jasmine chicken (HK$300) was another excellent dish, with a light smokiness and tender, moist meat.
The waitress recommended the stir-fried asparagus with truffle (HK$320). The fat, juicy pieces of asparagus were well-cooked, but what was supposed to be black truffle tasted more strongly of olive.
The only disappointment came with dessert. The deep-fried crispy glutinous rice cake (HK$30) was puffy and light, but it was a little too oily.
Fooklore, LG2, Empire Hotel, 33 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2861 2060.
About HK$700 per person without drinks or the service charge.
While you’re in the area: