New restaurants in Hong Kong: classic Cantonese fare at John Anthony in Causeway Bay
- Mini lion’s head was the favourite dish of the night, with the six balls having a soft, delicate texture and a rich sauce
- Some dishes were a letdown
Walking down into the basement space that is John Anthony is pretty impressive because of the eclectic decor. It’s interesting enough that you can almost forget that there’s no natural lighting.
When we booked for 7.30pm, we were told we’d have to return the table by 9.30pm, although throughout our meal, the restaurant was less than half full. Our servers were competent, but they should have told us we ordered too much; the starters – which turned out to be our favourite part of the meal – were much larger than we expected.
Beef tendon with soft smoked tea egg (HK$125) also came with pieces of tongue (not mentioned in the dish description). The pieces of tendon were soft and sticky, the tongue was toothsome, and the egg had a very runny yolk, which the server broke over the ingredients and instructed us to mix in so it added a rich creaminess.
The eel with mountain honey (HK$265) came in thick, meaty pieces that had a gentle crunch, and was served with tempura string beans. Mini lion’s head (HK$110) was the unanimous favourite dish of the night. The six golf-ball-sized balls had a soft, delicate texture and a rich sauce. This dish, with a bowl of rice and some vegetables, would make an excellent lunch.
When I called to book a table, I pre-ordered one of the signature dishes, the roast goose (HK$220 for a quarter, HK$390 for half, and HK$790 for whole; we had half). It was a very good version; although it could have used a little more seasoning on the inside of the bird, the meat was moist with a deep flavour, and the skin was crisp. It was served with delicious cucumber pickles.
Australian wagyu beef char siu (HK$120 for a small portion, HK$280 for large) was surprisingly good, with a nicely balanced glaze that made the meat taste like char siu made with pork instead of beef.
The rest of the meal was disappointing. Sweet and sour Iberico pork with pickled ginger and dried tangerine peel (HK$180) was – strangely – too sweet and too acidic (I’m not sure how they managed that), and the tangerine peel overwhelmed. The best part of the dish was the dehydrated pineapple slices.
Far worse was the deep-fried soft shell crab with bamboo charcoal powder and golden garlic (HK$210). There was no mention of chilli on the menu, so when the waiter asked how spicy we wanted it, we though it was strange, and told him that the chefs should make it as they normally would.
When the server put it down on the table, he called it “typhoon shelter crabs” – but it wasn’t anywhere near as delicious as the ones you get at the restaurants around Jaffe Road in Wan Chai.
It certainly looked dramatic, with the charcoal powder batter making the crab pieces a deep black contrasting with the vivid orange-red chilli flakes. But it was one-dimensional and too spicy, tasting just of ground chillis that were not balanced by other ingredients.
John Anthony, Shop B01-B10, Basement One, Lee Garden Three, 1 Sunning Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 3105 3668. About HK$390 without drinks or the service charge.
While you’re in the area