Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hunan Garden Restaurant 洞庭樓

If it wasn't for my friend's introduction, I don't even know this place existed in the middle of Central. It turns out the restaurant has two outlets, one here at Exchange Square and the other one at Times Square which opened less than 2 years ago. The one I visited has been operating for many years, well over a decade perhaps. (note: it belongs to the Maxim group) According to my friend, the one at Times Square has a very contemporary as well as French / Victorian decor. The Central one has a very traditional Chinese decor. When I say traditional, I mean very Chinese kind of traditional and seems to me the decor remained the same for the past decade or so.

The first thing I realized when I arrived was the size of its dinning hall. It is huge! It is hard to imagine a restaurant with such open spaces nowadays, particularly Chinese restaurant. All you see is the color RED & PINK everywhere!!! Typical Chinese I guess. My friend has been dinning here many times over the years so she recommended some special dishes to recommend.

(1) Steamed Vegetables Dumplings 蒸素餃
I love dumplings especially vegetables dumplings. It is not easy to make good vegetables dumplings because the ingredients must remain fairly dry after being steamed. If the ingredients turn watery, it will ruin the whole thing. The vegetables dumpling here was very good indeed. Not only was the ingredients fairly dry (diced bak choy and sliced mushrooms), the skin was of the right thickness so one would not complain on the overly floury texture of the skin. Thumbs up!

(2) Fortune Hunan Ham 江山片片紅富貴火腿
This is a highly recommended dish from my friend. It is basically a Chinese style sandwich with quality Chinese preserved ham prepared along with some special honey sauce. It was very nice indeed. The sweetness of the honey sauce was a good combination with the slightly salty ham which was surprising tender as well. It was the first time I tried such a dish and it would be something I would definitely order again. (note: this item is offered on a per piece basis)

(3) Braised Sliced Cod with Noodles & Vegetables 洞庭樓燒銀鱈魚配麵
The presentation of this dish was definitely not something we expect, especially how the noodles are being served. Each of the three tiny noodles "stack" was of a single spoon size only, while the amount of sauce and number of fillets can serve up to 5 or 6 people at least. What if we have 5 instead of 3 people? Would there be 5 stacks of noodles or it will remain to be 3 only? So ... the number of noodles stacks depends on the number of people? As for the food itself, the cod was very fresh and tender but the sauce was a bit weak in taste; slightly spicy but the sweet and sour taste was definitely too light / weak.

(4) Deep Fried Chicken with Dry Garlic 大漠風沙雞
Although the meat itself was rather dry, it was a decent dish overall. One positive note I like to point out is how they diced up the dry garlic to a finer size. Usually the dry garlic being used would be very crispy (or even hard), dry and fairly large in size that it would be difficult to eat along with the chicken or standalone. What they did here (I assumed) was to make the dry garlic slightly smaller in size and a good job they did because it made it easier to eat / chew and the whole flavor sensation was a pleasant one indeed.

(5) Crispy Rice with Seafood 南湖三鮮鍋巴
I rarely order this dish but I am glad I did. The dipping sauce was freshly prepared with plenty of seafood and it was good enough as a soup by itself in my opinion. I guess there is no correct way to enjoy this dish, you can pour just a tiny bit of the sauce into the crispy rice so to allow the crispiness to remain or you can pour a lot of the sauce / soup into the bowl like I did so the crispy rice would become more chewy. Do it as you like. There were plenty of sauce and I think they should have provided us with more crispy rice to go along with the it. Somehow I feel like the there are no standard portion for some of the dishes, they are being served based on the number of people instead. (even when they dish was a fixed price item, not per person or etc) Maybe! I really don't know but I do wonder whether that is the case.

  • Very good service (wrong dish was served initial but they took it back and prepare the right dish again very politely)
  • Thumbs up for Fortune Hunan Ham 江山片片紅富貴火腿
  • Steamed Vegetables Dumplings 蒸素餃
  • Deep Fried Chicken with Dry Garlic 大漠風沙雞 (especially the finer dry garlic)

  • Some serving portions seem to depend on the number of people.
  • Braised Sliced Cod with Noodles & Vegetables (why just 3 small stacks of noodles?)
Hunan Garden Restaurant 洞庭樓
3/F, The Forum,
Exchange Square, Central
Tel: 2868 2880

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