I was surprised when informed that we were heading to a private kitchen serving Vietnamese food in celebration of our friend's birthday. Vietnamese? Private Kitchen? It was something new to me indeed. It was tucked away somewhere near Tin Hau on Kings Road and there was no sign point you up so make sure you have the address with you. The interior was quite sharp yet warm in a sense, creating a rather homely atmosphere. A open balcony is also available for some chit chat before dinner.
While waiting for others to arrive, a few of us opened a bottle of 2003 Chateau Beaumont - CRU BOURGEOIS Supérieur Haut Medoc to enjoy. It was wonderful! Dry and smoky! Never too late for happy hour!
Cute Goldfish! :)
It was a set menu for the night and 22 of us, even the first item took them a while to serve. (I think the max capacity here is about 16, two round tables of 8). The first dish was Shredded Chicken with Cabbage. I was speechless because ... I don't know what to say. It was unsurprising and rather ordinary.
Now the Deep Fried Crab Cakes were much better, not just the presentation but flavors plus texture. I almost snatched the bamboo hat home! Almost!
Finally something new and interesting. I forgot what it was called but it consisted of some noodles and a piece of fatty pork on top. Apparently it was slightly spicy and you have to eat the whole thing in one go like drink shots. It was something different, something new which I enjoyed as well.
Classic Vietnamese Spring Rolls were not the ordinary kind in size, they were HUGE! Almost double the size of those you normally see in restos.
You can eat it by wrapping lettuce leaves or by itself. I opted for the lettuce leaf option but have to cut the spring rolls in half because it was too large for the lettuce to wrap around it! Of course, almost forgot, the flavors were fair and typical but smaller would do just fine because the larger it is, the longer it takes to cook and hence the outer layer can be overcooked at times.
Alright next came the Stir-Fried Vegetable, another very ordinary dish. Apparent they used a very special type of vegetable (a common ingredient in Vietnam) which is the upper part of the lotus stem that is above the soil (but still under the water). The owner spend quite a bit of time in explaining that to us with diagrams and etc. I guess it was part of the standard procedures.
By this time, it was already like 9:30pm, 1.5 hours since we started dinner. If you are to come, make sure they can handle the crowds, ask what they think is a good number. Anyhow, room temperature soup and rather weak, perhaps the number of guests were a factor?
Another 15 mins passed and came the Soft Shell Crap Rice Paper Wrap. This dish is similar the one offered by Rice Paper of which we have to make out own.
One of the owners of this kitchen kindly demonstrated how it was done. We have too apply some water (lightly) over the sheet of rice paper to soften with moisture and then start wrapping!
It was hard! I started off very nicely! And then the rice paper sheet was ripped apart!
Better to ask the expert to fix my problem and it turned out to be alright. It was fun to play with food but pretty annoying when you can't get it right! The soft shell crab was a bit soggy meaning been fried for a while in my opinion.
The next item was certainly for show and tell! Flaming Coconut Shrimps or something along the same idea. Honestly, setting fire at the bottom of the coconut is not going to make much a difference to the taste of the shrimps right? Anyhow, it was fun to watch.
Once the flame died down, the shrimps were placed inside the coconut to soak up the sauce / juice I suppose. One major thing the should pay attention to is the freshness of the shrimps. The texture of those we had was very ... mushy, which usually translates to frozen shrimps or not so fresh shrimps. This item have potential, just need some fine tuning in my humble opinion. Use of fresh ingredient is a key.
Very watery Curry with Duck. Only had a few bites with the rather cold fresh bread.
The dessert soup was again very watery and not sweet enough, it must have been the large number of guests and the size of their pots.
As mentioned, it was a birthday celebration so we were given Red Eggs to eat, a Chinese traditional items to share on one's birthday.
How can birthday be without any cake! I order a blueberry cheesecake from Antique Patisserie and it was very cheesy in a good way of course! Texture was firm and very good indeed. One of the most special moment in my opinion was seeing the singing lotus candles open up itself in with mini-fireworks! Did I mention it sings too?
- cozy / homely atmosphere
- mini-noodles - liked the way how they presented it and the hints of spiciness was good too.
- Flaming Coconut Shrimps - wonderful to watch but room for improvement in terms of flavors and texture.
- Overcapacity affected the food quality in a way, partly our fault I guess since we invited 22 guests.
- watery curry, flavors were rather light
- The coconut chicken soup was light in flavor but possibly due to the overcapacity issue once again.
Cuc Vietnamese Restaurant
2/F, Man Hai Building, 100 Electric Road, Tin Hau
Tel: 6683 7855
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