Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hugo's (希戈餐廳)

It has been more than 2 years since it closed its door for relocation from the demolished Hyatt Regency to its current new location inside the new Hyatt Regency hotel next to K11 mall in TST. Hugo's to me is part of Hong Kong's dining history along with Amigo, Gaddi's, Louis's Steak House or perhaps Tai Ping Koon as well. Established since 1958, it was famous not only for its food but its wooden medieval decor with shields, swords and armor handing on its walls. During my last visit before it closed 2 years ago, one of the most memorable thing about this place was a hanging sign that stated something similar to the following: "No non-smoking seats are available." How masculine it was but no longer the case with the smoking ban in effect. Apparently many things were no longer the same as well, quite unfortunate indeed.

The new decor and atmosphere were contemporary yet ... ummm ... medieval enough?? with the old armors and shields hanging around. Another look it made me feel like I was sitting inside the great dining hall of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter movie, only dimmer. Tables were pretty spacious with plenty of booths for couples. While reading the menu, I noticed something very interesting, it was the background music. It was playing Michael Bublé and then was it 98 Degrees followed by Diana Ross? Anyhow, my point was that the play list was jumping all over the places through time, through generation.

Another surprise was its flimsy leather-bounded menu. Somehow it does not fit in my humble opinion.

The bread were alright, no surprised there.

Similar to its old establishment, many dishes were prepared table-side mainly for show and tell if you ask me. There were about a dozen table-size dishes, a few too many in my opinion.

Steak tartare was done table-size and it was good but slightly over spicy but I enjoyed it very much.

The Foie Gras Terrine fig confit was disappointing though. It wasn't mushy or nothing resemblance the melt-in-your-mouth texture, it was quite firm if you ask me. Okay it was flavorable but the texture was not for me. Thanks to smogblog's comment, I realized I have ignored the obvious and made an incorrect comment on the dish. It proves that I have much to learn and I am indeed learning from my mistakes! Among the different forms of foie gras, terrine is similar to pate in which the meat are forced together under pressure. If my research is correct, terrine is different from pate in which it uses mostly foie gras (above 80%?) instead of a lower percentage of foie gras for the pate. With that taken into consideration, the texture should be tougher / firmer than the usual whole of foie gras which they were prepared so that evening.

Thinly sliced Bayonne Ham was a delight, quite enjoyed it. The ham was not overly salty and the melon was of the right sweetness.

My friend ordered Rack of Australian Lam Provencal which was tender and very flavorable. It was slightly better than the steak! How so? Let me continue then.

Many of us ordered steak, mine was the Rib Eye, medium rare as always. However, it was a bit too tough even for a rib eye and not as beefy as expected. It was medium rare as ordered but not as exciting as I expected, no WOW factor at all.

Guess what gave me the WOW factor instead? It was the side dishes! The Creamed Spinach and Mashed Potatoes were heavenly! The mashed potatoes were buttery in flavor but not in texture but reminded very silky smooth! I was (and we were) making the "ummmm" sound with our eyes closed while eating this. The creamed spinach was excellent as well, not as creamy as many restos would prepare. Just the right amount of creaminess! We literally CLEANED off both items!

As for dessert, the Chocolate Souffle was a disgrace! When we ordered it, we were informed that it would be different from the one before, it would less fluffy; however it was more like a CAKE! a CHOCOLATE CAKE! I didn't mind the size of it souffle but it was not a souffle; again, it was a cake, dry and hard as a cake!

Irish Coffee was prepared table side as well. why? I really have no clue, perhaps the heating of the glass was something worth show & tell? I didn't mind the show and tell as long as it was good but in this case it wasn't!

It wasn't layered properly and for some reason it was really watery, perhaps from the lack of the cream? Something wasn't right even from the look of it, the glassware perhaps? Shouldn't the cream but filled up to the top?? A wine glass for Irish Coffee? ... Yes the picture was taken right after it was served, no time lapse! The previous Irish Coffee experience in HK was at Louis' Steak House.

The meal was ended on a pleasant note with the wonderful Chocolate Bon Bon, which was essential ice cream filled chocolate crisp.While they were good, those offered by Amigo seemed to be better with a more crisp outer layer. The dry ice really made the presentation pretty exciting which aligned with its show and tell theme.

  • Wonderful mashed potatoes and creamed spinach
  • contemporary decor with plenty of medieval / gothic touches

  • Inconsistency in the background music / playlist
  • Disappointing Chocolate cake souffle
  • Irish Coffee in the wrong mug? glass?
  • Foie Gras Terrine fig confit firmer and tougher than expected I thought it was what I thought it was being the usual foie gras but it was prepared using the firmer terrine form, so I was incorrect in my initial assumption.
Note: Thanks to @Jack's comment / reminder, I like to add the following as well to my dining experience here at Hugo's >> @Jack: Thanks for dropping by! Now that you mentioned it, let me tell you what happened to the Prime Ribs haha ... 2 of us wanted to order the famous prime ribs (and I heard that Hugo's actually hired a chef just to make that dish) but while ordering, we were kindly informed by the staff that the prime ribs for the day were not of top quality and suggested that we should order something else; and so we did. Interesting wasn't it ... I should have mentioned that above, let me add it! thanks for the reminder!

Avg Spending: Above HKD 500 per person

Hugo's 希戈餐廳
Lobby Level, Hyatt Regency Hong Kong,
18 Hanoi Road, TST
Tel: 3721 7733

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Pete said...

Thanks for the update on Hugo's! I was a great fan during its old days. Their lobster bisque, prepared table-side where the waiter fried then de-shelled the lobster, was unforgettable then. Shocked to hear about its choc souffle though - they obviously over-baked it, you should have sent it back!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this and other excellent reviews.

You might though want to research the difference between Foie Gras, and Terrine of Foie Gras.

I would expect a terrine to be reasonably firm, certainly not "melt in the mouth" like a pure foie gras - they are quite different dishes.

Jason said...

@smogsblog: thanks for pointing out the error! Really appreciate your help! It proves that I have much to learn and rather .... careless in ignoring the obvious, believing in what I thought I thought it was! Thanks!

JaCk... said...

I can't even remember how many times I've been to Hugo before they renovated. But I must say, it doesn't give me the same feeling or quality of food it used to have. I can only give it an 8 out of 10.

Don't get me wrong, I'm writing here because I agree with you. But you should have tried the prime ribs. That's what they are famous for.

I feel currently they are a modern place pretending to be old school. I think they should have either went OLD all the way or NEW. It's kind of in-between. Open kitchen doesn't suit their style.

Jason said...

@Jack: Thanks for dropping by! Now that you mentioned it, let me tell you what happened to the Prime Ribs haha ... 2 of us wanted to order the famous prime ribs (and I heard that Hugo's actually hired a chef just to make that dish) but while ordering, we were kindly informed by the staff that the prime ribs for the day were not of top quality and suggested that we should order something else; and so we did. Interesting wasn't it ... I should have mentioned that above, let me add it! thanks for the reminder!

Jason said...

@Pete: I wanted to send it back but the staff keep on saying this is the new and updated version compared with the previous souffle before its move. (I really wonder if the staff who informed us actually tried the old one before)

HK Epicurus said...

I am actually a bit perturbed to see the above Foie Gras dish being sold by Hugo's to be a Foie Gras Terrine if you ask me - unless they moulded it back into a liver lobe's shape, it does not look like a terrine at all. :O (Although some people call sliced but un-moulded pieces of liver terrine as well, but I think its not not technically correct!)

As for Terrine vs Pate, I had the same question myself and its confusing indeed! A Terrine is actually the dish used for moulding shapes including most Pate's (but not exclusively so). The modern Terrine as a food definition can actually be the same as a Pate in some cases, but overall I find that on the market and under the newer interpretations, Terrines have more chunky meat or vegetables or gelatin in it, whereas Pate's are smoother, usually monotone beige in colour but still dense, not as fluffly as a parfait, which in turn is not as smooth as a mousse. (I think its related to the amount of over-run of air incorporated as well, or how its blended/whipped).

Anyone can feel free to enlighten me as its only what I observed in general so far but probably not conclusive! From BABED using new log-in name.

Jason said...

@Hong Kong & Macau Fine Food aka Babed: yeah! You can check out the pic of the menu >

I think there are so many varied food definition nowadays that they blur with the traditional meaning.

HK Epicurus said...

Thanks! One day I need to call them up and verify what they mean! To me that's the spirit of eating out and learning - rather than ASSUMING we're correct because we can't afford losing face and would rather keep repeating the same white lies. Thanks for menu pic link and your photos. ;P

Xtina said...

On your picture, the Foie Gras terrine looks hot? Normally terrine is always served cold (after cooking) and usually sliced. Also we don't do pate with Foie gras, pate will be made from normal liver. This is my french opinion :-)

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