This has to be one of the rather low profile Chinese restaurants in town, situated in the middle of the Central district, hiding in one of the corners of a commercial building. It's logo with a cartoon character looks more like a fast food joint than a fine dining scene in my opinion. I have heard good reviews about it and it was time for me to pay a visit, particularly for its Char Siu (BBQ Pork). One thing worth noting, I am known to over order 95% of the time but at this restaurant on this very night, I was told I ordered too few dishes and must continue ordering for a party of 8. So what happened? While most of the dishes we ordered were beyond expectation in terms of quality, their sizes were undoubtedly way to small, freaking small to be honest! I was once told that a food trend in 2011 is how portion of food is to be even more delicate in sizes, most items would be of sampling sizes perhaps? Let's wait and see shall we ... ...
One of the first reaction when you enter the main dining room (at least it was my reaction) was a quick look around at its decor and how the atmosphere resembles that ... of Shanghai in the 1920s? Not that I have personally experienced the 1920s Shanghai but it seemed to be the atmosphere would have been tailored for the bourgeoisie back in the old days. (perhaps the same still apples ...)
The BBQ Pork (Honey Glazed) aka Char Siu lived up to its fame. It was juicy, soft and tender, closest to the melt-in-your-mouth texture you can get for BBQ pork thanks to the pork Collar-butt cut being used. However, if you are looking for the more chewy, firm-to-the-bite, fatty and meaty type, the char siu here may not be for you.
The Vinaigrette Jellyfish was ... blah ... nothing much to say except the portion was TINY even for 2 in my opinion! Even the picture is boring!
Bite size Roast Pork Belly was wonderful, the thin layer of fat together with the thin crispy skin crackle with a slight touch with my teeth made it a perfectly wonderful appetizer while not overly heavy.
The stuffed crab shell looked much like a bun! I tried to move it around for the picture but failed miserably so there you have it. Rich in crab flavor and meaty on every bite.
Sweet and Sour Pork, a classic Cantonese dish which is quite hard to master in my opinion. I could not really recall much about this dish here exact that the batter was thin enough while keeping the pork rather moist. The fact that I could not recall much tell you a lot I guess.
Deep-fried Scallops stuffed with pear and shrimp paste. The pear part caught my attention but at the same time slightly disappointed me as well. It was a subtle flavor as expected but overly so that I think it was the contrast in texture that they were looking for instead of the flavor? Then again, maybe it was my taste buds?
Baked chicken with sesame in rock salt was a thumbs up for me. Not the best presentation one can find but hey they tasted good with more than subtle sesame flavors and the skins remained quite crispy throughout. Meat was not dry and great to go with some white rice if you ask me.
Deep-fried spare ribs marinated with shrimp paste. Lei Garden also offer this as one of their specialties but both places seem to disappoint me to a certain extend. Why? The flavors were decent but if you look closely at the picture below, you can see how the layer of fat and meat were clearly defined with majority of it being fat. How should the ratio be between fat and meat? Is there any standard ratio? Not sure but I would prefer it to have more meat rather than fat. What about you?
Another famous dish according to the staff was the Baked Pork Chop Rice with Tomato Paste. This is a very classic Hong Kong styled dish commonly found in many local eateries and by offering it at such fine dining venue at 3x the average cost, it better be good. Was it? Not at all in my opinion.
I have to be fair here because the sauce was not as intense (or artificial) as those you would have at Cafe de Coral or Fairwood (both are Chinese fast food chains FYI) so I do appreciate that. However, the pork chops themselves were quite dry and the rice just wasn't exciting enough. I honestly prefer Fairwood's baked pork chop rice with tomato sauce of which the pork chops were more tender, thicker and juicier despite the thick tomato paste on top. Did I mention it was 1/3 of the price as well? Yeah, I know I should not compare it this way but I really can't help it.
X.O. chili sauce wok-fried rice noodles with beef. That's a mouthful to say in English indeed! One of my friends who joined dinner was in the Chinese restaurant business and he gave two thumbs up for this dish for two main reasons: (1) the amount of XO chili sauce used was of the right amount to give it the slight kick in flavor and (2) not overly greasy with just the right amount of oil. My friend wanted to check on the quality consistency and we actually ordered another dish just for that purpose + the portion was SMALL!! Aside from the portion issue, the second order came out equally delicious, a two thumbs up approval!
Recall how I mention I had to order more? well, the following dishes were extra orders! Steamed Shrimp dumplings, beef brisket in soup as well as BBQ pork pastry dim sums met our expectation in term so quality.
We ended our meal with baked barbecued pork, pineapple shaped buns. Another mouthful to say! I have to admit, it is indeed quite hard to translate even the most common dim sum items into English. The top crust looked crispy and it was. I wish I could have stuffed the whole thing into my mouth and let the inner fillings slowly burst out and combine with the sweet crust while I enjoy every bite of it. Alright, a bit too much details here right? haha
- X.O. chili sauce wok-fried rice noodles with beef - well balanced flavors
- BBQ Pork (Honey Glazed) aka Char Siu - soft and tender with a slight melt-in-your-mouth sensation. But some may perfect the more fatty type.
- Roast Pork Belly - thin crispy skin with just the right amount of fatty layers.
- very trendy portion = small!
- Baked Pork Chop Rice with Tomato Paste - while the fresh tomato sauce was decent, the pork chop was rather disappointing
Avg Spending: 200 - 300 per person
Island Tang 港島廳 (Hong Kong)
Shop 222, The Galleria Plaza,
9 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2526 8798
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