I was slightly underwhelmed by the Chiu Chow food we had at Chiu Chow Garden. I hadn't eaten Chiu Chow before and I'm not totally sure whether the problem lay with the cuisine as a whole, with the meal we had at Chiu Chow Garden or with an over-excited level of expectation on my part. I'd done a quick bit of pre-dinner internet research which suggested that Chiu Chow is a comparatively healthy type of Chinese cuisine with an emphasis on seafood and vegetables, and on steaming and poaching. It all sounded rather good: back to basics, a focus on select ingredients rather than a heavy sauce.
It didn't start too well because I really wasn't taken with the thimble of bitter oolong tea that they served before the meal. I'm sure it is good for you. Or, at least, I hope it is good for you because, frankly, it verged on the undrinkable and apparently it is traditional at Chiu Chow restaurants.
I wasn't sure about the menu either - the offer of a fish "cooked alive" and a double-boiled soup of snail's head and chicken feet - just didn't do it for me. However, despite the initial concerns, the food was good, particularly the soyed sliced goose. The steamed mullet with salted lemon in Shantou style was tasty and the sauteed sliced lotus root, lily bulb and green vegetables were cooked well (despite the fact that lotus root and lily bulbs are not up there in my list of all-time favourite veggies).
All in all, the food was beautifully cooked and tasty but I just couldn't get excited about it. I can't quite put my finger on why but it just didn't wow me. Annoying because I thought it might.
I love this place. Unfortunately, it seems that most of Central's office workers agree with me because it is damn difficult to get a table at lunchtime. Being in the IFC, it can't exactly be described as cheap but it's not bad in comparison to some of its neighbours, and the decor/atmosphere make it a great place to go for a gossip-y lunch!
I have to admit that I'm not usually tremendously adventurous, tending to opt for pho noodles, but on the occasions that I have branched out, the food has been good. Recently we had both the Vietnamese spring rolls and the infinitely more healthy summer rolls, made entirely from raw vegetables (and the pho noodles, of course - I'd hate to break a tradition).
Reliably good food in a stylish, conveniently located restaurant. What more could you ask for your lunchbreak?
Oh my god, the most expensive meal I've ever had. And, while a really fun evening, definitely not the best value for money...
I started with the carpaccio of blue fin tuna, baby roquette, English pea puree, white truffle oil and fleur de sel which sounded amazing. I was so excited. Frankly, it was underwhelming. There just wasn't a lot of flavour, from either the tuna or the pea puree. And, really, putting it all on a huge plate just emphasised the fact that you weren't getting a lot for your $180.
If you happen to be a serious steak enthusiast then I'm sure you would appreciate the 8oz Wagyu beef fillet mignon and wouldn't mind forking out HK$1,480 for it but frankly, while I reckon I can tell good steak from ok steak, I can't tell great steak from good steak and so I did slightly resent paying HK$465 for the cheapest steak on the menu. The inner-Yorkshire in me also felt slightly aggrieved that they wouldn't throw a few veggies in for that HK$465.
On the plus side, the decor is chic and the service attentive but somehow it just doesn't quite take the sting out of receiving the bill at the end of the meal. Particularly, when you're paying that much for water.... Expensive bottled water from the other side of the world is absolutely one of my pet hates (the inner-Yorkshire coming out again). Dakota Prime had a whole host of over-priced water, Norwegian, Spanish... HK$80 a bottle. For water.
Sushi Kuu is not a credit-crunch friendly place in the evening but thankfully, it does its bit for those whose wallet is currently a bit sensitive by offering a pretty extensive set lunch menu. Considering the quality and location (right in the middle of Central), it's very good value for money. The sushi plate was excellent and the service friendly, despite being heaving at lunchtime. The only downside was that we sat round the sushi bar and the sushi chefs welcomed every customer in a very loud, sudden way which surprised me each time! It all got a little annoying...
My first experience of lunch at Island Tang was rather underwhelming. The sophisticated decor was great and the atmosphere lively with the buzz of a Parisian cafe, but the food was expensive and lacked an edge. I felt at the time that it might be the fault of the set menu, having a little bit of a churned out feel to it, so this time we made the point of sticking with the dim sum menu. It was a hundred times better.
The menu isn't huge but is sufficient for a filing lunch, and the dim sum was fresh and flavoursome. In particular, the prawn rice paper rolls were excellent, filled with huge and juicy prawns.
Surprisingly the bill wasn't as large as I'd expected (not that I'd go as far as to say that it was cheap - you pay for the setting). All in all, it's relative good value for a sophisticated dim sum lunch in a smart, sophisticated setting. Definitely a place to take visitors to in Hong Kong...