Tao Heung 稻香 – Tung Chung

LUCKY ON LANTAU?

tao heung - tung chung

When I said I would meet a friend for dinner in Tung Chung I never thought it would end up being a hotpot dinner! Life’s funny like that.  Serendipitous I would call it (nom nom). Tao Heung as it turns out is a chain of restaurants in HK specialising in Cantonese cuisine, dim sum and hotpot!

Pros

  • For a Wednesday night it was relatively busy but it still felt pretty relaxed and lacked the frenzy of similar establishments. A generous window seat for four gave the two of us room to maneuver and cook easily.  There was a family to one side and another couple to the other but we hardly noticed them.
  • The staff were very friendly and helpful.  They explained the specials, told us what wasn’t in season and were pretty attentive throughout.
  • The menu was BILLINGUAL! Always a plus in my books meaning we could happily order whatever we fancied rather than what morsels we could muster.  Tell a lie – my dining companion is fluent in Cantonese, but what I’m saying is a non-Cantonese speaking person could happily have ordered here.
  • Beautifully crafted dumplings – ‘gau choi gau’ (pork and chive dumplings) – tasted pretty good too!
  • After 9pm – most items drop in price by 50%.

'gau choi gau'

Cons

  • The soup – unfortunately not their strong point.  We asked for a yin yeung – half pork bone/winter melon (came with CORN!) half má là.  Both very watery and lacking in substance.  The má là wasn’t even oily! The pork bones gray and dirty looking – we took them straight out.

disappointing

  • The beef – we ordered the ‘premium US beef’ (the best I could see on the menu) but at $48 per order I shouldn’t have held out much hope.  It was fine but only consisted of about 8 very thin slices.
  • No loh bat OR dong gua – are you kidding me?
  • Worked out more expensive than I was expecting.  I know hotpot for two is seldom economical but $500 for 1 plate of beef, 1 plate of dumplings, tofu, veggies, mushrooms, noodles etc seemed steep at the end of it.

Would I go again – sure – it was easy and pleasant and if I were in Tung Chung again and in need of dinner I would certainly head back.

FYI – Wow – just found out the Tao Heung Group has over 60 different restaurants in HK!

No.3, Podium Level 1, Coastal Skyline, 12 Tung Chung Waterfront Road, Tung Chung
2947 7488
http://www.taoheung.com.hk
 
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A bit on the side

DONG GUA & LOH BAT

Last night the winds picked up, the humidity lifted and the temperature dipped (just slightly).  I was already meeting a friend for dinner so the obvious choice became hotpot (like we needed an excuse).  I had wanted to give Calf Bone King another bash only to be told they were experiencing a power shortage and to return in 2 hours. Aiieyah. What to do? We decided upon a large restaurant round the corner that happened to be part of the Star Seafood Group.

The hotpot was average and certainly not worth a review (the soup second-rate – need I say more) but in the midst of this mediocrity laid a gem or two.  Among the regulars we ordered, my dining companion suggested loh bat (daikon/white radish) and then dong gua (winter melon).

“Do you mean which would I prefer” I asked.  “No” was the reply,  ”I think we should order both”.

Against my better judgement, we went ahead and ordered both, and well wasn’t that the best idea.  They were probably my 2 favourite items of the entire meal – unusual for a staunch meat eater like myself!  The dong gua cooked in the broth until meltingly tender, the texture almost silky, the flavour subtle yet distinct.   In contrast the loh bat held its form and kept its bite.  The rich radishy flavour mixed with the broth resulted in something meaty yet almost sweet, and very morish – I couldn’t believe it.

Later that night as I was fondly recollecting my new found favourites,  it occurred to me that they were both yin foods, in other words, cooling.  With our chosen soup being a Sichuan ‘má là’ (surprise surprise) and hotpot being naturally ‘yeet hei’ (heaty) was it any wonder we found the melon and radish so soothing and so enticing at the same time?  Because that’s what it was like – I was compelled to eat more.  Perhaps it was my body’s way of telling me to balance out the meal or possibly it was just the perfect conduit for spicy soupy goodness on a chilly evening.  Whichever it was, loh bat and dong gua are unquestionably very “cool” and definitely more than just a bit on the side.

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CALF BONE KING (siu fei ngau) – tai po

PLEASANT SURPRISE

Admittedly I’m addicted to hotpot so I may be slightly biased here but ‘Calf Bone King’ was a chance meeting gone good. I’m a keen hot potter and usually venture into Central for quality fare. On a cold and wet Wednesday in Tai Po however, I needed something a little closer to home and to be honest I can’t be happier with what I’ve found almost on my doorstep.

Calf Bone King is no frills hotpot just when you need it most. There was only 2 of us so we couldn’t order much but here’s what we did have: Soup – a good selection, we chose straight maa laa and were not disappointed – no worse that any maa laa broths I’ve had at so-called ‘reputable’ hotpot restaurants in Wan Chai/Kennedy Town. Good selection of beef ranging from cheaper cuts up to a decent premium. Hand made balls – again as good as many other places. And then vegetables mushrooms, noodles etc. All nicely presented, healthy portions and decent quality.

As I’ve said the décor is no frills (I sort of felt I was in a cha chaan teng in Guangzhou) but the staff were efficient, friendly and helpful. They helped us muddle through the mostly Chinese menu and were happy to swap a plate of noodles when I’d mistakenly ordered the wrong type.

I will most definitely be returning there on other midweek nights when I get the pang for hotpot but probably because I’m an addict and there is nothing else closer. I wouldn’t take friends new to hotpot or my squeamish mother but I would suggest it to other hotpot loving comrades who wanted something more convenient or something more $200 a head than $400. Calf Bone King – thank you for making my Wednesday and no doubt many more Wednesdays to come!

Just a quick iPhone snap.

Shop B1, G/F, Mei Sun Building, 4-20 Kau Hui Chik Street, Tai Po
2666 7528
http://www.calfboneking.com.hk/
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MEGAN’S KITCHEN 美味廚 – wan chai

INTERESTING AND DIFFERENT

A friend recommended Megan’s Kitchen to me after it earned its “Michelin Bib Gourmand 2012” title this year, that is to say, it made itself into the little red book for serving “good food at moderate prices”. Hesitant to stray from my go-to hotpot in Coda Plaza (call me a creature of habit) it wasn’t somewhere I thought I would ever really get to. But in a week of cold weather warnings and new beginnings, I booked a table for 4 with slight trepidation.

DÉCOR

Like many restaurants on higher floors of commercial buildings, the décor was pleasant but nondescript, the strip lights here were not too harsh and the ceilings low. It wasn’t a steam bucket however nor was there an overwhelming smell of over boiled pot so I’m guessing the ventilation is first-rate. We were shown to a very roomy booth that the 4 of us thought was comfortable and slightly more private than the other tables. I would definitely recommend requesting a booth when making a reservation.

FOOD

Soup

Megan’s offers a large and what can only be called interesting range of soup options which was part of the initial draw. From an extravagant Stewed Chicken Soup Stuffed with Chilli ($368) which I feel inclined to return to try, to a more modest Winter Melon Soup with Lotus Seed, Dried Scallop & Chinese Ham ($68). With 4 of us with differing tastes, we went for the trio pot where you can choose 3 different soups, novel, yet in some cases convenient and very suitable for the more indecisive/greedy among us. Here’s what we picked:

“Sichuan Super Hot Chilli & Escargot Soup”
I believe a good soup is the basis and beginning of an excellent hotpot experience. This however was bog standard. Yes is was oily red with a few dried chillies and Sichuan pepper corns floating around but the flavour was the same as places where you’d pay half the price. “Super Hot”? Lets not even go there.  The escargot? Why bother, the shells took up valuable pot space and when one of us did dare try one we got a mouthful of grit.

“Tomato & Crab Soup in Soufflé Finish”
This was certainly impressive as it arrived at the table (in 1/3 of our trio pot) it was thick and frothy yet firm egg white and actually pretty tasty (best eaten before cooking) but again the soup base was pretty underwhelming. A watery tomato neither rich nor ‘sweet’ and I would have forgotten all about the crab flavour were it not for the two legs we subsequently found floating about the bottom.

“Malaysia Satay Soup”
As far as flavours go, I do not care for ‘satay’ in soups or sauces but in this instance it was more of a case of third time lucky. The friend I was with chose it as it is her favourite and I must say it was pretty good. Slightly spicy but not overwhelming, flavoursome with a good thickness to it i.e. not watery – probably the best satay soup I’ve had – but that’s not saying much.

trio pot

Beef
We went for 2 large plates of local snowflake beef. It was fine although I would say the pieces were thinner and smaller then I was expecting. For the price ($198) I’ve had better. If I went again I would probably try the Australia MB2 snowflake beef or maybe just the deluxe US fatty beef – always a safe bet.

Balls
Now here’s where things get interesting. Those of you who are hot potters will get what I mean here when I say – when it comes to balls I only like good quality and hand made, and Megan’s came through with that and more.   You cannot go to Megan’s and not try the ‘rainbow cuttlefish balls’ – we tried the assortment of 7 and enjoyed them all; red bell pepper, pumpkin, yellow bell pepper, spinach, spring onion, beetroot and purple sweet potato. They are a joy to behold – and really were as good as they looked.  The ‘special meat ball platter’ also very good – hand made, tender, flavoursome with a bit of “bounce” with our favourite probably being the beef.

rainbow cuttlefish balls

SUNDRIES

Dumplings – we opted for the curry beef brisket dumplings – FANTASTIC – everything you imagine them to be – I have a friend who is going back specifically for these!

Noodles – good

Vegetables – fresh

‘San Gun’ – gluten ball – portion a bit stingy

Fresh bean curd sheet – the best we’ve ever had – tasty with just the right texture and not a dried or shrivelled corner in sight!

SELECTION

The selection is wide and some of it unusual.  I fear we didn’t really take advantage of the more adventurous things on the menu, as they just didn’t appeal to us:

–        Tom Yum Koong cappuccino broth?

–        Pumpkin and pork with preserved duck dumplings?

–        Pork balls stuffed with mango?

–        Beef balls stuffed wth papaya?

But on the whole the food was good quality at a fair price.

The service was excellent with the staff attentive and friendly.  The menu is completely in English so no awkward ordering or gesticulating here.  In retrospection I’m thinking it probably wasn’t their hotpot fare that earned them a mention the Michelin Guide (Hell! You cook it yourself!) but hopefully their a la carte menu. For me, the question is always will I return, and to Megan’s, I imagine yes.  It won’t be a regular for me and I thought for what it was it was a bit on the expensive side ($500 per head X4) but its something a bit different and nice for a change.  It was enjoyable, novel and fun – despite some of the let downs – so when temperatures start dropping, give them a try!

 
5/F, Lucky Centre,165-171 Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai
2866 8305
http://www.meganskitchen.com/
 
 
 
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