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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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/