Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hong Kong - Le Soleil

As far as hotel food and beverage standards go, most would agree that Royal Garden Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui embodies high standards.  While unlikely in the eyes of many given its 4-star rating on rooms, the food and beverage outlets which include Inagiku and Sabatini are well in excess of 5 stars.  On the back of the benchmark, we decided to try Le Soleil, Royal Garden's foray into Vietnamese in bringing in the name from San Francisco where it has its roots.  Not new by any means, but it was our first time.

Set on the highest terrace within the hotel, it is a comfortable setting with spacious seating, much like dining under the stars but sheltered from the elements.  The decor is casual, and even with having to wait close to an hour for my guests, time passes you by easily.  The service is decent enough although we notice the system breaking down with the drinks - all of us having been asked twice whether we would like something to drink.  Attentive but spotty - but a small snag in the grand scheme of things.

The food experience was overall decent but loses out in wow factor to the other outlets.  Perhaps I am just that more a fan of Japanese and Italian cuisine, than I am of Viet.  By for those who love Viet, Le Soleil should not disappoint.

Our starter of the seafood and pomelo salad beats the Thai version hands down.  Fresher in taste with hints of fish sauce and lime cutting through, the absence of desiccated cocunut as with its Thai counterpart was a welcome change.  The seafood used was also crunchy and fresh.

The crispy Royal spring rolls were well fried and not greasy and was fresh to the bite when wrapped in crisp lettuce and dipped in the accompanying fish sauce.  Well executed although not spectacular.

The crab steamed in Vietnamese beer was a nice take on preparing steamed crab and the beer brought out the freshness and natural sea-sweetness of the crab.  Served on a bed of beer-laced egg white, it was easy to polish off the whole crab without feeling stuffed.

Of course, the greatness of every Vietnamese restaurant must be measured by its beef pho.  In this instance, we decided to do the upscale version which comes served with  Miyazaki beef.  Of course, the well marbled, melt in your mouth piece of meat, added to the decadence of the usually simple dish served at all times of the day, in still largely impoverished Vietnam.  No complaints though.  The staple of the stock was still well brewed, with enough of the beefy taste still there, made up with various parts of the cow, and served up, including tripe, brisket slices and a bouncy beef ball.

Vietnamese cuisine, being light and non-greasy, ensured we left room for dessert.  Their chocolate and banana pudding served up with a soursop sherbet, extended the theme.  Light and fresh, it was a nice finish to the meal.

3/F, The Royal Garden, 
69 Mody Road 
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852-2733 2033

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