Hong Kongers traditionally aren't good with spicy food. But with the rapid opening up of China over the last 2 decades, foods from all over China are gaining in popularity outside of China, including Hong Kong and even spicy delights are finding its way onto the dining tables of Hong Kongers, whose tolerance for spice have definitely grown over time. Of course, for the uninitiated, Hong Kong is a good place to try "spicy" food which for the most part, is neutralised to suit local palates.
Hunan Garden keeps the authenticity of the cuisines it represents although the heat factor is played down, which works well for me. It is also one of the few places in Hong Kong where you can enjoy food from Chairman Mao's hometown. Of course, it carries cuisines from nearby Sichuan and other generic "Chinese" foods as well.
My new friend SB likes his heat and lots of it, and I hope he wasn't trying to be polite but did seem to enjoy the few dishes I ordered. For those who like their beer, these will surely entertain.
The "water boiled pork slices" were milder than they looked and I have to say, rather addictive. Surprisingly, the pork used was good quality and had a fragrance, nice bite, laced with a little bit of fat for smoothness, and went well with the hot oil laced with lotsa chillies and sichuan peppers. Enough of a kick but not overly so as to make you think twice about fishing in for yet another piece.
The cod fillet with bean crumbs was very well executed. The bean crumb paste, sauteed to a slight crisp provided the crunch to the very oily and smooth fish. Even then you can still swallow and not get indigestion. And having this in between, gives a slight reprieve from the heat from the rest of the meal.
The Sichuan Fried Chicken with Chillies and Peanuts, is a perennial favourite for those who like their beer, and this poultry is better than the spicy chicken from KFC, which I secretly like. Unfortunately, the peanuts and chillies were not well done and did not add enough fragrance to what is usually a dish you can smell as it is being delivered.
Our other dishes of the Hunanese noodles with minced pork and the Stir fried string means with minced pork were ordinary but there are other vegetable and carbo dishes you can choose from so perhaps not these the next time around.
Overall, a decent meal but stick to what is being recommended, and you'll enjoy the experience more. One snag: despite the slightly Colonial decor, it is still a massive Chinese restaurant at heart with poor acoustics. Prepared to take your conversation a level or 2 up in decibels.
Shop 1302, 13/F
Food Forum, Times Square
1 Matheson Street