Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hong Kong - The Chinese Restaurant 凱悅軒

One of the perks we get at work is an assigned budget to spend any way we like with our department colleagues to team build or eat on in some cases, both converge into one thing.  This year, we decided to eat again, but go and try a new place.

The Chinese Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency in TST is set in modern surrounds, unlike a traditional Chinese restaurant.  Quiet and serene, plush seats for comfortable seating, and plenty of privacy given the distance between tables.  I would go again if I had to entertain over Chinese food.  Only snag, it is lacking any view through its floor to ceiling windows, an unfortunate function of the hotel location and height of the restaurant.

Since we had a budget to meet (and it was some challenge getting there), we skipped the dim sum options and ate like we wanted the dinner of no return.  Food wise, we thought that overall, it was a decent experience although there wasn't anything really outstanding that we would remember this place by.  Here's what we had and what we thought were "hits" or "less than hits".

Char Siu or Roasted Pork with a sweet glace
Hit: one of the better Char Sius out there.  Served warm (albeit probably microwaved), it was the perfect cut of loin with enough fat to moisten but not overwhelm.  Sauce was a nice fragrant soy base but with enough of a sugar glace to lend a sweet aftertaste.   

Smoked Braised Chicken
This was well executed and  a nice take on the usual soy braised chicken you get from most roast meats stalls in Hong Kong.  The fragrance and smokiness from the tea leaves came through and the chicken was braised well to retain its own moistness.  But somehow, wasn't a wow with me and we got distracted by the other dishes which came fast and furious.

Hot and Sour Soup
A surprising winner.  This won't win accolades for traditionality in Sichuan but it won on its unusual sourness over heat.  Well neutralised for Hong Kong taste buds, although a perfect appetiser for its piquant tartness but not face-scrungily so.  And generous chockful of ingredients from seafood to Yunnan ham shreds to bamboo shoots.  

Buddha Jumps over the Wall 
This double boiled soup contained the works, not forgetting the pretty large abalone (discounted some since we're pretty sure it was canned rather than of the sun-dried variety).  It's one of the clearest versions that I've had, with others usually thicker and collagen filled from the fruits of the sea used to make this over hours on the boil.  This version had the abalone, sea cucumber, fish blubber, sharks' fin and lean pork.  You can taste the goodness of the ingredients but the umami was somehow missing.  Folklore has it that even the vegetarian Buddha jumped over the wall of his monastery to attack his neighbour's concoction, but I'm pretty sure this version, while good, won't have the same effect.

Deep Fried Large Wanton
This is a gigantic wanton.  The largest I've ever had.  I like deep fried but I can't like it for too long since the grease is too much.  Well, I ate the whole thing.  The fritter was surprisingly fragrant and had a subtle touch of sweet.  The pockets were filled with different things.  Mine had a bit of Char Siu, yes the winning piece we started with.  

Sweet and Sour Sauce
And here's the reason I finished the whole wanton.  The accompanying sweet and sour sauce filled with larges pieces of char siu and whole scallops and tomatoes and bell peppers.  This has got to be the freshest tasting sweet and sour sauce I've ever had.  Typically, you expect traces of ketchup.  Not in this one.  This one tasted like the tomatoes were reduced from freshly plucked to the consistency of ketchup.  Slathered over the wanton, you would want more wanton just to have more sauce.  A vicious cycle for anyone on a diet. 

Stir Fried Mung Bean Vermicelli
This one was great at first bite.  Then the aftertaste of ginger lingered on for a little too long, and masked the yummy ingredients of crunchy bean sprouts, omelette and mung bean vermicelli.  From great to good, this was.

Stir fried egg white with shrimps
Perfect with the bowl of rice we did not have.  Ask for vinegar (of the Zhejiang variety) if you order this since it wasn't served with.  The egg whites are more milky than the traditional version but some like that.  To each his own.  

Garouper done 2 ways: 1. Stir fried slices
This was a passable "ok".  The fish was fresh and therefore the chef's slightly heavy hand marred the execution.  It was a little salty, a little too brown, a little too much ginger.  So a little too bad. 

Garouper done 2 ways: 2. Steamed garouper head
The steamed version was a little better but too much garnish again spoilt the fresh fish.  If I came again, I won't order this since for the price, you are much better off with a whole steamed fresh fish where you can enjoy the natural sweetness of the fish.

Herbal jelly with Pomelo and Sago
To end, I was happy with my choice of the herbal jelly in a pomelo and mango sago.  Very fresh and light and a good way to end off a heavy meal.  This version is a slight twist over the usual ala Fatt Kee (a popular dessert joint in the territory and most famous for the sago concoction).  I can't recall if it won an intellectual property suit in the local courts against a competitor over who invented this first, but whatever it is, this has become a national dessert, and also well known in the Chinese speaking community around the region.  

Overall, The Chinese Restaurant was a lovely place to just bond with the team in nice quiet surrounds, with inane conversation outside of the work place.  Food was enjoyable and I would go back just to try the other regular dishes.

3/F, Hyatt Regency Hong Kong
18 Hanoi Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852-2311 1234

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