Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hong Kong - Fook Lam Moon 福臨門

I hadn't thought to come here at all.  Their Wanchai branch (actually the original location) has a much higher profile.  But on a weekday, who would have thought that a simple reservation for 4 people for a relatively early lunch spot at noon would NOT be available at the now elusive 3-Michelin starred Sun Tung Lok.  

Literally, a stone's throw from Sun Tung Lok, Fook Lam Moon turned out to be a not-too-shabby second choice.  This Michelin one-starred Chinese restaurant was more spruced up than I thought it would be.  The street level entrance was understated but as the doors swing open, a smiley host took us up one level by the elevator, landing us at a swanky bar area.  Swanky by Chinese restaurant standards, that is.  It's not your hip, chill-out lounge type place.  As we were led to our table, smiles and greetings descended upon us.  Highly unusual for a Chinese restaurant but a big round of applause to whoever manages and trains their staff.

Despite the modern decor, what we got was actually good quality old-fashioned Dim-Sum.  This long-time established restaurant showed its commitment to using good produce and letting them speak for themselves, with simple yet traditional preparation methods which enhance rather than overwhelm.

Deep Fried Spring Rolls 春卷
This was my favorite at lunch.  A well fried spring roll that was a dry crisp on the outside, housing generous chunks of crunchy shrimp and tasty pork pieces on the inside.  Nothing minced, just the whole of everything so you can savor the absolute freshness within.  And as T told us the story of how the Fook Lam Moon name was derived, biting into the spring roll was that much more fulfilling.  Fook (福) which means Happiness in Cantonese, and Lam Moon (臨門) which means "at your door", is apt for all the culinary goodness this family used to bring to Hong Kong families in the good old days, when house catering was the rage.

Shrimp Dumplings 蝦餃
I used to love Shrimp Dumplings until my palate got so sick of biting into mediocre to bad versions.  As a kid, I used to dig out the insides for my brother and just eat the translucent skin.  There is something about a well kneaded dough that when steamed is soft and slightly chewy but without that greasy aftertaste we get from so many average dim sum places today.  This version from Fook Lam Moon ignited that spark I once had.

Crispy Roast Pork 燒腩仔 
This was surprisingly not as good as it looked.  It was competently roasted, and the skin a perfect crisp.  But the cut of pork wasn't my favorite almost melt-in-your-mouth part.  Slightly more meaty (read chewy) than I would have liked.  Still decent even if not my cup of tea.

Steamed Shrimp Rice Rolls 鮮蝦腸粉
Another goodie reminiscent of the old days.  Layers and layers of steamed rice flour folded against each other, and encasing fresh crunch shrimps.  Served on a bed of quality soy.

Radish and Fish Patties 蘿蔔鯪魚餅
This arrived understated and what we all thought to be the usual Dace-based fish patty turned out to be a delicate mixture of julienned radish interspersed with minced Dace, resulting in a texture short of creamy protected by a lightly crispy exterior.  Surprisingly enjoyable and kudos to E for spotting this on the menu.

Fu Yong Omelet on Vermicelli 芙蓉蛋煎米
All Hong Kongers love their eggs.  Any dish with eggs is already almost a winner and all you need is execution to make it a home run.  The omelet here was very good.  Lightly golden brown and fluffy on the inside, almost cushion-like, made tasty from the shrimps and pork within.  The vermicelli however suffered from a lack of taste.  If this was made at home, you would say ok, we could all do with a lot less salt, but this was almost bland.  We were happy enough because we had been pampered by the quality of the preceding dim sum, and savoring the omelet.  On its own, however, the vermicelli would have been slammed.  A bit of a shame considering it was well sealed to a crisp.

Steamed "Malay" Cake 馬拉糕
For dessert, we all voted for the traditional "Malay" cake.  A Cantonese favorite at traditional restaurants, I have no idea why it's called "Malay".  There are so many theories that can be made about this one, given the proximity in the region between old Canton and Malaysia.  Anyone care to speculate?

While pricey for dim sum in a land where every other shop offers dim sum, Fook Lam Moon's offering is positioned for those who appreciate the old world goodness and perhaps this explained the average age of the customer (excluding our table and the group of young Koreans next to us) was about 65 and up.  Don't write them off, 'cos they obviously know a thing or 2 about real food.

Shop 8, 1/F
53 Kimberley Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
+852-2366 0286

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