Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hong Kong - Mandy's Private Kitchen

It's not just a dining experience, it's an excursion in itself.  A recent Sunday excursion with some like minded foodies turned out to be so grand we ate for almost 6 hours..  But set against what is probably Hong Kong's most scenic district, you don't do yourself justice if you're just there to eat.  Even in Hong Kong, where the food scene is so varied, you'd be hard pressed to find, let alone learn about Caribbean cuisine so it's a bonus when you meet Mandy and her husband, who've lived there and even have Trinidadian roots.

From my limited experience with food in that region, I did find a lot of Indian influence in what was served.  And I suppose from a historical perspective, that shouldn't be a such a surprise.  But the presence of Rum is probably what keeps it unique to that part of the world!

Rum Cooler
Step in from the summer heat and humidity, and Mandy offers you a Rum Cooler.  Quite a reprieve, and makes you wish the beach was a lot closer so you can dip yourself both in rum and the sea at the same time...  But Mandy's starters are a nice way to get the gastro juices churning...

Mango Salad
A deceptively mildly spicy and tangy mango salad is addictive and you only realise a little later when the heat kicks in, that it's all worth the pain.  If not for what my Chinese physician warned about eating too many mangoes, I could have finished this one easily.

Chick Pea and Tomato Salad
I love Chick peas.  Add anything and it'll still be good.  This one was good from the sweet cherry tomatoes and fragrant from the spring onions and coriander generously interspersed within.

Here's the Caribbean/Indian answer to French Fries.  Slightly healthier (I convince myself) from the use of gram flour, they are as addictive as french fries or even more so since the spices used give it a third dimension so you don't tire of it easily.    

Home-Made Condiments
Mandy goes the whole hog and has a good variety of condiments she does herself.  My favorite was the Scotch Bonnet pepper based one and the Mango and Raisin Chutney.  Really quite out of this world.

Caribbean Corn and Honey Bread
There are many cultures out there that do corn bread as a staple of their diets.  Mandy's version has a hint of sweet from the honey but is not overly cloying.  It is less moist than the Western versions which tend to be a little bit more cakey so some might find this too crumbly.  I liked the taste and perhaps might have preferred it a tad more moist but the upside is feeling a little more healthy eating this version.  And it is even good after a few days if you warm it and spread a good butter across.

Breaded chicken breast
I'm no fan of chicken breast but this turned out better than I thought it would.  The chicken was actually still quite moist but the winner was the batter it was coated in.  A tasty version quite similar to the pop corn chicken KFC introduced some time ago, but of course this was made better with the Caribbean spices which spiked the batter.

Leg of Lamb
This was the piece de resistance by a long shot.  So good I packed a fair bit with me to go (the only upside to 2 others not showing up)!  According to Mandy, this was only marinated for 4 days instead of the usual 5, before being slow-cooked over a charcoal fire.  That just makes me want to go back to try the real McCoy soon.  I had fun with the packed lamb and even gave my colleagues something to enjoy by heating it up in the office microwave (much to the disgust of those who don't eat lamb..) and adding generous amounts of fresh mint for a real breakfast treat!  No brushing required..

Fish Curry
I was totally distracted by the lamb and had little of everything else served afterwards.  But I did remember the fish curry to be a twist to the usual types we have though.  This was a tangy version and rather appetising.  A refreshing change which Mandy claims she's still working on.  It was already pretty good I thought..  such a perfectionist.

This was my favourite after the lamb.  I know it doesn't look like much but Mandy painstakingly takes off the stalks and only uses spinach leaves for this.  It is way better than creamed spinach.  This is pure spinach leaves stir fried with garlic until it is almost of puree consistency.  And that's just how good it was.  With little else, the combination of the 2, mixed with spring onions and coriander is just nature's garden at its best.

Pumpkin was decent too but again I was too distracted at this point by the spinach and lamb given I had limited capacity left...

Coconut flavored rice
This was actually quite good, very similar to Nasi Lemak for people familiar with it in the South East Asia region.  This is actually a much wetter version and is a tad heavy but it was actually quite good with the tangy fish curry.

Rum cake and fruit jello
By this time, we were already trying to keep from rolling on the floor from a big feast.  But no feast is complete without dessert and Mandy's rum cake and a rum-laced fruit jello did the trick without sugar overload.  If I didn't have to eat and run, I would have savored it with a good coffee.  But I did leave happy though...

@deeseebeaucoup, thanks again for organising the awesome meal and it was a pleasure to have met @cheekyangelHK and @thefakefrog over cool chat and great food from @MandysPKitchen.  Can't wait to do it again.. 
5 minutes away from Sai Kung Town Centre
Tel: +852-98169946

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