Sunday, July 28, 2013

Hong Kong - Fatty Crab 肥蟹

Malaysian inspired cuisine cooked up by a bunch of New Yorkers.  Hmm....  I had to think about that one for a bit.  I don't even eat Singapore/Malaysian food in Hong Kong since I get home quite a bit and don't get into crazy cravings.  So would I take the chance of a no-reservations place on a Friday night in Central for Malaysian food literally cooked up by New Yorkers (I didn't spot an Asian from the sliver opening of the kitchen door closest to our table).  Seriously.

No one spoke Chinese in the joint.  I don't even think they spoke English.  It was as Nu Yawk as the Statue of Liberty.  And it was Greenwich village vibe cool.  Good music and a wide array of fun cocktails.  They can do mock on request.  Definitely noisy and the acoustics amplified it.

And the food?

Like a lot of places these days which tout sharing so everyone gets a taste of everything, we were advised on picking from the different sections in the menu - raw, skinny and fatty.  They also have sides like in good ole fashioned America.  Since there were only 2 of us, we skipped to the chase and and had 3 fattys!

Watermelon Pickle and Crispy Pork
This was as good a pork as you can get anywhere, even in Hong Kong, where pork is the territory's meat of choice.  Pork is very much in our blood and we can have it in several courses of a meal.  But I digress.  This was perfectly crisp on the outside so it envelopes a melt-in-the-mouth combo of fat and flesh.  The watermelon was split into 2 categories.  The red sweet and juicy part we are all used to consuming especially in the thick of summer.  Then they pickled the pale green section between the red and the skin.  With a really really tart dressing reminiscent of the pickle dishes which many old school Chinese restaurants still serve, only much tarter.  There was also a lot of herb varieties over the top which reminded me of many-a-dish in Vietnam where herbs are the order of the day.  Nice, fresh and light for something from the Fatty section, but personally, I could do with just the out-of-the-world pork and fresh watermelon cubes.

Nasi Lemak
This was a 50/50 order since there isn't much you can do to justify badly executed nasi lemak.  But you know what?  It was good it its own right.  Not quite what you're used to on the streets of KL or even from a hawker center in Singapore, but this was nasi lemak at a finer level.  The piece de resistance was a very good piece of curry chicken leg which took center stage.  This dish could have been called curry chicken rice and still be great.  A slow poached egg when broken, added to the richness of the gravy.  Bliss.  Snags?  Sambal had too much heat and not sweet enough.  I would also have like a lot more ikan bilis but that's just me.

Chilli Crab
This scored points with me for the use of Dungeness crab, which I love.  And surprisingly, a really good Pullman toast which had chew to it.  The gravy was not the kind I'm used to although it went well with the toast.  This was not the eggy gravy with a tomato base but rather had a lot more sambal in the base and more pungent.  Wasn't bad though.

Peanut Butter kinda dessert
Perhaps the one disappointment was dessert.  We should have stuck on theme but got distracted as we would by anything with peanut butter in it.  Well, this dish probably suffered more from the choice of a jam jar as a serving platform since it was hard to get a little bit of everything making every spoonful messy and one-dimensional.  I also dislike whipped cream so it made it worse.  On a flatter dish, this would have been way more enjoyable.

Overall, lotsa fun and good quality food (just don't think of it as a Malaysian experience).  It's a theme restaurant for crying out loud.  And you do have to, to be heard over the noise, and to get past the only broken link in communication who stands out front waiting to receive guests.  Her aside, it's good service all round without the service charge.  Yes, tipping is "discretionary" (just like in America).

11-13 Old Bailey Rd.
Central District, Hong Kong
Tel: +852-25212033

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