Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Miscellaneous Food: Hong Kong Part 2

How cute is she? This is Ari, my friend's daughter and an absolute babe at the age of almost-2....

We rounded up our weekend by joining my friends for tea and then family friends for dinner and family lunch the next day. Unfortunately, I had no pictures from dinner which is a tragedy because it was easily the best Cantonese meal I've had for years. It was chosen by a friend who is a great connoiseur of food and I had never been to this restaurant before, although it's opposite the street in Wan Chai from Che's Teahouse.

This place is called Futong Cantonese Restaurant and if you ever get to go, gosh but I'd recommend it. I don't know what the prices are like but the food was stellar. We started with some local soup, then a stir-fried shark's fin and crab roe dish. Delicious! Then we had this braised chicken (you know how HK chickens always seem yellow on their skin, unlike the pasty pink Singapore ones) that had been stuffed with glutinous rice and mushrooms. Geez, it was good. My brother and I are fairly discerning with food and pick quite a bit over our plates but we licked every course clean at this dinner, then looked over at each other in a mixture of horror and disbelief.

The other dishes that were notable were the yummy fried rice and this obscure dish, which is pomelo skins, which have been slow-steamed for hours, until the porous husk becomes a soft, supple, yam-like dish. This is a old, traditional offering that is well-remembered by my parent's generation but doesn't make an appearence much anymore.

After staggering out of that restaurant, my parents went for a tour of Lan Kwai Fong while I went to join friends at the new Zuma. I didn't eat and the sushi bar looked both hip and promising but I have to say I was not impressed by the desserts, which were all nouveau riffs of pomegranate and banana and passionfruit and green tea with coconut rum kind of combinations that I find pretentious and jarring. The good part about Zuma is probably the drinks, they mix with a delicious variety of fresh fruit.

The next day, we awoke very close to lunch and hopped along through the Landmark building to get to the L'Atelier de Joel Rubuchon for lunch with my two cousins. I must admit that I had my reservations. After a horrid and freakishly expensive meal at L'Table de Joel Robuchon in Paris, the memory of the cold, unsmiling service was still etched into my brain. I've also been to the Robuchon a Galera in the Macau, which, although known as the finest French restuarant in Asia, is really a bizarre, luminous coloured empty birdcage of a restaurant in the seediest-ly prostituted casino. So I had some doubts.

The atmosphere was neat, if slightly empty and from the two streaks of crimson neon that parallel the escalator entrance to the black marble floor and red leather tables, this was definitely a dramatic restaurant. The walls of the counter were lined with scores of identical bottles of cleverly colourful capsicums and other vegetables and you could look through to see the chefs and head chef Philippe Groult, running the kitchen.

I was cheered to think that really one should eat at Joel Robuchon in Asia because you pay the same prices but in Asian currency instead of Euros! We went for the lunch menu set which was about $360 HKD or $70 SGD and the service was far more attentive and friendly than in Paris, although still quite Frenchy-snobby-wobby. Forget genuine banter and little surprise chef's specials, this ain't that kind of place.

We began with a lemon jelly with truffle cream and then we were served a beetroot carpaccio. These were interesting, though I felt, not very substantial dishes.

The second starter was probably the most interesting dish. It was a take on the usual presentation of scallops, these were pan fried, then served with a tempura-ed asparagus and dehydrated bacon. The whole thing was a very full, savory taste but it was so small. I couldn't really decide if, as a gourmet dish, it was fun (ie. clever) or funny (ie. unnecesary).

The mains were a salmon poached in chicken broth and a teriyaki chicken. Although the salmon was nice and soft, the chicken broth was rather oily and the teriyaki chicken was a rather disappointing affair, with a very thin cutlet and an unmemorable sauce.

The last thing we had was a refreshing dessert and my photo of it is not at all representative, as usual I tucked in before I took a photo (beginnings of a blog called "half-eaten" with my kind of photos). It was a coffee ice cream with mango and caramel, surprisingly, the tastes went very well together, although what the dessert was, was rather simple in execution. That's a fairly balanced statement about the whole meal really, that all in all, it was good although it wasn't mind-blowing. I felt a bit aggrieved that clearly, the set is just about satisfying your Joel Rubuchon curiousity and not really reflective of any breadth or depth in cooking.

Fu Tong Cantonese Cuisine
3rd floor Wharney Guang Dong Hotel
57-73 Lockhart Road,
Wanchai, Hong Kong

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Shop 401, 4/F, The Landmark, Hong Kong, China
(852) 2166-9000

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