HateBites – Loong Toh Yuen @ Hullett House

One sunny weekend, we decided that we fancied some dim sum and that we would check out Loong Toh Yuen at Hullett House. It had already been a weekend of Hong Kong adventure, such as us lazy HK Islanders call it.  We had already once travelled over to the dark side that weekend in search of what my Korean girlfriend calls “the top place for Koreans to eat Korean BBQ in Hong Kong”. After a short MTR journey to Tsim Sha Tsui (easy enough) we proceeded to get lost on the streets of Kowloon, finally finding Won Pungwon after half an hour of walking around, only to get ordered around and given death stares by our halmeoni server. The reviews on Openrice are quite hilarious – I also had a similar experience with the service, although the food was pretty awesome.

DSC02594

Loong Toh Yuen has a main dining room and a couple of separate side dining rooms, set around a beautiful courtyard

Hoping for an enjoyable Sunday dim sum experience, we sailed over on the Star Ferry and then walked to the beautiful heritage building that is Hullett House. Having heard wonderful things about St. George at the same location (although now Chef Philippe Orrico has moved on to open Upper Modern Bistro), I suppose it was wishful thinking that Loong Toh Yuen would be of a similar standard – how painfully wrong we were.

Literally – painfully … we left with a bit of a stomach ache. I don’t post too many hatebites and yet sometimes it is a social necessity. Yes, it is all you can eat dim sum, so you understand if the standard is not as high as other places. But when only three of the dishes are of a passable standard, there is something wrong.

Loong Toh Yuen

Clockwise from top left: Char Siu Rice Flour Rolls, Pan Fried Rice Flour Rolls, Baked Turnip Puff, Baked BBQ Pork Puff, Deep Fried Glutinous Rice Flour Dumpling with Pork and Dried Shrimp, Salmon Spring Rolls, Steamed BBQ Pork Bun, Shrimp Dumpling Flavoured w/ Rose Champagne, E Fu Noodles with Mushroom and Chive.

DSC02603

Desserts – the lau sa bao are the best option in this restaurant

The only decent things on the menu were the steamed varieties, I imagine because they are the only things that have to be made freshly – the char siu rice flour rolls (cheung fun), the baked BBQ pork bun (char siu bao) were alright, and in the dessert section the custard steamed buns were the best thing on the menu. Literally translating to “flowing filling bun”, this bun spilled beautifully yellow, cholesterol-laden custardy goodness when pulled apart. Unfortunately, a lunch of only custard filled buns does not a balanced meal make.

All of the fried options tasted like they had been re-fried before serving. Biting into them, you are treated to the taste of oil before anything else. The e-fu noodles were a joke – they had been pre-prepared in bowls and so stuck together in one huge lump, and was completely devoid of chives or mushrooms.

This is all very unfortunate, as Hullett House is such a beautiful venue that attracts a large number of tourists. It would be a shame if someone who only had dim sum once in Hong Kong took away an oily, greasy memory when Hong Kong has such a plethora of amazing dim sum options.

Continue reading

Advertisements

LoveBites Day Out: Lei Yue Mun and the Island East Market

I woke up on Sunday with an urge to do something I’ve never done before. We hardly ever visit the eastern side of Hong Kong island, unless it’s to go to Director’s Club to watch a movie (leather reclining seats, they take your order while you sit, free hot dogs, free flow popcorn and soft drinks!), or to buy Japanese products at Uny. I had been hearing talk of Lei Yue Mun for the past week, and have been meaning to visit the East Island Market for some time now. In the spirit of adventure, we mapped out our plan for the day.

We caught the ferry from Sai Wan Ho Ferry Pier to Sam Ka Tsuen (check here for ferry timetable). At HK$6, it is a great way to experience a journey across the harbour, on a Kai-To ferry. There are only a handful of routes still served by the Kai-To on Hong Kong island.

Sai wan ho ferry

We left the Sai Wan Ho Ferry pier, and after a short 10 minute journey, we exchanged this skyline ….

Leaving Sai Wan Ho Ferry Pier...

for this one …

IMG_4418
Pretty neat, huh?

You arrive at the gate of Lei Yue Mun, just a short 4 minute stroll away from the Sam Ka Tsuen ferry pier.

IMG_4422

We walked through the narrow street of restaurants, pass the Chinese pastry vendor, the fish tanks, a local 士多, until we reached Lung Tang Restaurant at the very end. We dined by the water, and enjoyed the peace and quite (once we had gotten over the subtle stench of the nearby sewage pipe). Lung Tang Restaurant doesn’t have its own seafood tanks, so you purchase your seafood at one of the vendors near the entrance of the restaurant, and Lung Tang charges a small cooking fee to whip it into a feast for you.

IMG_4427

After being shown to our seats, we were then ushered to the fish tanks to choose our seafood at Ting Kee Seafood, aided by the very smiley Mrs. Yuen.

IMG_4425

IMG_4426

This handsome and quite hefty fella, our Philippine lobster, was soon to be our lunch.

Continue reading

Joia Ristorante Italiano – Elements Mall

Last night we went to watch Looper (if you haven’t gone to see it yet, I highly recommend you do very soon)!! Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a tasty one, yet we still needed some real food, and so we made a choice from the dining options in Elements Mall. We usually go to Prime Steak House because we know it’s good, and it’s always the busiest restaurant in Civic Square, which is always a good sign. However, we wanted to try something different this time, and when I asked PB if he fancied Western or Asian f0od, he replied “Something good”.

Well, despite the large number of restaurant choices in Elements Mall, “something good” usually falls in the Asian category – I find the Western options slightly lacking (unless you go to the Ritz Carlton or the W Hotel of course, but that is a different ball game). After a little research, I happily discovered that Joia is part of the Gaia Group (which includes Va Bene, Gaia, Isola etc. ), and Gaia is one of my favorite restaurants. Of course the downside of this choice would be that I would compare Joia to it’s sister restaurant, but considering that the price point is about the same, I assumed it would be an even comparison.

Unfortunately, that was not the case. Continue reading

Seeing Stars: Tasty buns and tonic medlar @ Tim Ho Wan

To dim sum, or not to dim sum? If it is 1pm on a Saturday or Sunday and you have just woken up with a mean hangover and only a vague recollection of what time you got home the night before – then this question is moot. If there is a reaaally good dim sum restaurant in the vicinity, then the need or desire for a chippy, kebab shop, greasy spoon or hot dog stand simply ceases to exist. Dim sum is not only the perfect hangover cure, it is a great meal to share with family and friends: you can order slowly and gradually to savour the food as well as the company, and try a bit of everything. It’s a perfectly balanced meal (a bit of fried stuff + a bit steamed stuff + a plate of green stuff = a relatively guilt-free meal), AND you can drink copious amounts of tea! Have a cup of long jing(Dragon Well) tea  HT recommended it once as the best hangover tea and I have never looked back.

I digress. Dim sum in and of itself really deserves its own post. My point is that dim sum has always been a brunch or lunch time affair for me. When I ended my detox early, my friend JY was very excited. He had been raving about Tim Ho Wan(添好運點心專門店)- translated literally as ‘Add Good Luck’. It is Hong Kong’s cheapest 1 star Michelin restaurant – in fact, it’s most probably the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world. THE WORLD! “Let’s go TONIGHT!!!”, he says, in a pitch several octaves higher than his normal voice. Continue reading