Posts for the 'Chinese' Category


A Wong

A Wong is the latest ‘buzz’ Chinese restaurant in London at the moment and is the baby of chef Andrew Wong who has studied in kitchens throughout China. But Chef Wong already came from restaurant stock for his father use to run Kym’s, the Chinese restaurant that previously occupied the same space as A Wong. Basically Andrew has taken on the same address as his own and refurbished it with a more minimalist taste. The result is a restaurant with shiny surfaces and none of the Chinese chintz. Not that there is anything wrong with Chinese chintz, but this style is much more in keeping with Western ‘cool’.

Chef Wong’s solid bio shows in his menu with a diverse range of dishes drawn from throughout China. During the day he serves dim sum from Hong Kong, and in the evenings the a la carte menu includes touches of the Sichuanese, etc. The pricing of the menu is also fabulously cheap, something of a bonus in this day and age.

To the starters and sweet and sour ribs (£1.50 each) were tasty if a little overcooked leaving the outer layer of the rib a bit dry. The sauce was well made and had a lovely sticky, sweet quality to it that was delicious.

Sweet and sour ribs

Sweet and sour ribs

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Naga Restaurant

Naga Restaurant and Bar, located across the road from Kitchen W8 on Abingdon Road, is an Oriental restaurant that draws its influences from both Vietnamese and Chinese cooking. There is also a Pan-Asian twist to the menu, and Head Chef Syarief was recognised as the Best Pan Asian Chef in 2011 by the Asian Curry Awards. Naga Restaurant and Bar also won Best Chinese Restaurant 2012 from the Asian Curry Awards.

The décor is appealing, helped in part by the glass ceiling overhead that leads to a light and airy feel. It’s a comfortable, casual space that one can easily relax in.

There were four of us so had a large variety of dishes to share, starting with the silken tofu with ginger dressing (£5.70) that was lovely and smooth and very delicious. The dressing, with its sweet and savoury tones, worked really well with the tofu even if there wasn’t a strong hint of ginger. The deep fried coating around the tofu added a nice texture to it.

Silken tofu with ginger dressing

Silken tofu with ginger dressing

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China Zen

China Zen is located in the County Hall Building on Southbank and offers lovely views of Waterloo, Westminster and the London Eye. On their website they state that they specialise in Beijing cuisine, and according to some food blogs I’ve read, its Peking duck is allegedly its specialty dish. So when a TopTable 30% off special offer popped up I was rather excited. Peking duck and 30% off was something too good to miss.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I turned up at the restaurant to discover that the Peking duck was not part of the special offer. I might not have read the fine print properly, but it’s annoying when these specials hide a number of conditions. Nevertheless, I had come to China Zen to try the Peking duck, so offer or not, I decided it was still worth ordering.

But as it turned out it mattered little as the restaurant came back to us a few minutes after we had placed our order to inform us that they had run out of Peking duck. Run out of duck? On a Friday night at 7pm? What kind of restaurant runs out of their specialty dish at the beginning of service on one of their busiest nights of the week?

So began our calamitous experience at China Zen. We had also tried ordering about three different types of dumplings to be told that none of them were available. Intent on having some dumplings, we eventually stumbled on one which they said they had, only to discover minutes later that once again they were unable to deliver.

So we gave up on the dumplings and had the seafood and crabmeat soup (£5.80) and the salt and pepper squid (£7.80) for starters instead. Disappointingly, the soup was quite a small portion, and the ‘seafood’ quoted on the menu didn’t really consist of any seafood but some tiny shrimp that was extremely bland. It tasted as if it had been sitting in the freezer for far too long and all its flavour had been bled from it. The rest of the soup was decent with the crab being tasty.

Seafood soup

Seafood soup

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Ms. G’s Sydney, Australia

Ms. G's

Ms. G’s

All funky Sydney foodistas seem to looove Ms. G’s, a quirky, offbeat ‘Westernised’ fusion Asian restaurant located in Sydney’s pulsating Potts Point/Kings Cross area. Its décor is unconventional to say the least – a neon door out front, buckets hung from ropes, a graffitied wall, communal tables – all laid out over an impressive four floors of eating space. Its approach to dining is that it should be fun – take the bubble-tea cocktails on the menu, a twist on the bubble-tea ‘teas’ made famous by the Taiwanese. And that’s before we even hit its famed signature dessert of ‘Stoner’s delight’, where the secret ingredient for the dish was ‘the mind of a stoner’.

If there were there two things that were also going to guarantee Ms. G’s success, one would be that the Merivale Group is its owner, the multi-million dollar Australian hospitality business with the Midas touch that seems to turn almost every one of its bar and restaurant openings into a major success story. The second is that David Chang’s Momofuku is the inspiration behind Ms. G’s. The story goes that chefs Dan Hong and Jowett Yu hosted David Chang at a dinner at their previous restaurant, Lotus, and from that gathering the idea for Ms. G’s was borne. And to further guarantee its success, the influential Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide has also awarded Ms. G’s a ‘One Hat’ out of a possible three from its restaurant rating system.

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Restaurant Tim Raue – Berlin, Germany

Tim Raue

Tim Raue

Restaurant Tim Raue, a one star Michelin restaurant in Berlin, is named after its executive chef, Tim Raue who has gained fame in Germany for his unusual approach to Asian cooking. His style is best explained on the restaurant’s website as ‘Asian cuisine characterised as a combination of Japanese product perfection, Thai aromas and Chinese cooking philosophy’. Raue came from rough and humble beginnings. His abusive upbringing and time spent in a gang as a youth is common knowledge in Germany – he’s also just brought out an autobiography. But despite this, he’s still managed to achieve success by winning a Michelin star and the Gault Millau Chef of the Year award in 2007.

What is also interesting about the food at Restaurant Tim Raue is that it does not use any dairy products or complex carbohydrates. Raue’s philosophy is that you should be able to eat a full meal and feel full of energy afterwards. Therefore you will not see any potatoes or rice on the menu. Not serving rice is not an Oriental concept. Even the word for ‘meal’ in Cantonese literally translates as ‘eating rice’. But ok.

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Bo Innovation Hong Kong

Note:
Ooops. It appears that I got it wrong and that Bo Innovation Hong Kong was demoted to a one-star in the 2010 Guide which I think came out in December.
But I concluded that this wasn’t a two-star worthy meal. So in that respect I got something right…

Bo Innovation Hong Kong is a two-star Michelin restaurant, and the 65th ranked restaurant in the 2010 San Pellegrino’s Best Restaurants in the World list. The ‘World’s Best’ website describes Bo Innovation “as a ground breaking Chinese fine-dining restaurant, serving ‘X-Treme Chinese’ cuisine, with executive chef Alvin Leung known around the world for his sense of adventure, humour and rock and roll”. Bo Innovation is known for its molecular reinvention of traditional Chinese and I was certifiably curious. I grew up eating Chinese food, and I’ve had molecular gastronomy many times over, but never the two combined, so this was going to be my first foray into this new dimension.

The restaurant is modern and sleek. There are no traditional Chinese touches here, no red lanterns or the like. Instead there are bare floors and industrial looking walls. The only hint that this might be a Chinese restaurant is the occasion splash of marble.

There are three menu choices at Bo Innovation. The standard tasting menu offers nine course,s including a choice of main from five options, and is priced at HK$780 (about £62). We selected the ‘Chef’s’ tasting with 14 courses which is priced at HK$1,280 (about £102). There is also the ‘Chef’s Table’ menu with 16 courses which is priced at HK$1,680 (about £133).

Although bread is typically not served with a Chinese meal, as a substitute for bread (so explained our waiter), we were offered ‘egg waffles’ with Iberico ham. Made from waffle batter and cooked so that they are shaped like little eggs (hence the translation to egg waffles), this is a variation of a typical Hong Kong street food (which I recently discovered being sold in London’s Chinatown). A childhood favourite of mine when I use to live in Hong Kong, it tastes slightly sweet. The use of Iberico ham added a touch of savouriness to the waffle and was very tasty.

Egg waffles

Egg waffles

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Mr Chow’s Peking Restaurant

Sydney Opera House by night

Sydney Opera House by night

After three and a half years away, I finally arrived in Sydney for my first long, overdue trip home. It’s always wonderful to come back, to the place of your childhood. Sydney has changed a little since I was last here, but it still has that same old familiar feel, that feeling of ‘home’. Coming back has been a moment that I’ve been looking forward to for sometime, and I’ve been counting down the days ever since my trip began in Indonesia, gradually feeling my sense of excitement growing and growing. There’s something quite extraordinarily wonderful when you’ve not seen your family for a while and you are due to meet up for the very first time after a long absence.

Mr Chow's Peking Restaurant

That first meal together is of course always particularly exciting for there is no better way to bond than to eat – to catch up over a pleasurable pastime. We’d chosen Mr Chow’s Peking Restaurant, a Chinese restaurant offering three different styles of Chinese cooking from three different regions: Peking, Canton and Sichuan (Szechuan). Its specialty is a derivation of the ever-popular Peking duck: a (jasmine) tea-smoked duck ($58). It is cooked with a special secret technique that causes the fat to dissipate, thus leaving it with no fat, but allegedly with no alteration to the flavour.

I have to admit that I am someone who is always seduced by the signature dish of a restaurant. Hopelessly drawn to the idea that it’s the best dish that the house has to offer, I would never want to lament passing up the chance to try the best. Unlike typical Peking duck, where you are served only the skin first and the meat second, the tea-smoked duck at Mr Chow’s was served with all the meat at once, and accompanied by steamed buns rather than thin pancakes. However it still came with the mandatory hoisin sauce and vegetable slivers of cucumber and spring onions. A delicate smoky-tea flavour permeated the meat, and as promised, the duck came with (virtually) no fat. However, unlike the typical variation, the meat although tender proved a little dry, no doubt as a consequence of the lack of fat. An experimentation point was thus proved – that fat helps improve taste. No wonder the French cook with glorious duck fat.

Tea-smoked duck

Tea-smoked duck

We stayed with the Pekinese theme for the rest of the evening, choosing another house specialty, the crab meat in egg white ($19.80), and also the Peking-style spare ribs ($25.80). The crab meat was wonderfully fresh and juicy, and the delicacy of the egg white in a gentle white sauce combined superbly with the subtlety of the crab. The boneless ribs were meltingly tender, although ironically quite fatty. Deep fried and submerged in a sweet sauce, it was delicious, although the flavour lacked the punch packed by some of the dim sum versions that you can get in Sydney’s Chinatown restaurants. Those have a thicker and crispier batter around the meat, giving them a crunchier outer coating, and they come with a sauce which is usually thicker and more caramelised, producing a stickier, more intense flavour.

Peking-style spare ribs

Peking-style spare ribs

Mr Chow’s Peking Restaurant has that standard look and feel of a typical Chinese restaurant with standard Chinese touches and the ever mandatory fish tank on display that is common in Chinese restaurants in Sydney. However, Mr Chow’s, being situated in a more upper-end of town, in the Rocks area of Sydney and not Chinatown, it is furnished slightly more comfortably. It has a slicker, more polished look, with wider set tables and more spacing in between.

Its mood was relaxed and the quieter noise levels easily allowed for those catch-up conversations with family. The service was also friendly and came with a smile, something occasionally difficult to find in Chinatown! I enjoyed my first night back in Sydney at Mr Chow’s, especially for the million miles an hour conversation between my chatterbox sister and I. The food was of quality sourcing and tasty. There was also plenty of variety on the menu to keep any discerning palate occupied. But despite all this, at its pricing levels, no doubt in part to reflect its locale, Mr Chow’s just didn’t quite wow.

Mr Chow’s Peking Restaurant at:
33-35 Kent St
The Rocks,
Sydney, NSW
Australia, 2000
Phone: +61 (0)2 9252 3010
Web: http://www.mrchowspeking.com.au


Another Related Restaurant Review

Mr Chow’s Peking Restaurant on Urbanspoon


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