A March 2005 trip
to Hong Kong by MichaelJM
Quote: This was our first trip to China, and we stayed for the first few days in Kowloon visiting several restaurants.
Deceptively, this restaurant accommodates around 200 diners in four discreet areas. It’s a bit crammed in places, but that really affects the servers rather than the diners. It certainly has atmosphere, and there is nothing better than eating quality food in a restaurant where everyone is clearly tucking into their food with real enthusiasm.
The order was placed: a pot of Chinese tea, Tsing Tau beers, spring rolls, lemon chicken (this was not on the menu, but my son likes this dish and the restaurant obliged), grilled Vietnamese garlic king prawns, and pineapple fried rice. A feast in the making!
As we waited for the meal, sipping the tea (when you finish the pot, balance the lid on the tea pot to request a top-up), I took in our surroundings. They were unobtrusive, quietly complimenting the dining space without distracting; subtle and matching ethnic paintings adorned the walls and a host of servers waited on the needs of the full house of diners (just as well we booked a table).
The spring rolls, served on a bed of the brightest green lettuce, were the best I’ve ever tasted – large and crispy, with a subtly flavoured filling – although a little difficult to manage with chopsticks. Hey, I’m not proud I grabbed them with my fingers, dunking them shamelessly in a ferociously hot chili sauce.
A large flaming pineapple was the next dish to arrive, and the fruit had been scooped out (some used in the serving) and replaced with rice, scallops, prawns, cuttlefish, and mushrooms. This was superbly presented (let the flames subside before you dig in) and was an incredibly tasty dish. Indeed, when we’d emptied it, a fresh supply came, as if by magic!
The king prawns were gigantic, not overdone with the garlic, and full of wholesome tasty meat. And, finally, my son’s special order of lemon chicken served on a bed of parsley with a single decorative orchid on the side. It was a well-balanced dish in which the lemon did not overpower the taste of the beautifully cooked chicken.
Throughout the meal, we sat on comfortable bamboo chairs with coat protectors, ensuring that our jackets were not sprinkled with food. This is a cosy restaurant that happily provided diners with Western "eating irons" if require. We didn’t, I’m proud to say!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 18, 2005
We booked in advance and were welcomed at the arcade entrance by our "guide" to the restaurant. He, alongside many others, was competing for business, and once we declared our reservation, he negotiated his way through the throng to lead us to the seventh-floor restaurant. Not the most pleasant of arcades, he waved the passing predators away and took us to the lift. I use the word advisedly, because it was really a small cage that transported no more than six persons up into the mansion’s heights. It was a lesson in patience, and you’ll need to take any such delays into your calculations when decided on your preferred dining time. I reckon we waited around 15 minutes before the lift became available.
But what of the food? Well, it’s really great-quality Indian food served in a no-nonsense style. We had chicken biryani, lentil makhani, chicken korma, pilau rice, and assorted naan. Whilst we were waiting for the food, we popped a few poppadoms into the brightest green riaita.
The crowded, basic restaurant was buzzing with activity, and my guess is that two people may feel slightly intimidated (apparently it’s not unusual for large parties to meet here for after-work meals). Fake greenery weaved its way through the hanging ceiling and waiters rushed around ensuring that the completed dishes arrived at the table fresh and hot. A carafe of water was unceremoniously placed on the table, but it was water with a bit of a taste, and I was a little cautious in drinking it, preferring to stick with the local beer.
All dishes arrived virtually simultaneously, and we tucked into them, enjoying the perfect balance of oriental spices and the slight burning of the lips as we devoured the food. I thoroughly enjoyed the superb taste of the food and the buzz of the Kyber Pass. The meal was cheap; the meat of the finest quality; the service prompt, courteous, and efficient; and the atmosphere electric.
We now needed to brave Chungking (the inspiration for the classic film "Chungking Express") for the second time. This time the lift was so slow that our guide decided to take us down the back staircase (avoid this at all costs) and took off at a fair pace. This area was verging on the filthy, and I’m sure it wasn’t my imagination that the walls were splattered with blood and landings pooled with urine. It was an unsavoury sight and we, relieved and unscathed, stepped into the fresh air of Kowloon.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 19, 2005
An extravagant sign is evident at the entrance, and the inside was also a bit of a surprise. It’s a fairly massive open dining area (capable, I reckon, of seating 300-plus diners) that is broken up with square, substantive pillars and surrounded by mirrors. The whole effect is bright and airy, although somewhat intimidating, as you’re led to the table.
The specialty of the house is Peking duck with hoi sin sauce, and we ordered egg fried rice with vegetables, chilli prawns, and fried pork dumplings to accompany it. As was becoming our tradition, we had a pot of Chinese tea to sip before the meal and aid our digestion and Tsing Tau beers to help the food slip down better.
If you’re in a hurry, don’t even consider eating here, because the pace is slow and the duck takes about 20 minutes to be prepared. We got through a couple of pots of tea as we considered higher matters (i.e. which night market to visit after the meal!) and mostly managed to avoid chewing on the numerous tea leaves that fought their way through the spout and into our cups.
Watching the preparation of the cooked duck was a pleasure, and the waiter rapidly removed all meat from the carcass and placed it before us. I have to confess that we didn’t manage to roll the pancakes with our chopsticks, but the end product was so tasty. I can well believe the restaurant’s claim that they cook the very best Peking duck in Hong Kong. There was plenty for the four of us, and we managed to devour it all whilst it was still warm – a feat I’m sure you’ll be envious of!
To my surprise, I actually quite enjoyed the dumplings, although they weren’t as crisp I’d thought, and the chilli prawns… well, I love prawns and chilli and these hit the spot. There was plenty of rice that was nicely cooked, not cloying like some restaurants we’d eaten in. The vegetables were in large bite-size units and crunchy on the taste – a great contrast for the rice.
This restaurant offers you a choice of small, medium, and large (two, three, and four persons), so you have great flexibility in your ordering. The waiters (I’m not sure I saw a waitress in this establishment) were there when required but not fawning around the table.
This is a no-nonsense restaurant worth visiting.
Spring Deer Restaurant
42 Moody Road
We were there at lunchtime, so it may be a bit different at night. Certainly if there’s a big sporting event on, the place, according to my son, is heaving and will remain open until the televised broadcast is over. On those occasions, you’ll need to be there prompt to get a decent seat to view one of the big-screen TVs.
Delayney’s carries a good selection of Irish beers (including Guiness and Killeney), continental lagers – not a local brew in sight – and some reasonably tasty malts. But it was lunchtime and we had some serious sightseeing to do, so we ordered colas all round! The drinks here aren’t cheap, but perhaps we’d forgotten the price of beer and soft drinks back in the UK.
The menu boasted that a mixed platter would satisfy the appetite of four people or "stuff" an individual. A snack was all that we required, so a single platter was what we ordered. No rush here, but I guess they like you to linger and drink more beer (it is primarily a drinking establishment). When it finally arrived, there was plenty: lamb kebabs, chicken wings, stuffed mushrooms, chops, salad, dips, and freshly cut and cooked potato crisps. There was certainly ample for us, and I’d defy anyone to eat a whole portion by themselves.
Like many an Irish-American diner, the place was cluttered with regalia and the walls lined with photographs of great singers and famous individuals. Gentle jazz music was piped through the speakers, and as our staff progressed, the hubbub of the increasing number of diners began to overpower the music. A small group gathered around one of the TV’s, and we presumed some important event was soon to be broadcast – time to make our exit and brave the streets of Kowloon.
However, the job of paying the bill was not easy, as Delayney’s is clearly not renowned for its attentive servers. It was very difficult to attract their attention, and I was about to pace the floor when our server appeared. The bill soon arrived, but then there was the long wait for our change. Now I remember why I prefer to eat in restaurants rather than "diners" or pubs.
Overall, we were well satisfied with our food, although generally the choice is fairly limited, but the service lacked lustre and the servers seemed to be a little short of interest in their clientele.
It was somewhat pricey for what it was!
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on April 19, 2005
18 Luard Road
+852 2804 2880
Inside, it’s "welcome to the U.S. of A.", as there are no signs here of the Orient. The servers are brightly dressed and of cheerful disposition and seem to understand that they need to give you a "bit of space" before you order and yet remain attentive. Coffee was first on the agenda, and at Dan Ryan’s, you pay for the first cup, but top-ups come free. The coffee was freshly ground and, for me, just the right strength, giving that necessary caffeine rush to kick-start the day.
The breakfast/brunch was fairly comprehensive, including eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes, and French toast. What the menu doesn’t tell you is that the "fried breakfasts" are accompanied by a choice of toast (white, brown, or whole meal) and that eggs and bacon have a substantial accompaniment of mushrooms and potatoes. The portions are large and, I reckon, will satisfy even the largest of appetites – having said that, all of us were hungry, and so we dispatched the meal fairly rapidly without due ceremony. Two of us tucked into the fried breakfast--my wife went for the French toast (it looked and, she assured me, tasted brilliant), and my son’s fiancée had an appetising plateful of pancakes.
Cool jazz was piped into the restaurant, and I was delighted to hear some Billie Holiday alongside the other obvious ones of Sinatra and the Rat Pack. The walls were adorned with black and white photos of these melodic icons, and Chicago memorabilia (probably reproduction) was crammed into every other available space.
Dan Ryan’s certainly makes an effort to keep its younger guests entertained and had an egg-painting competition (it was Easter!) and free balloons to give away. The diner had a great feel to it, and I guess it really buzzes at night. The diner menus were not cheap, but if you "needed" to have a decent steak, my son says this restaurant is second to none. If you just fancy a drink and a catch up on the news, then this is your venue - there are free newspapers available to read on the premises.
We enjoyed our breakfast and followed the instructions of the waiter to "have a nice day!"
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 20, 2005
Shop 114, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway
+852 2845 4600