Executive Lunch-Time Eats @ Tsui Hang Village, Central, Hong Kong

Date of Visit: August 27 2013

It was near impossible to find a place for lunch in Central before the restaurant boom took off with a gusto in Hong Kong a decade ago. Now, a short walk on the pedestrian overhead bridge to Sheung Wan from IFC or an escalator ride to Mid-Levels is all you need to find an array of new restaurants serving up cuisines from all over the world.

This is a significant departure from my good ‘ol days of McDonald’s take-aways and styrofoam lunch-boxes *sniff*. Then again, I was only an architectural intern engrossed with my mundane priorities of specifying steps in the stairs, gradients in the ramps, toilet accessories – amongst the most exciting tasks! My mind was far away from digging out any culinary finds then!

I degress… back to Central, I say reservations are still recommended today especially since this is a busy financial district.

Tsui Hang Village in New World Tower, Central has been around ever since I can remember. This is a family favourite. We used to have to check-in at least once every week when I was little. Gran had a ‘trader’s couch’ in Central where she reports for ‘duty’ every workday! Anyway, after many face-lifts, this is still the same expansive restaurant on the second floor of an office building with a low ceiling. Heck! Even the maitre d’ is still the same woman!

Food here are classic Cantonese, with dim sums for lunch. Some of the a la carte, I recommend are salted fish fried rice, braised e-fu noodles, 2-faced yellow noodles and back pepper beef on sizzling hot plates.

Naturally as a golden-oldie, Tsui Hang Village made into the list of recommended restaurants in Michelin Hong Kong & Macau Guides in 2012, 2013.

Great news for the ‘bananas‘ (Chinese who cannot read Chinese) out there! Bi-lingual menu with pictures – ordering made easy. All one needed to do is to tick off the boxes for the food one wants with the pencil provided and give it to the waiter.

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Bi-lingual tick-the-box menu with pictures

Honey Glazed BBQ Pork (HK$128): Sticky, juicy, succulent pork – half fat, half lean – exceptionally tender porky bites with sweet chewy unctuousness. I enjoyed the honeyed soy beans, so much that my chopsticks have only 1 path – to the plate for the beans into my mouth and back!

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Honey Glazed BBQ Pork

Steamed Braised Chicken Feet: Don’t say yuck! Also known as ‘Phoenix Claws‘, in Cantonese, this is a nutritious savoury-sweet delicacy with plenty of collagen to make you look younger and prettier! Curious at how this dish is cooked, I checked online (recipe here) and to my horror they have to be first deep-fried in order for it to puff up when steamed. Not so healthy now, is it? Still, as a once in a while delicacy, it’s OK as a treat, right?

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Steamed Braised Chicken Feet

Steamed BBQ Pork Bun: This is sweet BBQ pork filling in white fluffy cottony-soft buns. The filling is very hot. Personally, I am not crazy about BBQ buns because they are too sweet for me. I usually share the bun and have it as my dessert.

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Steamed BBQ Pork Bun

Steamed Squid: An old classic in any yumcha. I think a basket of this is becoming a rarity nowadays. I especially enjoyed the supposedly cholesterol-lowering or was it blood-pressure lowering pomelo skins under the squids dressed in salty nam jin sauce.

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Steamed Squid

Steamed Vegetarian Dumplings: Chinese chives or ‘gau choi‘ wrapped in glutinous rice paper wrappings.

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Steamed Vegetarian Dumplings

Vegetarian Stir-fry (Lo Hon Chai): Snap peas, carrots, celeries, bamboo shoots, black fungus, lotus roots, lotus buds and chestnuts. A flavoured packed dish with all my favourite vegetables in it. The notables in this dish are the crunchy lotus roots and water chestnuts.

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Vegetarian Stir-fry

Steamed Pork Ribs: I have not had this dish for quite a long time and it was not as good as I remembered. It was all bone cartilages with little meat. Basically a deep-fried pork ribs which is later steamed and given a generous garnishing of chopped garlic.

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Steamed Pork Ribs

Steamed Beef Balls: Finally! The favourite among my favourite dim sums. The beef balls here are rather special to me because the beef are minced to a pulp, thus having the texture of beef paste. The added parsleys and water chestnuts in the beef balls are accentuated with the soy vinegar provided.

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Steamed Beef Balls

The total time we spent in Tsui Hang Village from arrival to picking up the tab was only 50minutes! Now, that’s executive lunch-time in Hong Kong for you!

‘Come Dine in My Lounge’ @ Duddell’s, Central, Hong Kong

Date of Visit: August 26 2013

With a slew of of new restaurant openings in Hong Kong, each one surpassing the other in terms of interior design, style and theme. I narrowed my dining choice to Chinese – well, since I am in Hong Kong, Chinese cuisine is what the Hong Kongers do best, right? From my go-to mag for Hong Kong dining (Hong Kong Tattler’s), I found out that the latest ‘It‘ place in town is Duddell’s which opened recently in May. Wise choice it worked out to be because I really needed a place to chill-out over lunch after a solid 3-hours meeting in the morning.

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View from Board Room: Intermittent storm brewing

Duddell’s is a ‘art-social-eating place‘, a duplex restaurant occupying Levels 3 & 4 of Shanghai Tang Mansion on historic Duddell Street, where the famous stone steps and the only 4 surviving gas lamps in Hong Kong are (info here).

The designer is Ilse Crawford from London – whom I had the honours of googling and found out to be the ex-editor of international decorating bible, British Elle Decoration before setting up Studio Ilse a decade ago. Her previous projects include Soho House New York, Aesop, Grand Hotel Stockholm, and Ett Hem hotels. (Samples of her work can be found in this blog, here and her interview with SCMP regarding her design on Duddell’s here)

The design of Duddell’s resemble a private residence of a gentleman art-collector with a salon, library, dining room, and a 2,000 square foot outdoor garden terrace (huge in urban HK’s standard!). We were met by a ‘butler’ aka ‘maitre d’ aka ‘bouncer’ in dark suits, upon entry. After checking out our ‘cred’ aka ‘booking’, we were shown to the 2nd floor to be seated at the salon area.

I was immediately impressed by the extensive use of travertine – that solid, heavy, so ’50s material with holes and troughs (high maintenance) – now back in vogue. The heavy solid travertine staircase linked the 2 dining floors and the bar/ salon area upstairs into one cohesive design.

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Travertine staircase linking both the physical space and visual connection of the 2 floors

Like a page taken straight out of The Conran Shop catalogue, the decors uses high-end expensive designers chairs and furnishings – notably Eames Chairs and Arco Lights.

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Main restaurant (downstairs)
Sourced from Internet: (?)

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2nd Floor: Bar/ Salon/ Library

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Bar serving artisanal cocktails and champagnes

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Looking out to the outdoor garden for alfresco dining

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Designer chairs: Nice to look at, comfortable to sit, but hard to get up!

Although there are a lot of notable pictures and paintings that decorated the walls, what moved me are the photographs of King of Kowloon‘s work aka Tsang Tsou-choi, a garbage-collector turned graffiti artist now an international artist (Hong Kong’s answer to Banksy) – which jazzed up the separate alcove with red banquette seatings. When he died in 1987, he had painted over 55,000 graffitis all over Hong Kong, sadly only 4 remained. The Hong Kong community is now fighting to preserve his works (read here).

To endorse itself as an art-gallery, Duddell’s also offers private membership with a year-round art programs, talks and rotating exhibitions curated by famous names in the global art scene.

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Photographs of ‘King of Kowloon’s graffiti

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Red alcove

Trying hard to enjoy the environment, my ears picked up faint babbles of noise travelling all the way from the main restaurant downstairs. This together with the weak sound-proofing meant that I can hear word-for-word the complaints of a woman about her ‘friend’ and thus pretty annoying – what a relief when she left! It is not my intention to eavesdrop but my advise to her would be: “Get rid of your friend if she is so annoying or tolerate her if you still want to continue the friendship. Otherwise – Shut up”!

Alright, enough talk about decor, art and what-nots, I hear you – you are hungry and want to know what I ate from the kitchen of a former T’ang Court (1 Michelin star) chef Siu Hin Chi… so let’s rock on!

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Loving the illustration
(L) Mr Duddell’s Wine Menu
(R) Ms Duddell’s Food Menu

The Barbecued Pork with Honey ($240) was well executed with soft BBQ pork glazed in honey. Having said that, this is a ubiquitous dish in all Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong. A BBQ platter is a must in every menu and the offerings are just as comparable but at lesser price.

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Barbecued Pork with Honey

Next up, Steamed Vegetarian Dumpling with Morel Mushroom ($60). I could smell the black truffles, but once in my mouth, I could only taste the mushrooms and none of the truffles. The dumpling skin was well-made, thick enough to be still translucent yet not stick to my teeth.

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Steamed Vegetarian Dumpling with Morel Mushroom

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Steamed Vegetarian Dumpling with Morel Mushroom

The Fried Rice Roll with XO Chili Sauce ($80) followed. I loved how my teeth cut through the crispy and slightly burnt bits on the surface into the soft doughy inside. The XO chili sauce gave a flavoursome spicy kick. Nice!

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Fried Rice Roll with XO Chili Sauce

Baked Pork Puff with Scallion ($54) was delightful. I enjoyed the buttery pastry wrapping sweet BBQ pork pieces.

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Baked Pork Puff with Scallion

Deep fried Glutinous Balls with Pork Pieces ($54). Another pork pieces creation, but this time, wrapped in sweet crispy outer layer with a chewy skin and delectable pork filling.

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Deep fried Glutinous Balls with Pork Pieces

Lobster Soup Dumpling ($110) was ordered individually for each of us. A very pricey choice but so delicious. The soup was light and flavoursome. Although I have shell-fish allergy, I did not get a reaction, so I can vouch for the freshness of the lobster.

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Lobster Soup Dumpling

Last but not least, the restaurant’s unique creation of a refreshingly mild Chilled Avocado Sago Cream with Chocolate ($50). This dessert soup gave me an idea for my Vitamix. A blitz of avocado, add in some sago then top with coco powder. This is an easy recipe to make at home and would be a nice dessert.

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Chilled Avocado Sago Cream with Chocolate

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Chilled Avocado Sago Cream with Chocolate

Duddell’s is best described as an art gallery within a restaurant. It is very pricey but in Hong Kong, one has to be acquainted with the idea for paying for the decoration. I like to say that service was very attentive and professional – looking smart in their beige waist jackets! In my next blog, I will show you my favourite lunch time place in Central where office-workers eat.

While at IFC, for my next appointment, I picked up a box of Pierre Herme’s macaroons for Gran. I much prefer PH over L’s. PH actually has ‘flavour’ as opposed to L’s sweetness. My Centurion Gran loves the soft chewy macaroon! 😄

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Pierre Herme’s macaroons

Pierre Herme’s 2013 range: Les Jardines