# Wednesday, 25 November 2009

It is always hard to say which dim sum restaurant is the best in Hong Kong, coz there are truly many great ones, but if I must name one, probably Lei Garden (利苑酒家) can be a safe answer.

I could have blogged about Lei Garden a long time ago, but just did not make it, I do not eat there very often, being always full is not an exact reason, but I somehow just feel more at ease at other restaurants, considering location and my schedule. On the other hand, they do serve great food.


Their crab meat soup dumpling was excellent, something that I sure would order when I eat there  


This hairy crab paste Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) was very good, aside from rich crab paste, it contained quite some crab meat inside, but at HKD 32 each is too expensive!!


The beef ball in soup was great, I like the way it is cooked, even the soup was tasty!


The chicken feet and 叉燒包 (barbecued pork bun) were also very good, but they can be found at same quality elsewhere too


The Taro Puff (蜂巢芋角) was not good enough, it was fried too deep, this was quite a surprise, and it was the only thing that I feel disappointed.

Lei Garden is comparatively expensive, and serving a higher end market, the people there are polite, but somehow I just feel a little unease there, if you wish to eat there I suggest making booking in advance, unless you got there early during non-peak hours and can finish eating before the crowd comes in.

There are quite a few branches of Lei Garden, I think the quality is quite consistent, but the one at Wan Chai seems to be mostly popular among locals.

Official web site: http://www.leigarden.hk/

Wan Chai Lei Garden Restaurant
Address : 1/F., CNT Tower, 338 Hennessy Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel. 2892 0333

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday & Public Holidays
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Dinner: 6:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Sunday
Lunch: 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Dinner: 6:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009 18:50:21 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Tuesday, 03 November 2009

During Hairy crab (大閘蟹) season, most Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong would offer dishes out of this seasonal delicacy, Jade Garden is not known for this, and my trial on two of them makes me feel that I should stick to this restaurant for dim sum better.


Official name from menu: Tofu broth with hairy crabmeat and coral (豆腦蟹粉羹)


Official name from menu: Noodle in shrimp with hairy crabmeat and coral (蟹粉伴麵)

They are not really that bad, but there seems to be too much flour in it, and the taste is not rich enough, since the price is relatively low at only HKD 28 (USD 3.5) per serving (you can order an one person serving for trial, which is good), it is understandable, if you have a couple people dining there together, it is ok to order a few of these hairy crab dishes, may be there are nice surprises in the other ones.

Tuesday, 03 November 2009 15:33:12 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, 30 October 2009

I once thought I would have my first hairy crab (大閘蟹) meal this season at East Ocean, but unexpectedly it turned out to be Shark's Fin City restaurant instead. Just by chance anyway.

The set is simple, without too much fansy stuff, soup, a traditional chinese wine to offset the supposed "cold" elements from Hairy Crab, a ginger dessert that serves the same purpose, and of course, the main character - hairy crabs!

There are two hairy crab dishes aside from the 2 medium size steamed hairy crab:


The hairy crab paste Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) is unexpectedly good, the skin is not bad, the meat stuff tasted fresh, but the amount of paste (crab soup) inside is too little.


The crab paste + bread roll is ok, although not as good as the Crab paste garlic toast (蟹粉蒜茸飽) from East Ocean (東海海都), the amount of crab paste provided is bigger in quantity (not as great as that from East Ocean but ok too)

Now the crabs, there are 2 crabs, and they serve the next only after you have done with the first so all crabs can be eaten hot, the services were quite good and I am satisfied. The quality of the crabs are ok too, not super super but very good already, they have the true crab aroma which I failed to experience last year, it may be true that the overall quality this season has improved, I believe so as the lungs of the crabs are clean, a sign that they were grown in clean environment.


First crab


Second crab


Other stuffs

A good meal for HKD 490!

Friday, 30 October 2009 22:43:32 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Thursday, 29 October 2009

The hot humid days of Hong Kong summer seems to be over finally, now comes one of the best season to visit Hong Kong, plus being at the right time for eating hairy crab! Talking about hairy crab, I had my first 2 for this season yesterday, gonna blog about it tomorrow, it is a busy day today and extremely tired...

Thursday, 29 October 2009 23:11:46 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Saturday, 17 October 2009

The hairy crab season is already here for sometime already, but since I had a lot of seafood at home recently, I decided to try out the hairy crab dishes first instead of feasting the crabs, somehow I need to manage the level of cholesterol I have.

Aside from Xiao Long Bao (小籠包), there is actually a special hairy crab dishes (大閘蟹菜式) that I receommend everyone crab lover to try, which is the Crab paste garlic toast (蟹粉蒜茸飽) from East Ocean (東海海都), at a price of HKD 108 for 6 pieces, it is not low but fair as far as the experiences is concerned, the mix of the crab meat and paste along with a hot garlic toast is truly amazing!


A full spread of rich crab paste on one piece of garlic toast!

And how about the hairy crab Xiao Long Bao (蟹粉小籠包)? I think it is only average, and if you think having too much crab stuff in a meal is no good, there are other dim sums that are worth trying too, a fried version of seafood roll is especially good!


Hairy Crab Xiao Long Bao (蟹粉小籠包): The Meat is not fresh enough, paste not rich enough.


This hairy crab paste wor tip (they don't call it a wor tip but I think it is) is not that good either.


Great fried version of seafood roll (鮮竹卷), great sauce with spring onion.

The branch at Harbour City is well decorated and nicely setup, with settings that allows certain degree of privacy, like this room:

There are other hairy crab dishes anyway at East Ocean, I'll try them out next time, especially the sets.

Saturday, 17 October 2009 15:51:21 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Monday, 12 October 2009

Have not been visiting Jade Garden for more than a month, I decided to try it again, with a purpose to see if it is still "better than Maxim's Palace" as I mentioned, and why not, especially when it is offering a discount if you settle your bill before 11:30a.

The result is affirmative with reservation, coz I was not able to order ha gao (shrimp dumpling), please note that Jade Garden, like Maxim's Palace, is using the old style push carts, I did not see them offered, not sure if it has something to do wth the morning discount.


Using Beef ball as an index, this one from Jade Garden gives a better feel somehow


The steamed shrimp roll is not that good, wish I could have ordered ha gao instead


This fried taro scallop is only offered here as I haven't seen it elsewhere yet, it is simply fantastic! But make sure you got them hot enough.


This one is spicy, not my style but taste good

If Causeway bay is not convenient for you, Jade Garden at TST is also a good choice, just next to the Star Ferry terminal.

Jade Garden Causeway Bay
Address in Chinese: 銅鑼灣駱克道463-483號銅鑼灣廣場二期3樓
Address in English:3/F, Causeway Bay Plaza II, 463-483 Lockhart Road (Causeway Bay)   
Tel : 2573 9339

Jade Garden TST
Address in Chinese: 尖沙咀梳士巴利道3號星光行五樓
Address in English: 5/F, Star House, 3 Salisbury Road (Tsim Sha Tsui)   
Tel: 2730-6888

Google Map: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=114499201820180881946.000463d25b524e2ce06d1

Monday, 12 October 2009 13:54:19 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Thursday, 08 October 2009

I was really a little surprise that my last experience at Maxim's Palace City Hall was not good enough, so I visited its Taikoo Branch to have another test, and it seems that the quality this time was slightly better (better beef ball, Ha Gao), though not totally satisfying (same so so Siu Mai), the fried rice was especially disappointing, somehow I feel that its sister restaurant, Jade Garden, serves better food more consistently.

But rating overall quality, services, and considering the good environment, it is still a very good dim sum restaurant, just can't agree that it is the "best". 

Thursday, 08 October 2009 19:04:03 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Monday, 21 September 2009

It is interesting to find quite a lot of information on the web relating best dim sum to the Maxim's Palace City hall, could it be that someone with little dim sum experiences visited there and thought that he/she just had the best dim sum in Hong Kong? I think when someone started by saying "I did not have very high expectations of Hong Kong food....", it is a sign to seek a second opinion.

I am not saying that Maxim's Palace (美心皇宮) is bad, in fact, after the latest renovation, it is a grand place to enjoy dim sum, just that the dim sum there is simply, average, the best? come on, it really makes me laugh.

Not sure if it was the material quality, or if the food was prepared by an apprentice, the ha gao, beef ball as well as Taro puff are all below average at my first visit after the renovation. Maxim group operates various brands, Maxim's palace, as well as one of my favorite, Jade Garden, are all under the same mother company, I guess despite their effort to maintain consistent quality, the actual result would still depends on individual talents, Maxim's Palace itself has quite a number of branches covering the entire city, the general perception among locals is that Maxim's only just another dim sum restaurant, "the best" is something that I never imagine a local would call it. But strangely, it seems to be extremely popular among foreigners, in fact, more than half of the people who were there when I ate there last week were foreigners. I strongly feel that this is another hype on the internet.

I think another blow to this restaurant is the fading away of the Original Star Ferry Station, I am not a die-hard preservationist, but it is indeed sentimental to see one historial icon destroyed after another, I hope the government is not lying and really knows what they are doing. Well, with the place looking like this today, until the building of the new structures are done, it will be much less attractive to visit this so called best dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong.


View from restaurant today


Star Ferry Central 2006


2009

Personally I would go to the nearby Lei Garden in IFC instead, there are also quite a number of interesting options in Central, there is a new one which is especially attractive, I'll keep this a secret for the moment, and hope that I can arrange a chance to eat there sometime soon!

Monday, 21 September 2009 13:15:04 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, 04 September 2009

Finally, I was able to find time to have a Yellow Oil Crab meal at East Ocean, the HKD 398 set is a very good deal, although the crab is far from perfect, the set all together is very satisfying.

The menu: http://www.eastocean.com.hk/OCrabSets.html

The Yellow Oil crab (黄油蟹) feels bigger and richer than the one I had at SuperStar, but the crab quality may be a little bit "rougher" in comparison, the crab aroma seems stronger, but some part of it is too dry, and the yellow oil is rather concentrated instead of being distributed into the whole body (which may not be a bad thing for me).

yellow oil crab

I think to be fair one should not expect to have the highest quality yellow oil crab from a set at this price range, therefore I would say that the one I had from East Ocean is good for the value already, besides, all the other items are very good except the "wor tip" and dessert, which being ordinary, would become even less attractive at a time when I was already very full.


The meat and chicken are very good, simple but good tasting


The Yellow Oil Crab (黄油蟹) Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) is at the same quality like I mentioned in my previous blog entry, the "yellow oil" is great, but the meat quality can still be improved


The Shark Fin Soup at Superstar is creamy and having a bigger serving size. This one from East Ocean is cooked in clear chicken broth, very nice too.


The abalone from East Ocean is also small as expected, but it tastes quite well this time. I know many from the west are terrified by having poultry feet as food, but goose feet in abalone sauce is one of my best favorite!


I like this vegetable dish, the dried scallop cooked this way is one of my favorite


The "wor tip" is too oily, and quality is not that good. The desert is also average, much better if they can subsitute this with something else

Since I ordered only 1 set, so there is no complimentary Sake (Japanese wine), instead, I got a glass of fruit juice. I had only a little of it, based on some side information, having too much vitamin C rich content along with Crab may produce "undesirable" condition inside our stomach, I am not sure about how true it is, but just wanna play safe. After all, I was already too full after eating all these.


The service at East Ocean also beats Superstar in some ways, they provide the full set of gears at the start, and the waiters responded faster, but from both restaurants there are good and poor staffs, there are two things that I am disappointed today with East Ocean: cold hand cleansing water, and slow in handling my payment.

Overall I would rate the set at East Ocean a better deal than that from SuperStar, not only that the price is lower, the crab and many of the items are having better quality, since the disparity is not that big, if you do not mind having two yellow oil crab meals, I would suggest that you tried out both, but if you want to have only one, may be you can consider East Ocean's first.

The branch I went to was again in Wan Chai Harbour Centre, please find the full list of East Ocean's branch at:
 
Friday, 04 September 2009 20:15:31 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)
# Friday, 28 August 2009

I have been planning to have my first Yellow Oil Crab meal at East Ocean (東海), but just always couldn't make it, and by chance it was more convenient for me to eat at SuperStar today, so despite that the East Ocean set is more attractive to me, I decided to try out SuperStar (鴻星) first.

There are three sets for me to choose, I chose the least expensive one, not exactly because I want to save money, but I think the extra spending for the higher end sets do not bring in much value for me.

If you take a look at the menu, you would notice that they priced the crab alone at around HKD 325 (The crab in the set is around 190g, while the one that they priced individually is 228g, $65 per 38g), HKD 325 = USD 41.50, around the price of a Dungeness crab in US, but this crab is way much smaller as you can imagine from the weight alone, so you can see how expensive the yellow oil crab is. 

http://superstargroup.com.hk/setmenu/09_07crab/09_07crab.html

I don't see SuperStar as the best restaurant for Shark's Fin, therefore I won't order higher end set because of that, and in fact, I see the creamy Braised Shark's Fin even better than the Double Boiled Shark's Fin. The Bird's Nest for Almond Cream is also useless, as it can hardly be felt, the only good ones in the most expensive set is the Prawn, which indeed is a very delicious dish.

But my main target today was the Yellow Oil Crab, the rest were for added value only, so I thought that the HKD 568 set is the best deal, and I was right, the set has real good value.

I am not a big fan of SuperStar as I had a very bad experience there, exactly at the Times Square branch a few years ago, they missed orders and kept us waiting, and the staffs were so impolite in handling our complaint. But to my surprise, the service today is quite good, only one failed to respond to my request despite that she promised to help. I can feel that they do not have enough people to serve during peak hours.

Back to the main topic, the Yellow Oil Crab is fat and rich in yellow oil, but somehow I feel that the yellow oil is lacking the great aroma I used to experience last year, I'll see if I can get that same sensation when I try out East Ocean's.

In a way, yellow oil crabs are better than the much more famous Hairy crabs, and it is only produced in the Pearl river delta area near Hong Kong waters. A lot of people says that the quality of these crabs are better than the hairy crab, which are having contamination issues due to environment pollutions in the lakes of China. But the pricing of these crabs are really too high, hairy crab can also be expensive, but there are also low cost options with relatively acceptable quality, so people can afford to eat quite a lot of them. But for yellow oil crab oil, we really need to control our appetite because the production is limited.

Another special thing about Yellow Crab Oil is that it is usually boiled with wine, the reason is that to avoid losing the yellow oil, you can't let the crab struggle too much during cooking (the feet may fell off and leaking yellow oil), and have to use wine to make it drunk before cooking it. Sounds like a humane way of feasting. Well, life is full of paradox, having to kill a creature for another creature to survive is a bad design of the world we are today, I don't like it and such a thought is truly annoying when thinking about eating great food...

A few things to ask for when ordering yellow oil crab in a restaurant:
1.  Gears for eating crab, since the crab is small, you need them for picking up the crab meat in the legs. The Superstar stuffs did not get that for me today.

2. Hot water with Lemon for washing hands

3. A small spoon for picking up the crab paste

Always remember, what you go for in a yellow oil crab is the yellow stuffs (paste, oil) there, unlike the Dungeness crab, the crab meat is so few that it is mainly a by-product. This reminds me a funny experience in Seattle, I had Dungeness crab twice there and in both occasion, they served me crabs without the paste (not sure how this thing is called in US), I guess they treat these as waste, well, the crab paste of Dungeness crab is indeed not so good, no wonder it is not valued, but not for the yellow oil crab.

One characteristic of the yellow oil crab is that the yellow oil will flow to all parts of the crab's body, a reaction from the heat of the sun.


For the rest of the dishes, all are quite good, so as far as food value is concerned, this set is worth the money.

 

The abalone is just average (I did not expect much from an "abalone" from a set), surprisingly though, the side dishes that come with the abalone is quite good


 

花彫 is a chinese rice wine originated from Shaoxing (紹興) of Zhejiang (浙江) provinces, not bad to have some after a crab meal.


 

Well, the dessert (almond cream) is just ok

Address in Chinese: 銅鑼灣時代廣場食通天10樓1005鋪
Address in English: 1005, 10th Floor,Times Square,1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay
Tel: 2628 0886
 
SuperStar has quite a number of branches in Hong Kong, there are rumors that the one at TST (Tsim Sha Tsui) is the best,  the address list of SuperStar's branch an be found at the following link (but only in Chinese version):
 
Friday, 28 August 2009 21:10:01 (China Standard Time, UTC+08:00)