Jamie Oliver – HK launch news, but will it be “Green”

•August 26, 2009 • 2 Comments

Hmm, so Jamie Oliver is to open a bunch of restaurants in Hong Kong and then across Asia.

It’s a crowded space here, and sounds like the pricing is slap bang in the middle of that crowded space, but his name stapled to the front of this will surely pull in the crowds, and you’d hope the food lives up to his reputation of using good ingredients.

However, isn’t this where it gets a bit sticky?  Mr Oliver is all about using seasonal, local ingredients, so you have to wonder what his franchise partner has planned to fit in with this theme of sustainability – for example when it comes to free range chicken.

The closest option I know of for broiler chickens are Australia, as I’m not sure the free range options in China are going to be of the right sort for their needs – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Opening an Italian restaurant thousand of miles away from where, I guess, many of the ingredients will be produced is not very environmentally friendly at first glance. Let’s hope they have a plan for this.

The only other restaurant I know of that actually has sustainability as their stated aim is Eddie’s in Lantau, and they really need to shout about it more, as it’s a good reason to give it a go.

Anyway, I’ll certainly be interested to see what the franchiser is going to do with this, and interested to see who actually ends up being the franchisee – I wonder which company here will take it on…

Sukhumvit/Ploenchit – Where to sleep, shop, spa and sup in Bangkok

•August 25, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I never tire of Thailand. I don’t think it’s possible to have a bad holiday there, unless you are a muppet and go around smoking drugs and letting coconuts fall on your head.

I never tire of Bangkok either, even though I’ve been there countless times.  It’s just a great city, but – and this important – it’s only great as long as you know how to get around and don’t sit in traffic jams for hours on end.

causticcandy_bangkok

If you only have a long weekend or just a couple of days in Bangkok then I would heartily suggest staying somewhere along the Sukhumvit Road or the beginning of Ploenchit (they lead into each other).

As the traffic is still atrocious you do need to base yourself close to a Skytrain station preferably, or an underground.

Any bars/restaurants etc outside this immediate vicinity mainly have their own posts elsewhere on the blog (eg, if it’s your first time in Bangkok you really do have to go for sundowners at Vertigo at the Banyan Tree but it’s a way away from Sukhumvit in Silom).

Stay:

The Eugenia on Sukhumvit Soi 31 for small, chic and sophisticated.

Hyatt Erawan or Conrad, for big 5* chains that are both very close to Gaysorn and Siam Paragon for shopping/cinemas/Skytrain junctions/on-site spas.

Do not stay anywhere near the Grand Palace unless you are only going to be doing siteseeing/eating in that area or along the river. The traffic is enough to try the patience of the Buddha.

Eat:

Around Sukhumvit:

Vendome is good (if French and formal), next to the Eugenia. Nice setting in a house with a sweet garden and terrace. Big wine list, and a couple of private rooms up stairs.

Cabbages and Condoms – standard Thai fare, and is always worth a meal if you have time as the service is laughably haphazard – but it’s all for a good charitable cause.

Kuppa at 39 Sukhumvit Soi 16, lovely for lunch, huge, airy and industrial. Tel: 02663-0495

DB Bradley Room in the Eugenia. Now I haven’t eaten here, I was thwarted by the traffic last time I was in BKK when I was trying out a hotel in another part of town. It gets good reviews, and it is the most stunning room – hand painted wallpaper with gold leaf, and only about 8 tables in toto. Super romantic.

It’s fusion, but apparently very good. Someone please go and let me know what it’s like as I’ve been dying to go here for months!

Avoid: Lan Na Thai (great venue, poor food), Spring & Summer (again great venue, poor food).

Bed Supperclub -If you haven’t been to BKK before and you are under 25, then this venue is still something fun and different to go to, but bear in mind you eat lounging around on beds, so it’s not for everyone’s digestive system (must bring ID with you for age-verification even if you are 90), and it’s still style over substance.

I’m putting non-Sukhumvit restaurants in other posts. It is worth heading out and braving the traffic only in the evenings, and it’s certainly easier to get across town starting here, way out west than it is, starting off round the Palace or River areas.

causticcandy_bangkoktaxi

I know I haven’t mentioned many Thai restaurants here, but I’d suggest that your hotel concierge knows where the best ones are in your district, or where their favourite ones are.

Thai’s think that all farang are pussies and can’t possibly take their food as hot as the locals do. If you like it hot, do impress upon your waiters/concierge that you want it proper spicy. I sometimes feel like I have to down a bottle of Tabasco to get them to believe me.

Sup:

Face: Although the Thai restaurant here (Lan Na Thai), is nothing to write home about, Face, the bar, is great. Serves good cocktails and is in a stunning teak housing complex.

Bed Supperclub: Again, one for the kids, but it’s still quite fun.

Q Bar: still fun here too, but better if you are in a bigger group as at least it’s easier for the boys to avoid the hookers (if they want to…).

BKK has lost it’s party really, after the crackdown. If you hang out in some of the bigger clubs though it’s easy to meet people and there is a big scene in underground after-parties (in fact most of them seem to be on roofs).

Soi Nana and Soi Cowboy. As long as you’re not with your parents, or clients, then having a drink in both these Sois can be fun if you haven’t been to BKK before and you’re undecided on the moral dilemma of it all. It’s certainly the better end of the prostitution business, if there is a better end. I have no issue with girls (or boys, or lady boys) dancing round with next to nothing on, or shooting ping pong balls out of their more private orifices, but the take-it-home side of things does make me wince.

For a good overview of prostitution in Asia, that actually gives you some decent context read Louise Brown’s Sex Slaves - the trafficking of women in Asia. The content is useful and enlightening, even if the delivery is heavy-handed.

Day spas:

Ah, one of my favourite pursuits in Thailand.

Lavana Spa: I love this spa, it’s on Soi 12

I am a massive herbal ball massage fan, and they have five different varieties here, made up of different herbs for different purposes (you can even watch the ladies making them, and buy them in the shop, all their products are made in-house).

This is a big spa, they have nearly 50 rooms and it’s a bit of a labyrinth. Rooms are crisp and clean, and their therapists are superb. It’s actually quite an art to perform a herbal ball massage correctly and this is the best I’ve encountered. It’s not as plush as a 5* hotel, but it’s still stylish, at least half the price and it’s really very good. BHT850 (less than HK$200) for 90 minutes of massage is staggeringly reasonable. You’d be hard pressed to wait more than 10mins for a therapist if you walked off the street (although booking is advisable at busy times), and it’s open until 2am. Perfect.

Mulberry: I also love this spa, but mainly for foot massages. Soi 23.

I am a complete reflexology glutton – an addict even. The two best foot massages I’ve ever had have been here, and then at Dragonfly in Beijing.

The surroundings are very sweet and homely here – it’s set in a big wooden house with gardens, so it’s a very enjoyable place to spend some quality time. I’d go to Lavana which is very close by for other massages and treatments though. I had a facial here which wasn’t brilliant, and their herbal massage didn’t stack up against Lavana either. Again open late, so great for a spot of relexology on the way home from the pub, or if you are suffering from jet lag. Blissful.

Shopping:

Malls:

Siam Paragon and Gaysorn are the top end malls and where most of your designer shops are. I have found that for men especially, the designers here don’t carry many sizes, and it’s difficult to find anything in manly, European sizes, let alone US sizes. I’ve also found that prices are higher than in HK, so I’ve never bought anything top end in BKK.

Siam Discovery Centre is a bit more furniture, nicknacks focussed (even has a Habitat, dontyerknow), some nice shops in here.

Central World (the newest in this strip), Siam Center, MBK, Siam Square and Siam Discovery have all the rest of the things you might be interested in really – its a great conglomeration of shopping, just a very useful place to go and get your acquisition fever out of the way in one fell swoop. Really don’t bother going anywhere else if you only have a short period of time.

Siam Centre is one of my favourites even though it’s a bit old and cramped, as it has a Boots (for all you Brits out there), as well as Jaspal and a slew of funky Thai designer shops (like Fly Now), as well as a couple of great shoe shops in the form of Lyn (cheap and cheerful), and one which stocks shoes by Obsession (I’m not sure the whole shop is called Obsession, I’ll update that later but it’s almost opposite one of the exits of Jaspal). Anyway, suffice to say that especially on the level where Boots is, which is the skytrain level, there are loads of interesting shops.

Soi 23:

There are some very nice homeware type shops up around the Mulberry Spa, on the walk from the Asoke skytrain station to the Eugenia hotel.

Almeta Silk: Beautiful made to order fabrics, choose the thread count and the pantone colour.  You walk in and after 5 minutes wonder how on earth people choose, as you decide all you really want to do is deck your house out in the entire rainbow of colours they have on offer. Great for design freaks who know exactly what shade they need. These guys are used to handling overseas orders. Lots of pre-made merch on sale too. 20/3 Soi Prasarnmitr, Sukhumvit Soi 23. Tel:662 2041413.

Incredible & Eligible: These two furniture/nicknack shops are run by the same guy who is a designer. Incredible is stuffed with the antiques and oddities that inspire him, and Eligible houses the new designs bourne out of these inspirations.

Think old telescopes, hurricane lamps, ancient mirrors, stuffed birds, overstuffed sofas. It’s difficult to explain and I don’t have a photo. Just take a look at the Eugenia Hotel interiors on their website and this is the style of things you’ll find in these two shops. Eligible is at 116/2 Soi 23 (tel: 662 662 8053) and Incredible is at 116/4 (tel 662 260 9690). Really lovely staff too, and you can also commission bespoke pieces which is good news!

Pic from the Eugenia website: don't you want to stay there?!

Pic from the Eugenia website: don't you want to stay there?!

These are my standout stores on this Soi, but take a wander as there are all sorts. For a thorough source I can highly recommend the Luxe Guide to BKK.  I’m not so bowled over by their restaurant recommendations – (to be fair this may well be more a matter of personal taste rather than bad suggestions), but for shopping they are very useful guides if you don’t have a lot of time (and being proper pocket sized, you can avoid looking too much like a tourist).

Cinema.

Quite possibly Bangkok has the best cinema in the world. It’s in the Siam Paragon mall and is called the Enigma Shadow Lounge. The cinema consists of a bar where you can sit and have drinks before the film, and the cinema itself.

There are around 17 booths which are basically 6ft by 6ft beds for two people. There are stacks of silken cushions and pillows as well as silk duvets for you to lie back in and relax. Totally sumptuous. To finish off this experience there is waitress service where you just raise your hand and they come scurrying down to bring you your next beer/G&T/plate of nachos. The screen is huge and you are totally private in your own high sided booth. Bloody marvellous. I have to admit that my recent weekend trips to Bangkok have all been worked around me being able to see the biggest films of the year at Enigma.

This has now become a members’ only cinema, but my hotel concierges have never had a problem getting tickets for us, so that’s probably the best way to sort it out.

One thing to note: Whenever you go to the cinema in Thailand, they play the national anthem before the film and you need to show your respect and stand up.

Places worth making a dash to away from Sukhumvit:

I love Jim Thompson’s house (and it’s on a skytrain line). I must have been there 5 times, and never stop enjoying it. I love the garden, I love the styling, I love the colours, and I actually really love the shop.  The handbags and scarves are particular favourites, (there are good branches of the shop in lots of the top malls in BBK including the ones mentioned above).

Vertigo at the Banyan Tree. Bar literally on the roof, nestled amongst the air-conditioning units 61 stories up. Spectacular. Well worth a visit at sundown, and best to arrive at that time to get a good spot. It is a bitch to get to unless you are staying in Silom, so I suggest leaving an hour to get there if you are in and around Siam Square, longer if you are at the Eugenia.

smashing photo from their website

smashing photo from their website

Cafe de Laos (in Silom like the Banyan Tree, so good idea to go here for supper after your aperitif at Vertigo for some really good Laotian/Isaan food), and Suan Thip, a fantastic half day river trip with lunch or dinner.

Tips and notes:

Thai’s like tips as much as the rest of us. Try and take pink/orange taxis as they are newer. Avoid tuk-tuks unless you are going somewhere close by and the traffic is awful as at least the tuk-tuks can squeeze down the sides. Keep your handbags out of sight, and expect to smell of exhaust fumes and kerosene afterwards. I admit to taking a motocycle taxi once, as I was shopping and would have missed my flight home if I hadn’t. I wouldn’t make a habit of it.
causticcandy_bangkoktuktuk

Use your concierge to the max. The Luxe guide is good for shops, not so hot for restaurants. Nancy Chandler’s Map of Bangkok is also incredibly useful. So useful, that even I, who hates looking like a tourist, will get it out on a street corner to consult. I don’t bother with any other guides than these. Pick up restaurant/events/bar recommendations from the listings mags like BK Mag and Metro amongst others. You can pick the guides up easily around BKK, but best is at the Asia Books store next to the ATMs outside Siam Skytrain station as it’s always a good place to start a weekend in BKK.

Remember to tell your waiters how hot you want your food, and if you don’t ask or tell them, it will come to you almost bland because of all the years of bloody package tourists who can’t take their heat.

Da Ping Huo – Food is good, but is it Caustic or Candy?

•August 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Review:

Now that I have rediscovered my hearty, homely, more informal Sichuan favourite San Xi Lou (I lost it for two years, when it closed as Man Jiang Hong in CWB and became San Xi Lou in Central), I no longer have to brave Madame Wong’s end-of-service party trick quite so often – which is a relief.

dapinghuo_causticcandy

You see, I think Madame Wong’s genuine Sichuan food at Da Ping Huo is really very good. The decor is stylish and I think her husband and front-of-house manager is also very adept at what he does, and is a knowledgeable and friendly man.

However, some of the notes Madame hits when she emerges from the kitchen to sing Sichuan Opera at the end of the evening, hit me like a sonic weapon, making my lips curl back, blood drip from my eyes and the wax melt in my ears.

They pierce my skull and reach deep into the most primitive medullas of my brain, squeezing them in a fist of steel. I have to grip the table edge with all my might so that I don’t appal everyone by stuffing my fingers in my ears and screaming for her to shut up.

Maybe I’m part canine and the notes she hits are to me like a dog whistle is to man’s best friend.

Suffice to say, that I think Da Ping Huo might experience more repeat business if the singing was only on certain nights of the week, and therefore avoidable.  It makes the experience feel very themed, and it does put me off going as often as I’d like to, (or maybe this is a ruse so they don’t have to change the menu too often, as they know that most people wouldn’t be able to stand the operatics more than once a month…)

Anyhew, on to the food.

Food: As natives of Sichuan, the owners do put on an authentic meal, (my friend from Chengdu rates the food highly). You are fed what Madame Wong wants to feed you. You have about 8 courses in total. The menu is well balanced, combining some deeply spicy-hot dishes that leave your nose streaming and you drinking beer by the gallon, with more delicate ones, and then some in between.

The food is truly delicious, artistically presented and so far is the most elegantly executed Sichuan cuisine I have found in Hong Kong.

However, I have to say that I’m pretty sure, give or take a couple of dishes, I have had the same menu each time I have visited. I’d love to know what other people’s experiences have been, but I do think they could mix it up a bit more. Let me know…

Drinks: the usual beer, teas and soft drinks etc, but a couple of interesting additions like plum wine (which I’ve been led to believe takes the sting off the chilli a bit).

Service: Service is good, Mr Wang introduces each dish which is helpful, and waiters are efficient and subtle.

Ambience:  Mr Wang is an artist and so the whole restaurant is very stylish. The backdrop is minimalist so that his own works stand out displayed around the walls. It’s a chic, industrial, minimalist vibe. All good, in fact, until Madame Wong comes out to shatter your eardrums.

The first time I heard her, it was fine. I let it go because the concept of the chef coming out to show you their other talents and entertain you is lovely. But by the second or third time, it really is too, too much, especially as, much like the menu not changing, she hasn’t changed her tune once either (how about a spot of Elvis or Doris Day next time?).

Price: Can’t remember the exact price at the moment, and no one’s answering the phone down there. It’s a good value meal – less than HK$300 for the food, so with drinks and service it ends up around $400-$500 depending on how thirsty you are or what you’re thirsty for.

Location: GF, 49 Hollywood Road, Central. (Slightly tricky to find, entrance is on Graham Street which is the little alley shooting down the hill at the junction of Lyndhurst Terrace and Hollywood Road). Tel: 2559-1317. It is always a good idea to book ahead. There are two strict sittings per night.

Da Ping Huo, is great for taking out-of-town guests and tourists, as the food is real good, the decor stylish and the experience out of the ordinary. But I myself can’t go more than 2 or 3 times a year simply because of the singing and the menu not changing.

Thankfully as I’ve found San Xi Lou, my Sichuan experiences now balance in Hong Kong, and so once again I can look forward to going to Da Ping Huo, in the knowledge that I have another really enjoyable Sichuan restaurant to satisfy my chilli lust on a more regular basis.

San Xi Lou, Central. Lip tingling, tongue twanging Sichuan.

•August 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Review:

I am a stupid gweimui.

I used to go to a Sichuan restaurant in Causeway Bay, on the first floor of a building on the corner of Hennesey and Percival, but it didn’t have an English name. It was ludicrous hot, very reasonably priced, had monthly beer bucket specials and was just fun, fun, fun.

So, when it closed about two and a half years ago, I was at a bit of a loss. Filled with sadness, I started hunting for a replacement, and have never been totally satisfied with what I have found.

Yesterday, through the holy power of t’internet and Google translate, I discovered that said restaurant had reopened under a different name (and telephone number…*!$%!) in Mid-Levels.  Coda Plaza to be exact.  Two years ago it opened and two bloody years it took me to discover that. What a noddy!

The new restaurant is called San Xi Lou, (and the old one was called Man Jiang Hong), and such is my fondness for their old restaurant, that I went there straight away for supper, and I can tell you my little chickadees – I was not disappointed.

Food: Big menu, lots of quintessential Sichuan dishes, lots of chilli, lots of hot, lots of cold, good collection of soups too.

It starts off well when they bring you pickles (for free: Hunan Garden…) that can blow the top of your head off. Gets you right in da mood.

Stalwart of Sichuan dining, chicken with dry chilli and pepper (or stupid gweilo chicken as it’s more fondly known by me) San Xi Lou style, is a fully interactive experience.

You have to dig for those nuggets of chicken through mounds of dry chilli and sichuan pepper. Oo, the fights that have taken place to try and find the last bits of chicken, the satisfaction of gnawing round the bones, the sweetness of the cashew nuts and the freshness of the coriander. Just delicious. As soon as my lips began to tingle from the hua jiao, my mind was at peace – certain dishes evoke big, happy memories, and for me this is one of my favourite.

lip tingling, tongue twanging stuff
lip tingling, tongue twanging stuff

Let’s not get carried away though. This is not the most elegant Sichuan cuisine you can find in Hong Kong. It’s a bit greasy (well in fact some of the dishes are just huge buckets of produce stewed in oil), but I suppose it’s even more authentic because of this. I certainly haven’t come out of a Sichuan restaurant in Chengdu without a great, red, oily stain around my chops.

What it is though, is solid Sichuan – silly hot, tasty and fresh.

Drink: Decent selection of beer, lots of good teas (we had a very delicate ginseng oolong yesterday), the usual soft drinks and juices (although no drinking yoghurt to calm the stomach), and a selection of wines – still can’t wrap my head around the idea of red and white wine with spicy, super robust flavours. I think the only wine that might possibly go with Sichuan is a good biscuity Champagne (but then I might have to wear my sunglasses at the table just to complete the ludicrous visual of that idea…)

Service: Efficient, friendly – good service. The level of English varies by waiter, so for non-Canto or Mando speakers double check your order.

Ambience: Understated. Brown and earthy shades – lots of carved wooden panels, straight backed, wooden chairs (but with cushions) and booths. Nothing slick or fashionable. Thick carpet, so the noise is dampened.  It was busy and there was a real mix of Hongkees, Mandarin speakers and gweilos.

Price: We paid HK$450 for two, including tea and beer, which we thought was good value. The food was very tasty, the portions large, the service efficient, and the surroundings comfortable.

Location: 7th Floor, Coda Plaza, 51 Garden Road, Central. Tel: 2838 8811

Open: 11am-11pm every day (they also do dim sum lunch and hot pot. Last orders at 10pm)

So there you have it – if you need a break from Madame Wong’s operatics at Da Ping Huo (I love the food, but I go less than I want to because a couple of her notes made my ears bleed) then San Xi Lou is a really good option.

And who needs more than two Sichuan restaaurants in Hong Kong? One is elegant and sophisticated in both cuisine and decor, the other is robust and unpretentious.

That’s Sichuans sorted then.

Hunan Garden, Central: A 60’s Psychedelic Torture Chamber

•August 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Review:

Continuing in my quest to find a good Sichuan restaurant in Hong Kong I have widened the scope to also include Hunanese establishments.

I took myself to Hunan Garden in Exchange Square last week, and having made the connection only now that it’s a Maxim’s restaurant, I’m even more baffled by the decor and ambience.

I probably wouldn’t go back to this branch, but would try the outlet in Causeway Bay instead as it looks like it might be a bit gentler on the eyes and ears.

Ambience: On entry, the first thing that strikes you is that the restaurant looks very dated and tired.

On striking out for your table, you are visually assaulted by both the garish, over-patterned carpet that swims before your eyes, and the violent pink table cloths, as well as being aurally assaulted by the piercing piping of a Chinese oboe player.

So eyes squinted, teeth gritted we made our way to the back of the room, enduring this psychedelic torture which was strangely reminiscent of the Ipcress File.

Once seated, we were presented with about 12 different menus of specials, seasonal dishes, signature dishes, michelin guide suggestions, and rather annoyingly a complex menu from HSBC of pick and mix dishes that when ordered in certain combinations, gave you different discounts…

…At least this is what I could gather having been thoroughly cowed and bamboozled. Menu overkill is just plain irritating, I felt like frisbeeing them across the room.

Having spent the next 15 minutes scrutinising the menus (apart from the HSBC one out of principle), we plumped for a good mix – a couple of signature dishes, which were the minced chicken soup and the fish with yellow bean; hot, shredded potato; stir-fried bitter gourd; stir-fried beef with onions; and stupid-gweilo chicken a.k.a chicken with dry chilli, garlic and sichuan pepper.

Now that we had ordered, we were able to take a bit more of a look around, and thankfully the oboe player had swapped his instrument for an erhu which was positively soothing in comparison. The decor is rubbish -

1) Patched carpets using cuttings from a slightly different pattern.

2) Colour scheme – pink, green, red, brown, grey, gold.

3) Materials – marble/granite, varnished wood, lacquer, frosted glass, chromed partition frames, pearlescent wallpaper, crappy cardboardy white/grey ceiling tiles.

All the varnish, polished stone, glass and lacquer throws back so much reflected light that the whole impression is just jarring and awful when coupled with the colour scheme used.

This is why I’m so surprised to find it’s a Maxims.  They have some fantastically designed restaurants, and this one is the pits.  It’s so huge that if they did decide to redecorate they needn’t even close the whole place, they could redo in halves. Anyway. Onward to the food.

Food: We enjoyed the food, all of it was good apart from the fish with yellow bean which was slathered in so much sauce it made me nauseous after a couple of bites.

It is actually a very badly thought out dish, as there is nothing to cut through the cloying sauce. Lovely piece of fish, and the yellow bean paste is tasty enough, but together it’s an unbalanced mess – I would avoid.

The chicken came in large, boneless hunks (not quite enough chilli for me, but as I got a Sichuan pepper berry caught in one of my sinus tubes, this provided enough entertainment, numbness and eye-watering for one night), the shredded potato with peppers and chilli was beautifully cooked and not greasy, the bitter gourd was cold and crisp and super bitter, and the beef was tender and tasty.

Service: Service was fine.  Efficient and discreet.

Price: We spent $550 for two which we thought was good value for money for the food if not the whole experience. Note that we did only drink tea.

Location: 1F, The Forum, Exchange Square, Central, Hong Kong.  I would definitely suggest trying the Times Square outlet (13th Floor) over this venue though.

I would choose Peking Garden (another Maxim’s restaurant) over Hunan Garden 9 times out of 10, the food is comparable (in fact I would say that Peking Garden is slightly better) and I can just about satisfy my craving for chilli there.  Maybe I’ll change my mind when I’ve been to Times Square.

Oh well, the hunt for the ultimate Sichuan continues…

Update: I have found the Sichuan restaurant.  It was called Man Jiang Hong in CWB and then moved to Central and changed it’s name and number !*@%. It’s San Xi Lou in Coda Plaza. Review here.

Indian Lunch Buffets – 7.5 to chose from HK side.

•August 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Reviews:

The Curry lunch buffets of Hong Kong Island, in some kind of order of preference.

1) The Conrad (see here for full review)

Every weekday is curry lunch day at the Conrad Hotel.  The reason this is my favourite buffet is that they have a chef on continual duty making dosas.

They have a good mix of veggie and meat curries and it’s top notch food. Plus if you like dessert there is a choice of about 10.

As ever in a top hotel like The Conrad the service is very good, the only slight bother is the low tables which means that you can end up with indigestion unless you remember to sit up properly!

Price: HK$250 + 10%. Expensive but worth it.

Location: Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong. Tel: 852-2521-3838

2) Khana Khazana (see here for full review)

KK does a very reasonable buffet lunch, totally veggie and usually have dosa as part of the deal. If it’s not dosa then it’s either idlis or some kind of puri. Either way, it’s nice to have something a bit different.

Price: HK$88. Super reasonable, and very tasty.

Location: 1F, Dannies House, 20 Luard Road, Wanchai. Entrance is on Jaffe Road though. Tel: 2520 5308

3) Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club

Wednesday is curry lunch at the Yacht Club. If you can find someone with a membership then this is very good value (ha, of course it is, the member has to pay!). Always bustling on this day and the spread is very comprehensive, although they don’t have dosa. The Yacht Club is one of the most unstuffy clubs in Hong Kong and has a lovely restaurant and terrace. Service is very good too.

Price: HK$105.  Good value for the quality, service and environment.

Location: Kellet Island, Causeway Bay. Tel: 2832 2817

4) IRC - Indian Recreation Club (rather odd website…)

Most people probably know the IRC best as the location of The Tent at the Rugby Sevens. You don’t have to be a member to have lunch, you can buy vouchers at the reception on the way in.

Whilst not a buffet, I’ve included it here as it’s cheap and cheerful for lunch. If the weather isn’t too hot then sitting outside on the patio, gazing out across the grass pitches in this haven of quiet in Causeway Bay is a great way to break up a hectic day in the office. They also do a mean samosa.

Price: Lunch costs between HK$50 and $100 a head.

Location: 63 Caroline Hill Road, So Kon Po (opposite Hong Kong Stadium). Tel 2576 1673

5) Jashan

Jashan is a bit hit and miss, but when I’ve been for lunch it’s been very good. It’s been a couple of evening meals where I’ve had some snags (uncooked meat in curries type of issues). Any Indian restaurant that doesn’t serve dosa every day immediately slips off my favourites list, but if I was in Central I’d give definitely go to Jashan for lunch once in a while. It has a wide variety of dishes, and serves various puris every day. If I didn’t have to eat in Central then I would go to one of the restaurants above.

Price: HK$98.

Location: 1F, 23 Hollywood Road, Central. Tel: 3105 5300

6) Tandoor.

I more often go to Tandoor for supper than lunch, and even then not very often. I’m not a fan of Central’s curry houses, preferring Wanchai and of course my fave – Southern India Club Mess in Chungking Mansions. The food is good here, I’m just not a big fan of the venue as it has too many tables for the space, especially when the customers are shuttling too and fro to the buffet.

Price: HK$118

Location: 1F Lyndhurst Tower, 1 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central. Tel: 3105 5300

7) Curry Pot

In the lunch buffet rankings, Curry Pot doesn’t stack up against the restaurants above. I find the Curry Pot’s fare more akin to British curry restaurants, i.e. a bit heavy handed.

Price: HK$88.

Location: 1/F., 68-70 Lockhart Road, Wanchai. Tel: 2865 6099

As I haven’t been to Viceroy in Wanchi since it morphed into Duetto, I can’t include it here.  If the chefs and the concept is the same though, it’s definitely worth a look-see, and at $88 is again very reasonable.

Curry Buffet Lunch – Conrad takes top marks for food.

•August 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Review:

There are many options for curry buffet lunch on Hong Kong Island, I must have tried at least 10, but there are old favourites that I go back to time and again.

After a truly good meal yesterday at the Conrad my trusty companion, and long-time Indian restaurant guide (originally from Bangalore), and I have decided that it’s hands down the best for food.

conrad lobby hk

Food: Winning factor numero un, is that they have a dosa chef at the head of the buffet constantly primed to take your order.

Winning factor numero deux, is that the head chef at the moment is from Kerala, so the food has a definite southern India bent, but this also means that the dishes are generally lighter in texture than those made by North Indian chefs, so you feel more than able to continue your work day afterwards.

It’s easy to go veggie or carnivorous, there are lots of salads and fresh made pickles and chutneys and you get the added bonus of the Conrad’s pastry chef’s providing dessert.

Yesterday, amongst other things including 2 dosa, I had the most mouth-watering lemon pilau rice flavoured with kaffir lime leaves, and a beautiful dhal, which on the face of it you would think is easy to master, but the flavours and textures were perfect. It’s not often that simple dishes of rice and lentils make you actually stop eating and discuss the food.

Drinks: What you’d predict at a 5* hotel, plus they do really good chai.

Service:  5* Conrad, so exactly what you’d expect from such an establishment.

Ambience: The buffet takes place in the Lobby Lounge which is a very pleasant, light-filled environment. Mind-bogglingly, the buffet is rarely very busy, so it’s a very good place to go for lunch.

Only marginal inconvenience for me is eating from coffee table height. Not being able to get your legs under the table makes for slightly uncomfortable dining for girls as you can’t really sit there legs akimbo, so you are always twisting slightly to eat.

Price: $250 +10% service.  Now, this is a good deal more expensive than a lot of the other curry lunches in town, but it is well worth treating yourself once in a while.

Location: Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong. Tel: 852-2521-3838

 
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