HK Palace Report - Seven Corners
A group of seven Chowhounds tested out the new Sichuan menu at HK Palace in Seven Corners. We were all impressed to the point where we wondered if this is the equal of chef Peter Chang's cooking in the area.
Boiled Peanuts - these are served complimentary at every table
Pickled vegetables as an appetizer (not on the menu)
Chengdu Smoking Tea Duck as an appetizer served room temperature (not on the menu as such, but listed as a main course served heated)
Chengdu Zhong's dumplings
Tany and Specy dumplings (meaning: Tangy and Spicy)
Dan Dan noodles
Chengdu Spicy Cold noodles
Twice cooked pork with fresh garlic leaves
Ziran Lamb (from the specials list on the wall, as interpreted by our waiter)
Fish and Bean Curd Flower in Spicy Sauce
Stir Fried Golden Corn and Eggs
Snow Pea Leaves with Garlic (not on the menu)
With the fabulous assistance of our waiter Tom (waiter of the year award?) we had an exciting, fun, and deeply satisfying meal. Much 'wow' factor.
Others can chime in with notes if they like, but I'll add two insights of my own:
The Smoked Duck is terrific as an appetizer, in small doses. But I had the main course last week and the smoke is overpowering.
The Lamb special we had has a counterpart on the Chinese menu: Ziran Ribs. We were told it is a Tibetan dish. Served dry and numbing, the flavor is a dead ringer for the famous Chen Cang Beef from chef Peter Chang. The lamb is much better than the ribs, though.
There was nothing that was not excellent. Perhaps we have the waiter to thank for that, because he was a gem to work with.
The lamb was as described and fantastic.
I agree on the smoked duck, but don't let that deter you from ordering it. The leftovers would work wonderfully as take-out for snacks over the next few days.
I have never had anything like the corn and eggs. It was large kernels, each coated with the egg batter, that popped when you bit into it. Totally addictive but best ordered with a group because I think you would fatigue eating an entire order, and I'm not sure it would travel well.
The fish and tofu in spicy sauce also was unbelievable. The only tofu that I have had that was silkier was in a restaurant in Kyoto that specializes in fancy tofus.
In a small group, I would have trouble deciding between the two noodle dishes and the two dumpling dishes, as all 4 were very good.
what they said. what an array of great spicy flavors, from the cumin in the lamb numbing your tongue to the gingery peppery bite of the fish and tofu but more complex than that, can't articulate it, to the vinegary tang of the pickled.. cabbage? what was it? at the beginning of it all. and the Golden Corn coming out looking like a big spilled bowl of Kellogg's Corn Pops but tasting crunchy buttery spicy. the twice-cooked pork was a sublime thin-cut pork belly.
that was one awesome lazy-susan-full
When we found out the price of the meal, Pappy wondered aloud "when we leave are we gonna get arrested for stealing?"
I talked to Tom the waiter this afternoon to confirm the discount we received - they're offering a 15% discount on traditional meals eaten there thru the end of this month, and 10% after that, but the discount would not apply to "typical" meals. I call that a bargain, the best I ever had.
I was very impressed with every dish, but I think the chef's real talent shined through in the Twice Cooked Pork. This was made with pork belly, which I assume is traditional. But unlike most dishes using this very fatty ingredient, and many stir-fry items in general, this came without any unwelcome oiliness or greasiness. It was a welcome treat and, I hope, an indication of more wonderful things to come.
When I visited a couple weeks ago, they had only been under this new management 10 days, according to Tom [Xiong (Tom) Tan, MD] and were getting email addresses for those who wished a copy of their menu.
I posted the menu on my site, and you can see it here: www.goodmagic.com/private/menu.htm
So far (Sat eve Dec 16) 80+ people have downloaded it.