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'Hong Kong Cuisine' ( aka1983 ), Happy Valley - Now I understand why it earns one of Openrice highest rating!!

Charles Yu Mar 6, 2013 03:46 AM

After enduring some mediocre food during my first day stay in Hong Kong, the tide was quickly turned by some superlative delicacies and offerings from 'Hong Kong Cuisine', Happy Valley!!

If there is one culinary wasteland on Hong Kong island side, Happy Valley must be it! Therefore, I was totally taken by surprise by the high quality food at this relatively new establishment located on some obscure side street, a few blocks from the race course.

The forte of this restaurant apparently lies in the fact that the kitchen has the skill and capability to execute, authentically and brilliantly, dishes from various regions all over China! Be it Cantonese, Shanghainese, Pekingnese or Sichuan...etc.

Our party of three settled for the 4 course set lunch menu that gave us the option and flexiblity to choose our own Dim Sums ( be it northern or southern ), different types of soup, as well as different entrees choices.

We selected the 'must-have' Har Gow shrimp dumplings, Char Xiao Bao ( BBQ Pork steamed buns ) and Pork and Veggie Pot Stickers. For the soup, we picked the ' Supreme Soup Dumplings with fresh crab meat and dried scallops " and ' Double boiled Black Silken Chicken with wild mushrooms medley and Chinese Ham '. For entree, we opted for the 'healthy' choice - Fried rice with minced Chinese Ham, Conpoy, diced fresh Asparagus and Egg white. Dessert was a Green Tea/Mango mochi.

To augment the above, we also decided to add a 'Shanghainese Smoked Fish' dish just for fun and to try out their ' Shanghainese capability '.

Of all the dishes we ordered, I cannot fault a single one!! Every dim sum morsels were meticiulously prepared and executed. The seasoning of the filling delicious and refreshing! Shrimps were crunchy and sweet, the BBQ pork bun fluffy with an abundent of juicy filling. Pot stickers were totally non-greasy with a perfectly thin skin and crispy bottom. The shell wrapper encased so much pork filling and broth that one wrong move/bite and one's friend seating across the table will be showered by 'squirting liquid'!! Fried rice was one of the most flavourful I have eaten. Only the uber delicious Yang Chow fried rice from Yung Kee beat it by a whisker! Both soups were delicate and delicious. Finally, the moist and chewy Shanghainese Smoked Fish covered with an addictive sweet sauce was a dish to remember! How I wish we can get something like this quality in Toronto!!

Only slight mishap was the Har Gow Wrapper that unfortunately fell apart when picked up. A touch too long in the steamer?

After such an enjoyable meal, I decided to extend my culinary exploration of this gem by having a more elaborate dinner at a later date.

Now, I hope this positive trend will continue tomorrow!! ( 2 Michelin star restaurants awaiting!! ).

One last thing! Instead of handing the patrons hard copy of menu, they give you an 'iPad' with dishes description, photos, price...etc. One can even order the dishes thru the mini-computer without even talking to a single 'human' serve person!!

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  1. k
    klyeoh RE: Charles Yu Mar 6, 2013 04:30 AM

    Good review, Charles! Made me wish I'm in HK right now.

    BTW, Happy Valley = 'culinary wasteland'?! My cousin on Wong Nai Chung Rd will be weeping. Have you tried the old French restaurant, Amigo, there recently? That's one place I'd want to try on my next trip.

    As for the IPad menu and ordering thang, Charles, quite a few restaurants in Singapore and even Kuala Lumpur have that system now.

    Tampopo Restaurant in Liang Court, Singapore, for instance, has a conveyor belt sushi system but where the main conveyor belt also has branches going into separate individual tables. When you order via the touch-screen menu on your table, your items will be delivered directly to your table as microchips are embedded under each of those little sushi plates that will identify your table as their destination.

    11 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh
      Charles Yu RE: klyeoh Mar 6, 2013 05:52 AM

      Sorry, if I made your cousin weep!! However, IMHO, that's fact!! Apart from Amigo (which is super-expensive) and a Tasty branch, I am really hard press to identify another outfit worth my making a special trip to?!!
      Love the restaurants in the HK jockey club! But that's ' Members Only'!!

      1. re: Charles Yu
        K K RE: Charles Yu Mar 6, 2013 12:13 PM

        Depends how one defines "culinary wasteland".

        The two cha chaan tengs right off Wong Nai Chung Rd are pretty decent, one is more older and divey than the other.

        There's Fu Loy which Loudmouth manly woman Ah So deems the best sweet and sour pork in town (further up the hill) from a few years back.

        The roasties shop near the two cha chaan tengs is also quite excellent for local fare/rice plates.

        The food court on the top floor of the wet market, has some cheap decent eats, Cheung Kee for thick toast, and I think Tai Kee for thin toast. Chu Kee in the cooked food center you can get some stir fry, seafood, and even braised abalone. When I visited Cheung Kee, I sat next to an expat who came originally from Singapore, moved to the UK, who used to live in Happy Valley and was a steady regular for breakfast (she had a sausage preserved veggie rice noodle soup).

        Then there's Chuk Yuen on Wong Nai Chung Rd, cheese baked lobster and some dish made with durian.

        My uncle took my aunt on their first date to Amigo....shows how old that restaurant is. I thought it was a Mexican place!

        1. re: K K
          klyeoh RE: K K Mar 6, 2013 04:23 PM

          One of the naming quirks in HK, but yes, Amigo restaurant serves French despite its Mexican-sounding name :-)

          1. re: K K
            Charles Yu RE: K K Mar 6, 2013 05:04 PM

            Agree KK! In this case our definition for 'Culinary' is definitely different.

            1. re: Charles Yu
              K K RE: Charles Yu Mar 6, 2013 06:05 PM

              Come to think of it 1983 seems to be operating something similarly along the lines of 駿景軒 Golden Valley (also in Happy Valley)....not too long ago Ah So was also debating the merits of this restaurant, claiming to have the best ha gow in town (maybe only for her). But in looking at internet reviews they praise the dan dan noodles and some of the other Sichuanese dishes.

              These places even if ok by local standards, are definitely a far cry (and steps ahead) of Chinese restaurants in California (North and South) that try to do a medley of Cantonese and regional Chinese to cater to the Mandarin speakers, but miss the mark by Canto expat standards.

              1. re: K K
                klyeoh RE: K K Mar 6, 2013 08:22 PM

                I'm of the opinion that Chinese restaurants in Southern California do passable to fairly okay Taiwanese cuisine. But you're right, good Cantonese is really hard to come by *anywhere* in California, even in the SF Bay Area.

          2. re: Charles Yu
            Jon914 RE: Charles Yu Mar 15, 2013 12:51 AM

            There's a good Thai-style (meaning de-boned) Hainan Chicken rice place that we've taken out from several times. It's worth a shot next time you're in the area.


          3. re: klyeoh
            PhilD RE: klyeoh May 18, 2013 05:37 PM

            We ate at Amigo last night. It is really a flashback to a different age and quite wonderful because of it. Founded in 1967 its still going strong and was packed with diners celebrating birthdays. Food is served by white gloved waiters, dishes arrive on trolleys, crepes suzettes are flamed table side, and the wandering band serenade your table (they did a very credible version of the Gangman Style).

            The food is fine, not great but perfect in its context. The set menu for four courses is about HK$890 and the ALC isn't too bad. And the wine list at first seems totally over the top with early pages in the HK$150,000 range, but after wading through the tome we found a good, slightly aged, Languedoc at $350 and some fine Rioja at HK$400. Wine that is cheaper and far better quality than most other places in HK.

            Its a great fun restaurant - totally wrong for the gourmet visitor chasing authenticity - but perfect for someone who loves something different and want to experience something that probably won't be around for ever and once its gone won't be repeated.

            1. re: PhilD
              Charles Yu RE: PhilD May 18, 2013 06:52 PM

              Thanks for the memory!!! I had my first Foie Gras Baptism there years ago!! From Strasbourg and aux Truffle!! too

              1. re: PhilD
                Uncle Yabai RE: PhilD May 19, 2013 06:52 PM

                I love that place, it's like walking into a true time warp. As you said, the food is good, not outstanding or the slightest bit inventive, but a classic nonetheless.

                1. re: Uncle Yabai
                  Charles Yu RE: Uncle Yabai May 20, 2013 07:58 AM

                  @ PhilD and Uncle Yabai
                  For nostalgia, have you both tried ' Jimmy's Kitchen ' at Wyndham Street Central? Good old classic dishes like Prawn cocktail, Oxtail soup with Barley, Chicken Kiev, Steak and Kidney pie, Steak Diane, English Trifle...etc

            2. n
              NilesCable RE: Charles Yu Mar 6, 2013 05:56 AM

              Sounds very interesting and makes me salviating. I wish I was already there and not only going at the end of next week.

              1. l
                Lau RE: Charles Yu Mar 6, 2013 04:27 PM

                wow great pics and looks great although sounds weird since its like jack of all trade, but man that does look good

                1. h
                  Hot Chocolate RE: Charles Yu Mar 9, 2013 08:58 AM

                  Golden Valley in Happy Valley's Emperor Hotel is probably one of my favorite restaurants in Hong Kong.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Hot Chocolate
                    Charles Yu RE: Hot Chocolate Mar 9, 2013 03:42 PM

                    Haven't been there for years! So, its still good?! Nice to know. Any 'must order' dishes?!

                    1. re: Charles Yu
                      Hot Chocolate RE: Charles Yu Mar 10, 2013 07:49 PM

                      honestly I only ever get the Hot Pot. Though I've been meaning to try some of their regular dishes...

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