Category Archives: Wan Chai

The One With The Butchers Club Burgers – It’s No Place For A Diet

I couldn’t remember the last time I had burger this good.

The Butchers Club Burgers

Imagine this – a packed corner shop with hard, tall stools and sharp edged tables. A roaring kitchen doing a brisk trade and a bustling crew of waiters serving trays of burgers and fries. I was eating standing up – partly because I figured I would use less space that way, and because I expect my waistline to dangerously expand after some serious burger-guzzling.

Which I did. And it did.

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The One With Shanghai Lo – Surprising Restaurant Packing Quite A Punch

It wasn’t exactly love at first sight.

As we stepped into the restaurant, the somewhat gloomy interior and dark furnishing reminded me strongly (for some strange reasons) of a karaoke lounge. Granted, Shanghai Lo is probably very new, and the deco – contemporary Chinese with hard straight lines exuded a vibe of privacy and seclusion. The cubicle tables comfortably seats four though most were used by couples, and I saw some very promising private rooms perfect for a small group gatherings. It was buzzy without being too noisy.

The One With Shanghai Lo

But I wasn’t there to comment on its interior. The tasting menu ($368 per pax) looked very pretty good, so we went for those.

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The One With The Pawn – Modern British Fare

Unless you are really in-the-know, one seldom associate The Pawn with food. The British establishment, housed within a historical building in Wan Chai that was previously (surprise!) a pawnshop, is better known for being a good spot for drinks, what with its spacious bar area that occupies the second floor of the building.

In fact, it wasn’t until I was invited to The Pawn for a tasting dinner that I realised this place serve food. Great British food, at that. We were blessed with some very fair weather the night we visited, so the four of us were seated at the balcony on the third floor, which was cosy and rustic with a laid-back feel. It was one of those rare finds in Hong Kong where the restaurant has plenty of space – great for privacy and personal space – right smack in the middle of town.

The Pawn’s 5th Anniversary Menu

To commemorate its fifth year anniversary, the good folks at The Pawn came up with a great, reasonably priced menu of modern British fare that serves four. To add more feel-good factor to their celebration, an optional $10 is added to every dinner bill (and $5 for lunch) to be donated to the local charity St. James’ Settlement.

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The One With Han Kook Gwan – Affordable Korean In Wanchai

Had it not been for my colleagues, I would have never found the place.

Han Gook Kwan is one of those restaurant tucked away in a little back alley that few venture in. Only those in the knows would brave those steep slope, past some dodgy looking stalls looking for the popular Korean restaurant famous for its affordable lunch set and and hence packed with office crowd every day of the week.

With set lunches ranging from HK$68 – HK$98, these deals are hard to beat. Especially when you start off your meals with those little plates of Korean appetisers. You get eight different variety regardless of the size of your group.

There were two of us that afternoon.

Han Kook Gwan Korean Restaurant

I didn’t want to eat too much, but then again didn’t want my colleague to miss out. So I quickly recommended what seems to be the more popular dish of Han Gook Kwan – a bowl spicy, sour kimchi soup with seafood and beancurd. The broth is always appetising though the seafood portion was a tad too small, even for a lady. Perhaps more mussels, please?

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The One With Maureen – Wan Chai Chinese Noodles Bar With Slow Cooked Food

It was a noodle bar with a name that was hard to resist. Especially when you have a friend whose name is also Maureen and you wanted to try a new place for your first dinner gathering in the new year.

Maureen's Noodles

Finding Maureen (that’s the name of the restaurant, short and sweet) has been more than a challenge. At least three cab drivers claimed not to know the street, and on my fourth attempt, I demanded the driver to look at my map and to get me there. Tip: To get to Hing Wan Street, you are better off looking for Stone Nullah Lane (石水渠街). That’s where the famous Blue House of Hong Kong is located at. A few doors down from Maureen is the Wanchai Visual Archive. You can’t miss it, with its patron spilling out from the bar onto the sidewalk with their merrymaking while the entire street was eerily silent.

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The One With Fullka Cantonese Cuisine – The Unsung Hero In Causeway Bay / Wanchai

Once in a while you need to break out from your normal routine to discover new experience and enjoy different food. Thanks to my relentless colleagues who were out to get me for lunch every Friday (I swear, they timed it with their calendar), I found myself surrounded by the lovely ladies from the marketing department for some great Cantonese fare at the Fullka Restaurant.

Never heard of Fullka before? Well, neither did I, until that afternoon. Apparently this place was off-radar for most foodies, which was apparent by how not full it was during lunchtime on a working weekday. Further investigation revealed that this restaurant was previously named Home Wanchai (does that sound familiar?) and was helmed by Chef Lee Yue Ching of ‘Ah Yat Abalone’ fame. The set lunch was a steal at HK$88, where you get soup, one main course with rice, and a dessert. Since the main course is rather large in portion, you can go with a few friends so that you can mix and match from its extensive menu of true Cantonese food.

And so on to the lunch.

Pig Stomach Soup

Fullka Cantonese Cuisine

Hand’s down, the best starter soup I have ever tried in Hong Kong (and that’s saying something). The soup was intense with peppery taste and was well balanced with the meaty goodness of the excellent pig stomach. The soup burns down as you drink it, in a very comforting way. It was such a perfect, fiery soup for a cold winter day.

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The One With Ming Kei Restaurant – A Lesson In Chinese Soup

It is customary for the Chinese to start their meal with a hearty bowl of soup. When I say hearty, I mean delicious, often healthy and detoxifying, bowl of goodness usually made with some serious herbs, greens and meats.

Ming Kei Restaurant may not the best place for soup in Hong Kong, but I have been to this place often enough in the past to know that their soup is decent, served in a large claypot pot. You can usually order one large pot if your table has at least four diners. If you are unsure of what soup to order, ask for “lei tong“, which is kind of the term to use for “soup of the day”.

Ming Kei Seafood Restaurant

There are many reasons why the Chinese like to have soup with their meal. Even if the typical soup you can get from a restaurant does not usually have healing powers, a bowl of lovingly prepared Chinese soup will make us feel better, a definite comfort after a long day at work. The Chinese also believe that soup is the perfect food when your ying is out of balance of the yang. Just ask the Chinese grandma painstakingly brew endless pots of chicken soup for their ailing grandchildren. It’s a tried and tested tradition that medical sciences have only begin to understand.

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The One With 22 Ships – Pricey But Delicious Spanish Tapas

So I have heard much about 22 Ships, one of the many Spanish places opening up all over the cities. I quite liked how they named their restaurant. It’s no stroke of genius, but it certainly put a spin into telling my friends where to meet up for dinner. “Hey, meet me at 22 Ships at Ship Street.” How about, “Let’s drink up at Leighton 8 and 8 Leighton Road,” or “We do dim sum at The Tin Lok at Tin Lok Lane“.

Well, you get the drift.

22 Ships

Let’s put it this way – 22 Ships is no ship, size-wise.. The place is tiny, cramped and certainly look more like a bar than a restaurant. While the vibe is infectiously buzzy, the utter lack of privacy between diners – I could literally eat off my neighbour’s plate – made it not a destination of choice if you are after romantic dinners. There’s only so many “I love you”s you could utter across your paella without the people around you sniggering and rolling their eyes.

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The One With Ipoh Malaysian Restaurant – Down Memory Lane

Who would have thought? All these while, I thought the only decent Malaysian food available in Hong Kong can be sampled only at Sabah Malaysian Restaurant. But within a week, a friend recommended me to go Good Satay at Tsim Sha Tsui (which I must try soon!), and yet another brought me to Ipoh Malaysian Restaurant.

A restaurant named after my hometown – how could I possibly missed this?! I must have passed by the shop along Johnston Road plenty of time, yet I have never realised the existence of this shop. Let it be a lesson to all; have a bright, outstanding signage promoting your shop, or Ipohites like me will never notice it!

I was there one Sunday afternoon; the place wasn’t crowded, save for a large table of youngsters whom I suspect must have been Malaysians. It’s the language lah, you can’t miss it. So we ordered three of the many available set lunch options.

Bak Kut Teh

Bak Kut Teh

I loved bak kut teh, but to my dismay the soup is way too watery for my liking. The herbal soup is supposed to be rich in taste and heavy with herbs. Two stale, miserable-looking yao ja guai didn’t really help matter. But I had to commend the pork ribs; well choosen, cooked to tender perfection and deceivingly easy to bite off the bones. If only the soup could do it justice…

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The One With Roast Pot – Must-Visit Hotpot / Steamboat Spot in Wan Chai

Since moving to Hong Kong, I have grown to love hotpot aka steamboat aka the best invention of Hong Kong food, ever. It is not like there wasn’t any steamboat (or hotpot) in Singapore, but they are really far, far inferior when compared to their Hong Kong counterpart.

Hotpot Dinner at Roast Pot

I have a few favorites. One of them is New Star Seafood Steamboat, which was my first hotpot discovery and I loved it to death because of its endless all-you-can-eat buffet, which include beer! And then I went a little high end and tried the Golden Valley Restaurant, which earned thumbs-up from round the table but at close to $400 per pax for ten shared dishes, it is not something you can indulge in often.

Which was why, when Roast Pot (南燒北鍋) came along, I sighed with relief.

Hotpot Dinner at Roast Pot

For Roast Pot fall squarely in between New Star and Golden Valley. The food variety and quality are much better than New Star, and price was it was way below of what you would pay at Golden Valley. Now come to think of it, I think I have been to Roast Pot for at least five times in the past half a year.

Yes, five times! Is it a wonder why my waistline never fall below 30″?

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