The One With ABC Kitchen – A Better Cooking Kitchen?

ABC Kitchen is like an institution in foodie circles around Hong Kong. Those I have spoken to have high regards for the nondescript stall, located at one of wet markets at west part of the island. Finding the place could be tricky; a tiny escalator led up to the cooked food center through a pair of dirty glass doors. Even after passing through, you might be confused by the array of Chinese, Indian and Thai food stalls lining up its walls.

But look a little harder and the cluster of tables with charmingly checkered table clothes will cone into view. Another hint: More than half of its clientele was made up of Westerners. Yes, gweilos and gweipos swirling glasses of red wine in a wet market.

ABC Kitchen @ Sheung Wan

As one of my closest Singaporean friends were in town, I was eager to show him some of the better places to eat at in Hong Kong. Hence I made an advance reservation at this place, at an ungodly hour of 9.00 p.m., hoping to escape the dinner crowd. Things didn’t bode well that when we arrive, we were told our table is not ready, there are no seats for us to wait, and could we please return some twenty minutes later.

To give them credit, they gave me a call on the dot when a table was ready for us. So we settled down for business and made some choices from the somewhat limited menu.

ABC Kitchen @ Sheung Wan

Two out of four choices we made were unavailable. Okay, I know I shouldn’t get mad considering the time we had dinner. But would it kill the waitress to know what is not available and inform us before hand, and not have us ordered (like a fool) only to be told two minutes later that, gotcha, but we don’t have that?

ABC Kitchen @ Sheung Wan

Anyway. I was hungry enough that even this basket of rock hard bread and measly chunk of unsalted butter (errr, why?) were enough to calm me down.

Some twenty minutes later (so it was close to 10 p.m.), our first dish was served.

Salt Cod Cake with Seared Scallops (HK$88)

ABC Kitchen @ Sheung Wan

Personally, I prefer crab cakes as appetisers, but this platter of thick cod cake worked as well. The dried fish has a more potent flavour compared to the crabs variety, and that went well with the seared scallops, which were juicy and succulent. Together, the cod cake was a little bland; perhaps it was oversoaked?

Pan-Fried Foie Gras ($98)

ABC Kitchen @ Sheung Wan

If you are a follower of this blog, you would know I am a novice when it comes to foie gras. For newbies like me, foie gras is simply fattened goose livers, a type of fancy food made popular by the French (methinks). If that sounded like something you won’t want to eat, I don’t blame you. The calorie count is astronomical, but like every thing else cooked to clog up your arteries (cupcakes, for example), eating foie gras is like.. having an orgy in the mouth.

ABC Kitchen @ Sheung Wan

The foie gras at ABC Kitchen was not at the same league as the one I had at Cubix, but still good nonetheless. The butter-like taste, smooth as silk liver… I am no fan of innards at the best of time but for these babies, I surrendered myself completely. And I totally overlooked that chutney; I have no recollection of actually eating it.

Roasted Sucking Pig (HK$128)

ABC Kitchen @ Sheung Wan

The signature dish of ABC Kitchen, highly recommended by most people I know. Just check out what Jason, Rita, Tom and Janice had to say. It was advised that I make reservation for this, which I did.

The dish came out some thirty minutes after the first one, so the timing wasn’t great. Served on a roast of red beets and kipfler potato, the skin was crispy, almost perfect, but the meat? A mediocre fare. Too chewy and rather dried out that even the accompanying gravy couldn’t help.

I really couldn’t understand why most people liked this. At almost $40 per piece (there were only three per portion), this has got to be the most expensive roast pork I have ever eaten in my life. The stall downstairs from my place could do a better job at less than half the price.

Romesco de Peix (HK$148)

ABC Kitchen @ Sheung Wan

Stumped by its name? So was I. Romesco de Peix was merely described as “a Catalan seafood stew” on the menu. The seafood selection – fish, mussels, squids and the like – was fresh and succulent. Coupled with the Romesco (nut) sauce, the flavour was decidedly rich… and complex. To those who are new to Spanish food this might come across as a curry-wannabe. Great if you are adventurous with your food (like I do), not so great if you are stickler with the familiar.

All in all, ABC Kitchen wasn’t what I imagined it would be like. I was rather disappointed with the quality of food served, and it’s definitely not worth the hassle of making a booking, finding the place, waiting for a table… and for that price, you know what? I would rather do a Fat Angelo’s.

ABC Kitchen
Shop 7, Food Market
1 Queen Street , Sheung Wan
9278 8227

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