Friday, August 17, 2007

Sky Cuisine

Hu Tong
28th Floor
One Peking Street
Tsim Sha Tsui
Kowloon, Hong Kong

N and I took a day trip down to HK during the week we were in Shenzhen to explore the former British colony’s most happening dinning concepts and places. I was told that the Aqua Group had some pretty decent new ideas in the last two years and friends who have visited their interesting concepts have came back raving about the food and theme. So for the trip to be worthwhile, wbooked two of their restaurants for lunch and dinner.

Lunch was done at Hu Tong, a restaurant modified after the interior decors of the hall of a Qing dynasty noble house. Perch on the penthouse unit of One Peking Street, the restaurant offers a 360°c breath taking view of Kowloon on one side and overlooking the entire Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island on the other. Of course it would make more sense to sit on the side facing the harbour and the entire skyscraper skyline that signifies HK’s prosperity.
Hu Tong’s dishes are dedicated to show case the regional cuisines of China. Besides the major cuisines, rural ethnic flavours from Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet are also featured.

The beverage menu has creative hot and cold concoctions that feature combinations of elements of spices with fruit and floral infusions and eye catching cocktails. N and I took a different set of infusion each. Her concoction was a rose infusion with flavours of lychee and a cinnamon stick that also doubled up as a stirrer. I settled for a more South East Asian flavor of lime, ginger and lemon grass. My concoction was rather soothing and Mum like it so much that she decided to have one herself too. We started with a radish roll that was stuffed with a whole lump of crab meat from the pincers. The entire roll was livened up with a dash of fiery piquant chili oil that was itself counter balanced with the sweetness of radish and crabmeat. A great compliment with each other in taste but I have appreciated it more if the chef had been more generous with the crabmeat. On a hot day, this was a refreshing appetizer the not also taste good but also quenches the palate.
Another thirst quencher appetizer was the Chilled Scallops with Pomelo Pulp. Lightly poached chilled scallops form the perimeter of a mound of handpicked pomelo pulp that had been meticulously separated into individual sacs. Emphasizing on natural tastes, the sweet creamy scallops were contrasted with little sacs of pomelo pulp that burst on the palate releasing little droplets of tangy citrus juices that embraced the delicate sweetness of the shellfish with natural affinity. Simple but sophisticated.
The aromas of a Shandong flavoured pork rib arrived before the actual master piece where we picked up whiffs of cumin and fennel. The ribs that have been slow roasted were coated with a dry rub of whole spices that shared their individual characteristic aromas in friendly harmony as to bring out the best of each piece of meaty rib. The ribs were well marbled with the right amount of fat in between and were cooked to enough tenderness that enable the meat to slide off the bone easily and each fragrant morsel reminded me of satay that we have back at home.
Given the issue of salted egg yolks being ban periodically recently in Singapore, we took the opportunity to savour it with some fresh king prawns, The serving was pretty generous and the sauce was no doubt rich with the combination of yolk and margarine. It coated the large and plump looking prawn very well, but the prawn itself was a let down on being too overcooked. Hence they were more chewy than crunchy. If it was any consolation, at least the prawns were not subjected to the typical Chinese restaurant’s treatment of running the de-shelled prawns under running water to artificially make them crunchier without any nutritional value.
One of Hong Kong’s most famous methods of cooking is to have seafood or meat cooked Pik Fong Tong (wind shelter) Style which is a mixture of crispy garlic, bean crumbs and dried chilies sprinkled over sautéed or deep fried seafood. This dish was created by a master chef in one of the kitchens of the famous Aberdeen floating restaurants that happened to be situated in a coastal shelter for Hong Kongs boat dwellers whenever a typhoon alert was raised. Hence it was adeptly named Pik Fong Tong. This was also how our fish dish was served. An entire garoupa had been filleted and reconstituted back to shape after cooking, sprinkled on generously with the above mentioned crispy topping. If u like Singapore style cereal prawns, u will take to this dish as a merit of Cantonese cooking.
To round off the meal, we asked for a basket of steamed twirled mantous (buns) specked with Jinhua Ham and spring onions. The fluffy buns is the best representation of the dough eating culture of Chinese cuisine in a steamed way.
Dessert was huge platter decked with toasted coconut shavings, coconut ice cream and compote of chilled snow pears and white fungus. Given the unusual combination, I found it easier to have just the ice cream with the toasted coconut flakes to avoid a taste confusion on the palate before moving on to the chilled pears and white fungus.
Prices here are slightly above average of any other typical Chinese restaurant but u get to enjoy your food in the same ambiences and our rich forefathers did. Just look at the pictures including the restrooms!!

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