Raku-En

About

I’m writing this quite a while after going to Raku-en and am not able to remember too much detail about the separate dishes we had. But the quality of the Okinawan food offered here made me want to write at least a short listing to be updated on a second visit.

Hidden away at the top of a tower, this place specialising in Okinawa style Japanese food felt authentic the moment we stepped in. Japanese magazines and other items crowded the front counter, sake bottles lined the walls, and all the tables were already filled by excited groups of young Japanese.  It’s one of several Causeway Bay based hideaways for Hong Kong’s Japanese community.

The menu had a massive range of small plate dishes ranging from about HK$40 to 70. I am fairly new to Okinawan food, so was fairly bewildered a choice of dishes that stretched from stuffed fried chicken wings all the way to snapper carpaccio.

The pork belly in miso had beautifully soft pieces of meat which melted in your mouth, their small layers of fat adding a richer buttery hint to the taste. Each spongy piece has soaked up the sauces stronger flavours and let these drift sumptuously out as you chewed.

Fried chicken sunk into a pile of crumbled bread and garlic and chilli also tasted great. Each crisp piece of chicken would gather up so of this pile to add to the crisp flavour of the skin. Both this, and the skewers, were ‘snack style’ dishes prepared excellently and with extra elements.

The stuffed chicken wings were another example of this. With the bones taken from the middle of the meat, little fleshy white pockets were filled with a pasty stuffing. This was sealed in a wonderfully crisp skin that was perfectly fried to fill it with taste whilst keeping it from being to charred or oily.

Almost all of the other dishes we had followed a similar trend – full of flavour and with meticulous attention to detail. The cod showcased as well as anywhere I have been in Hong Kong the Japanese ability to prepare fish in a very simple way that brings out all of its flavours.

Overall, Ruku-en is a great place to go to explore Okinawan cuisine and to try a wide range of different dishes. I felt confident that the things I was eating were genuine and that whatever I ordered it would be well prepared and offer something interesting.

Directions

12 F Circle Tower, 28 Tung Lung Street, Causeway Bay

Website

http://www.rakuen.com.hk/

Cost

About $40 to $80 per dish.

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Xiao Nan Guo

Huhng Siu Yuhk and Sichauan Beef - two of the highlights at Xiao Nan Guo

Huhng Siu Yuhk and Sichauan Beef - two of the highlights at Xiao Nan Guo

 

About 

My favorite Shanghai restaurant in HK and a really outstanding opportunity to try some of China’s most interesting and distinctive dished. Good value, good service, and consistently excellent food. Some of the things to try here include:

  • Huhng siu yuhk – Supposedly Chairman Mao’s favourite dish, this is cubes of pork with alternate layers of meat and fat, slow cooked until the meat is so soft that it melts in your mouth. The meat jusice, wine, sugar and anise  together form this beautifully flavoured thick black sauce which coats the meat and the long, fibrous mushrooms. This dish is a must have.
  • The siu luhng baau here are wonderful. These are dumplings with soft meat, or crap in the centre, surrounded by a soup that is held inside the soft wrapper. When you eat bite into them the warm soup pours through your mouth releasing its flavours. The siu lung bao here are the best I’ve had outside of shanghai, with a very flavoursome soup and nice frail wrapper.
  • The crispy sesame bread pockets and minced pork is another Shanghai specialty. It is very tasty here, with the bread nicely crisp on the outside but still softer on the inside. The meat filling is well cooked so that it isn’t too oily. This dish is definitely worth having, but takes second place to those above.
  • The sichuan beef dish here is excellent – using the same long, fibrous mushrooms as the huhng siu yuk which have a texture that goes well with the meat and the slight spice of the chili’s in this dish. It is brought to you in a little black cauldren and left to cook on the table, so that the ingredients slowly soften and blend with the sauce.
  • The begger´s chicken here is also supposed to be really good, though I’m yet to try it myself. This is chicken cooked by packing it around with earth and baking it slowly. When the dish is brought to the table, the earth is broken open and the chicken taken from inside.

DirectionsWalk along Des Voeux road from the mid-level escalators to Central. The restaurant is in a shopping centre on the left hand side that has lots of mirrored metal. An escalator leads up to the first floor, where there is a Starbucks coffee shop. The restaurant is on the third level. There is a Japanese restaurant on the floor below.

Xiao Nan Guo Cuisine Level 3 Man Yee Building, 68 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong Central

Cost

Around HK $150-200 per person

Notes

Closes at 11:30pm Tel: 2258 9393

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Sorabol

 

A

About

This is one of the best Korean restaurants in all of HK. Try their spareribs marinated to perfection and their bul kolgi, which is thinly sliced and served in quite a unique way from the bul kolgi at other Korean bbq. One of the best things on the menu are the hand-made noodles, which you can get with either seafood or thinly sliced beef. All of the Korean pancakes ( e.g. kimchi pancake) are also quite good and worth trying

Directions

This is at 99 Pecival street. See directions for above restaurant to get there. Then go into Lee Theatre Building (a centre with a few restaurants in) and go to 17th floor.

Cost

Around HK $150-200 for the barbeque dishes, and $100 for some of the smaller dishes.

Time and Notes

Closes at midnight. There is also a branch in TST on Nathan Road.