Actually, we were trying to find another place called Cafe 9 also related with Jim Thompson that was recommended to us by the concierge, but as we were weaving our way through the streets of Silom, we saw another Jim Thompson and just assumed that it was the cafe that we were looking for. It was only after we had sat down and ordered 10 minutes in, that we asked someone, and realised that we were in the wrong Jim Thompson. In the end, it all worked out for the better because there was actually alot more choices available at the Saladaeng Cafe than at Cafe 9 and the environment also seemed a lot better.
Soft Shell Crab Salad with Herbs – A refreshing salad due to the mix of sweet, sour and spicy. The soft shell crab has a slight crunch and was very tasty. The salad also has the classic Thai combination of lime, green mango, cashews/nuts and shallots among other things. Creamy Panang Curry (crushed peanuts . coconut cream . tofu . mushroom) – I gotta say that overall, this was an unexpected weird yet interesting dish. I can only describe it as a tofu waffle with a mushroom like patty inside? The curry sauce though was very nice and there was a slight spice to it. Khao Phad Gra Prow Goong – A mix of fragrant Jasmine rice with stir-fried prawns, garlic, bird’s eye chilies, holy basil and served with fried egg. The sauce was very tasty and the prawns were a good size as well as being juicy. The egg on anything is good, but my one gripe would be that the egg was not runny enough as it was slightly overcooked. The fried basil though was a nice touch for extra flavours.
There are actually two Hunan Garden’s in Hong Kong. One in Central (Exchange Square) and the other in Causeway Bay (Times Square). The one in Central is decorated in a more Chinese fashion, but perhaps a bit dated. The one in Causeway Bay is newer and looks like a modern high end restaurant. Hunan Garden is normally quite expensive, but if you go to the one in Times Square for lunch from Monday to Saturday, you can get 50% off the a la carte menu (excluding certain items and dim sum). But overall, this deal is still great as there are many tasty dishes that you can still order while applying the 50% discount.
The appetisers of tofu/cucumber and chilli were good and I would recommend eating them together if you aren’t fussy about spiciness.
Hunan Deep-fried Prawns in Chilli Sauce (湖南左宗棠蝦) – The prawns were smaller than I expected, but they were fresh and nice and juicy. The chilli sauce that surrounds it is reasonably spicy but I suggest using only a little in order not to overpower the natural prawn taste. Stewed Tientsin Cabbage with Minced Ham (金華腿茸扒津膽) – The vegetables were nice and refreshing with the other dishes all being spicy. I thought that it was a little bland but this could simply be down to the other dishes being spicy. Fried Chicken with Dried Chilli (小鄉里霸王辣子雞) – Despite the chicken looking dry, it is cooked really well and is extremely succulent and juicy. The chilli’s and peanuts complemented the chicken well, but for all the chilli the dish appears to have, I wouldn’t mind it being even more spicy (but that’s just some minor details).
Fried Chicken with Dried Chilli (小鄉里霸王辣子雞)
Hunan Deep-fried Prawns in Chilli Sauce (湖南左宗棠蝦)
__________ Hunan Garden (洞庭樓) Shop 1302, 13/F, 1 Matheson Street, Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong 2506 9288
This place was recommended by a friend and so we decided to drop by and give it a try for another friend’s birthday. The place was pretty much full when we got there around 6:30pm and so there really wasn’t much choice and we were seated at the very back on the bar table facing the open kitchen. Actually, this was my preferred choice since I love watching chefs cook and in any case, in the end, this was to our benefit as we noticed and got to try the staff special (see below).
They offer two types of menus, the normal paper ones, and then the more technological advanced iPad version. All that is missing now is being able to order straight from the iPad, in which case you can then hire less people.
I was a little disappointed with their beer selection with Anchor Steam being the only choice. California is supposed to have quite a few really good micro-breweries and I would certainly love to try them in Hong Kong. The other thing is that I can get Anchor Steam at Inn Side Out and their related restaurants at a cheaper price so I would not order it here. On the other hand, their wine selection is pretty good and the pricing appears to be quite competitive for a restaurant especially if you order by the bottle.
Gilroy Garlic Fries – The fries were not too garlicky and rather than just being cooked outside the fries, I think that the garlic was actually infused into the potatoes. In any case, it tasted great and you are given a choice of whether to use ketchup or truffle aioli as a dip. California Sliders with Angus Beef Burger and Bravo Farms Cheddar Cheese – The sliders were excellent. The beef was cooked medium and extremely juicy when you bite into them. The buns were hot toasted and crispy and slowly soaked up the juices from the beef and the caramelized onions. My one gripe is that for two sliders, it was pretty expensive considering the two sliders put together did not make a normal sized burger. California Tacos with Baja Fish – This is Baja fish batter-fried, served on a soft corn tortilla topped with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo (aka salsa fresca) and cumin-enriched sour cream. This is not your standard taco as you can hardly use your hands to lift it up. The only way to eat it is to cut using your knife and fork watching as it slowly falls apart before piecing it back together again on your fork. Still, the fish was nicely cooked with its slight batter crunch and matched with the tortilla, cabbage, salsa and sour cream. California Tacos with Carnitas and Salsa Roja – Essentially shredded pork shoulder served on a corn tortilla with house made salsa and Guaillo chilies. Unfortunately the pork shoulder seemed a bit dry and tough. The chilies added a bit of spice, but I don’t mind if there was more whereas the tortilla and house made salsa was nice. Again, its not really your standard tortilla and definitely required a knife and fork to eat. The Staff Special (Grilled Pork with Fried Rice [off the menu]) – We had finished our meal and were just sitting around, sipping our second bottle of wine, when the staff took turns coming by the bar table to have their own dinner. The chef cooked up what was essentially grilled pork and fried rice but it smelt amazing. It was our friend’s birthday and after being deflected through a few different channels, the chef did finally cook up the special for us. The pork was tender and juicy with a nice char-grilled flavour. The fried rice was cooked with eggs and chives and a mystery sauce. Very simple, yet very tasty as well.
I enjoyed myself at this restaurant. The food was great, but perhaps a bit expensive for the portion size. The wine on the other hand is a good deal and I would love to try a few others. The next time I eat here, I would continue to sit at the bar table despite not being able to face each other, as the tables in the main area does seem a bit small and cramped. The only thing that stops me from putting this restaurant in the highly recommended category is perhaps the price.
California Tacos with Baja Fish
California Sliders with Angus Beef Burger and Bravo Farms Cheddar Cheese
The Staff Special – Grilled Pork with Fried Rice (off the menu)
__________ California Vintage G/F, 77 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong 2525 9808
I would recommend making a reservation for this place. We called ahead and tried to make a reservation ourselves, but they said that the reservations were full for that night. They suggested we just walkup instead since they have some seats just for those who walkup. We got there quite early around 6:15pm but the tables inside were already full and we had to wait a bit. Luckily, there wasn’t too many others waiting and it took only about 10 minutes to get a table. By the time we left though, there was a lot more people gathered outside waiting for a table!
Wild Vegetable and Diced Bean Curd in Sauce (馬蘭頭百葉卷) – The rolls were smaller than I expected but tasted nice with vinegar. The vegetables have a grassy earthy taste which I like, but may not be for everyone. This dish was the only one that I felt was a bit overpriced though. Chinese Yellow Wine Marinated Chicken (醉雞) – Normally I’m not a big fan of this dish, but this was done pretty well. The alcohol did not over power the chicken flavour and the chicken was not too fatty. Signature Noodle Soup with Minced Pork in Spicy Sesame Sauce (招牌擔擔麵) – I like my Dan Dan Noodles, but this was not the kind I enjoy. ‘Proper’ Dan Dan Noodles in my opinion, has very little soup and ought to be spicy. This was completely the opposite with way too much broth and not enough spice. Go to Yu in CWB for excellent Dan Dan Noodles!! (Note: I do realise that this is a Shanghainese restaurant and not a Sichuan one… but still…) Fried Diced Chicken with Cashew Nuts & Chili (官保雞丁) – The chicken was soft and juicy and tasted excellent. There was also a suprinsingly good amount of cashews given. The only thing I can add is that it needs to be more spicy though. Not enough chilis for a dish of this kind! Steamed Minced Pork Dumpling (鲜肉小龍包) – The skin was not too thick and the soup and meat were nice and hot as you bit into it. Very nice! Steamed Vegetable Dumpling (花素蒸餃) – Generally, I love the vegetable dumplings alot and would order them in any restaurant that I see them in. While the ones served here were not the best I’ve tried, they were still very good and worth a try. Great with lots of vinegar! Pan-dried Minced Pork Bun (鲜肉生煎饅頭) – The bun was crunchy, yet the meat inside was still nice and juicy. The bun itself was also sweetish and went well with the seasame that covered it.
Personally, I thought the dim sum dishes were great. The other dishes needed a little extra such as not being spicy enough. The Dan Dan Noodles especially errked me (is there such a word)? But apparently, as I check on Openrice… this is the way Hong Konger’s like it done (soup, peanuts, not too spicy), sigh… But overall, the price is reasonable and worth visiting so long as I pick and choose what to order. I can easily recommend this over Din Tai Fung (the ones in Hong Kong that is…)
This Southern Thai restaurant was highly recommended by a friend who took us there. No where around the restaurant or the name card did it mention its English name, but I’ve translated it to be Khua Kling + Pak Sod which I think is the name of two Thai dishes. Hidden in a small street, the outside of the restaurant is very unassuming and if I just drove by (and not knowing Thai), I would not have known that it was a restaurant. Inside, the restaurant is like a relaxing family style restaurant, simple yet cozy. While for most dishes, presentation is not the main focus, for sure the taste of the foods are, and they are excellent!
Pork Leg with Tofu and Eggs – A simple dish yet very flavourful. The pork was cooked very tender and the hard boiled eggs went well with the sauce. The tofu was the fried kind and tasted great as it soaked up much of the sauce. Fried Basil (Ka-Prow) with Chicken – Another simple dish, but I love my spices, and the fried basil was cooked really nicely with the chicken. Thai Style Omelet – This looks exactly like the corned beef and eggs I’ve eaten at Hong Kong bing sut’s, but instead of corned beef, this one uses minced pork. Again, very simple, very tasty. Yum! Southern Green Curry and Chili with Beef – Most Thai green curries I’ve tried tended to be watery. This Southern Green Curry had a thick sauce for a change and was nice. There was good spice to the curry and the beef was soft and tender. Perfect to mix with rice. Fried Fish with Turmeric Flavor – Very appetising when you first look at it, and it reminded me of a fried fish that I ate in Jakarta which was excellent. While the fish was nicely cooked and not oily, unfortunately, I felt that the flavours were slightly lacking. Deep Fried Prawn with Tamarind Sauce – This was easily the best dish of the night and highly recommended. The prawns were fresh and succulent and the sauce was slightly sweet but went really well with the prawns. The fried garlic chips also added some nice crunch and flavours to the prawns. Khua Kling with Soft Bone – I said that I liked spicy foods and so this dish was ordered. What can I say? Slow burn… and once it gets started, it doesn’t stop! Don’t get me wrong, this dish was wonderful and the name of the dish is in the name of the restaurant afterall!! The burning sensation though, is totally different from Sichuan spice and perhaps suprised me a bit. Very spicy but good!
This restaurant is truly a great place to eat. Though there is English on the menu, it seemed like everyone else in the restaurant was Thai, and that’s just the way I like it. The best foods are usually where the locals eat and therefore this is the kind of place I love to visit.
Deep Fried Prawn with Tamarind Sauce
Fried Basil (Ka-Prow) with Chicken
Khua Kling with Soft Bone (if you like spicy)
__________ Khua Kling + Pak Sod (คั่วกลิ้ง + ผักสด) 98/1, Thong Lor Soi 5, Bangkok, Thailand (near-ish Thong Lor BTS) +66 02 785 3977