Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Rich and the Famous

No, I am not talking about the celebrities blitzing around Beverly Hills in their Rolls-Royce Phantoms or the royal brats vacationing in Monte Carlo. I am talking about a certain goose that is probably just as quintessentially-Hong Kong as the city’s skyline and it’s Victoria Peak.

Ask any local or regular Hong Kong vacationer and they would know that the place-to-be for roast goose is Yung Kee. Acting as Matt’s tour guide for his first trip to the city, I decided to start-off our Saturday night at this Hong Kong institution. We have made plans with a friend to go clubbing in the area anyway, so after taking the Star Ferry from Kowloon (part of the “tour”), getting off at Admiralty, and then taking the cab to Queen’s Road (where we started our trek upwards to Wellington Street), we walked into a jam-packed Yung Kee at around 9PM.

This huge restaurant has four floors, and if what the Michelin Guide says is true, the higher up you are, the better the food. I have eaten in both the ground and 3rd floors, and honestly, I could not tell the difference. So far, all my meals at Yung Kee have been pleasantly memorable.

We were sent up to the 2nd floor wherein the lobby was converted to be the designated receiving area for the restaurant. Soon after, we were given a number by the receptionist and we patiently waited our turn despite our rumbling stomachs. After a 20 minute wait, our number came up and we were given a nice corner table downstairs. I liked that it was far from the center of the busy dining room to avoid being bumped in the head by a frazzled waiter.

I quickly ordered the dishes that I wanted and sipped hot tea as we waited. First to come out was a starter of Preserved Eggs and Pickled Ginger. Even as a child, I have always been fond of this strange-looking delicacy. I like how Yung Kee’s version is gooey in the middle with the century egg’s trademark umami lingering long after I have consumed my share. A friend’s recommendation is to have it with the pickled ginger, which was at the same time sharply acidic and candy-sweet. Matt begged-off a second round, so I immediately order another one for myself.

Next to arrive was our “Consuelo de bobo” order of fresh seasonal vegetables (I forget what it’s called) to accompany our main dish, as well as two cups of steamed rice. It was very simply sautéed in garlic and oil allowing the fresh vegetal quality to shine through. It took a while for our entrée to come out, so we had to send the rice (which has gone cold) back to be replaced by steaming-hot ones.

Finally, the goose is served. We ordered half which- as the chuckling server said- should be enough for the two of us. After giving ourselves a moment to admire the bird’s glistening skin and its dark meat which promises to be gamey and flavorful, we attack our goose with the fervor of blood-hungry predators. The roast goose, to be honest, was not as I remembered it (lean but juicy, robust and rich). I found it to be too cold and a bit too tough. I understand that the slightly-gristly meat is typical of this game bird, but it was much tougher this time. Matt, too, was a tad underwhelmed, but still proclaimed it to be a really good meal. Besides, we were freaking hungry, so we gobbled it all up, anyway.

After a pause to recover from our sinful dinner, we tackle the treacherous (for me, at least, in my four-inch-heeled “hooker” boots) hike up D’Aguilar St. to get to another Hong Kong landmark- Lan Kwai Fong. This legendary hot spot in the center of Hong Kong’s business district is famous for its string of bars, restaurants and clubs wherein the parties last until the early hours of the morning. On weekends, the party spills out into the streets and, that portion of D’Aguilar leading up to LKF, is closed to traffic. Matt, known for his unsatiable appetite for the night life, has been looking forward to this part of the trip the most.

We decided to wait for our friend, Wolfgang, at LUX, where we had a few drinks at the bar. Upon his arrival, we have a celebratory shot of Patron tequila to kick off a night of partying.

We continue on up the street to Wyndham Road (At this point Matt is already semi-dragging me. Damn boots.), taking the elevator up Hotel LKF to the roof deck bar called Azure. The mostly expat crowd sipped their single malts and martinis in dark, deep couches while looking out onto the now-quiet city. After a drink, Wolfgang said we had to move on.

He then took us next door to Dragon-I (which, aside from being the hottest club in HK, also serves a mean dimsum brunch, I heard), where he thoughtfully reserved a table for us and had to get to it by 11:30PM. When we arrived, the party was just starting, the lounges and the long bar slowly filling up with the city’s beautiful party people. We were required to purchase a bottle in order to reserve the table, and so the three of us shared a bottle of Belvedere vodka with complimentary cans of Red Bull. The events that happened beyond this point are quite blurry to me, and I believe it is best that they stay that way.

I love Hong Kong. And now, Matt does, too.

Yung Kee
Wellington St.
Central, Hong Kong
Tel. no. (852)25221624

29/F Hotel LKF
Wyndham St.
Central, Hong Kong
Tel. no. (852)35189330

Upper Ground, The Centrium
Wyndham St.
Central, Hong Kong
Tel. no. (852)31101222


Noel said...

Next to arrive was our “Consuelo de bobo” order of fresh seasonal vegetables (I forget what it’s called) to accompany our main dish...

Hi, Chinkee.

It's called "dao miu" or "dou miao", in season the time you were there.

Too bad about your goose. Yes, that's happened to me once or twice, but it was still ok. Re the higher floors, I have to say that in the 4th floor, the food is the best in my experience.



Chinkee said...

Thanks Noel! Grabe, how do you know these things??? You just retain everything, don't you? Lucky guy. The waiter actually gave us the english name, but even that I forget. Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol...

Miguel said...

Gotta get myself to Yung Kee soon!!!

Chinkee said...

Yeah, go, Mig!:-) But try to get a table on the higher floors because the goose we got on the first floor was medyo disappointing... Next time nga I'll check out the top floor and see if the food really is better.

Marga said...

Yung Kee is a standard stop for my family when we're in HK. But to be honest, we don't go there for the goose! (I personally go for the breaded scallop and the fried rice that seems to have just about as much shrimp as it does grains of rice) I'm not a big fan of the sauce that comes with the goose at Yung Kee. I prefer goose or duck to be served in its own drippings. So in HK, goose for me is still Guangdong in the Kowloon area. Of course, it's the typical HK-style carinderia setting. But I also think that it's a more authentic local food haunt than Yung Kee. =)

Chinkee said...

Hi Marga! You know what, you're right about the goose in those "carinderia-style" restos in HK. They actually seem to be much better nga. We used to frequent Happy Garden in Canton Road before it closed, so now we go to Hing Fat in Ashley. Very very good lechon kawali-style pork and roast goose! Just thought Matt should try Yung Kee since its a food destination in HK and so at least he can say he's tried it. Next time, Hing Fat nalang. Hehe.

Thanks for dropping by my blog:-)