Funky mod-Korean restaurant & bar Jinjuu, headed by TV chef and UK Iron Chef winner, Korean-American Judy Joo, has just reopened in Lan Kwai Fong after a bout of renovations and menu revamp and a happy “price adjustment”. Look forward to set lunch starting from HK$198 for two courses, and new sharing plates for dinner, featuring dishes like short rib kimchi hhotteok with Korean-style pancake, Kong bowl (HK$45) with edamame topped with chilli panko mix, Philly cheese steak & kimchi (HK$85), and whole Korean fried chicken (HK$480 for 3-4 pax). Head Mixologist Edgar Santillan rolls out summer cocktails (HK$120) ranging from fruity Purple Haze, comprising hibiscus-tinted Glendalough gin, yuzu sake, acai liquor, lemon juice, apple, orange sherbet, to The Gentleman, a boozy tipple of Buffalo Trace bourbon, lillet blanc, pedro ximenez & angostura bitters. Happy hour hits between 5 and 8pm.
UG/F, California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong
If you want to get into the breezy holiday mood, head to Limewood at Repulse Bay for a seriously exciting meal where Thai flavours and South American cooking collide deliciously. Tuck into summery dishes like its soft shell crab salad and Pacific lobster salad with ponzu mayo, yellow curry mayo, grapefruit and avocado; barbecued New Zealand lamb rack served with Penang curry, green peppercorns, fragrant herbs and kaffir lime, whole roasted jerked chicken with caramelized pineapple and mango habanero sauce, and its signature Charred Whole Sea Bream. Wash it all down with craft beers, shaken margaritas and “barbeque inspired cocktails”.
The Pulse, Shop 103 & 104 G/F – 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay
Tel: +852 2866 8668
Hutong at One Peking may have been around for quite a while, but this Chinese courtyard house styled restaurant continues to keep Chinese dining fresh and stylish. Just launched is its new Fēng Wèi brunch on weekends which showcases Chinese cuisine in the coolest way possible, washed with the option of free flow Veuve Clicquot Champagne and summer cocktails. Tuck into over 18 traditional dishes given a contemporary twist, such as a rich and aromatic seared foie gras with osmanthus-smoked coddled egg, shrimp, kimchi & mozzarella spring roll, 12-hour braised beef rib with aromatic herbs in lotus leaf and Matcha tea glutinous rice balls filled with sweet potato. Complementing the experience are demonstrations of traditional Chinese arts like fortune-telling by bird (as seen in the night markets of Temple Street), Sichuan face changing, kung-fu tea pouring and Chinese rainbow calligraphy. It may be kind of touristy (good for bringing out-of-town friends) but the food is definitely worth heading back for. HK$428 and additional HK$200 for Champagne and drinks option.
28/F One Peking, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Telephone: (852) 3428 8342
The Peranakan is simply wild. If you think you are going to see another vintage dark wood bureau, or kebaya clad mannequin in this Peranakan restaurant, you’ll be happily wrong — as I was. Located on the second floor of Claymore Connect in Orchard Road, this new restaurant, simply called The Peranakan — is a gorgeous collision of extravagant French boudoir and colourful Nonya aesthetics. It sounds insane, but it works.
There’s always something to look at, and you just don’t want to blink in case you miss something. We love the elaborate water glasses that remind us of the great Nonya houses of old Singapore, the humble kettle from which water is poured, the profusion of flowers (plastic – but pretty), bright Nonya ceramics tableware and tiles, and the gorgeously dainty spoons that we are provided to scoop up tiny amounts of sambal. Small chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and etched, bevelled mirrors cover the walls. Sumptuous is the word. We could sip tea and eat kueh here all day.
Beyond good looks, The Peranakan surprises with its fresh concepts (more later) and its combination of traditional favourites and less-known dishes. This freshness is a much needed boost to Peranakan restaurants as a genre, which have become tired with their predictable menus and stereotypical decor.
The food is generally good at The Peranakan. Executive Chef and owner Raymond Khoo is Straits Chinese himself, and many of his dishes are family recipes from his mother and godma. Most dishes I had that lunch was enjoyable. They were authentic and prices were reasonable.
I really liked the pig trotter pongteh ($19), a stew which is usually done using chicken. Slowly cooked in a base of soy sauce and tau cheo, the meat is rendered savoury sweet, rather tender and what made this particularly delectable was the chewy, slightly gelatinous cartilage from the trotter. This is hardly found in Nonya restaurants and quite a treat.
The nasi ulam ($15) was excellent. Chef Raymond adds salted fish to it — again very unusual in nasi ulam — with a little sambal ulam and heightened by aromatic herbs of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and turmeric leaves. While the Malay version is completely vegetarian, the addition of salted fish, Chef tells us, is a Peranakan practice. The whole combination was complex and fragrant, with rice cooked just right — fluffy and grainy. Apparently it is the only Peranakan restaurant in town that serves nasi ulam this way.
The bakwan kepiting soup ($9) was admirable; while I found the stock rather bland, the meatballs were big and generous in the amount of crab meat and bamboo shoot. They were nicely done too – tender and bouncy. But most people preferred itek tim ($7), or duck and salted vegetable soup, which had heartier flavours. But as a homecook, I opted for the soup that called for more arduous preparation and skill. I spied deep fried bakwan kepiting on the appetiser menu and made a mental note to come back and try it.
The chicken buah keluak ($19), a must-have standard at all Peranakan restaurants, was very nicely done; the black nuts were respectably large specimens nicely filled, and the chicken well cooked through with the flavour of the stew.
The sambal udang gala ($27), huge prawns cooked in rich, savoury sweet sambal sauce would have been excellent too, but parts of it were very much undercooked and I had to put it aside. Look out for the sum chun satay ($19), pork belly fried in a special spiced rempah – fragrant, savoury, light and altogether delicious. It was served on a plate rather than skewered and is yet another little-seen dish that’s a must-try here.
While I enjoyed most of the dishes at The Peranakan, a few missed the mark, I feel. The liver ngoh hiang ($15) was a victim of its own generosity — it was a large roll of meaty filling, which had too much meat in relation to its beancurd skin; the balance was not quite there. I didn’t taste much liver in there, either. The kueh pie tee was not crisp, the filling a little scant and the strips of bangkwang did not live up to the Peranakan’s reputation for fine knife work, and the chap chye was not as flavourful as it could have been and the vegetables came in great pieces. Slicing them smaller would have made a bit more elegant eating, I would imagine.
I didn’t manage to try the desserts; but they looked promising – bubor cha cha with durian ($5), pulot enti with durian (glutinous rice with durian paste -$5), bubor hitam with mata kuching, coconut ($3.50) and durian ($5). Clearly the chef loves using durian for his sweets. For drinks, have the kumquat with biji selasih which was particularly refreshing.
The restaurant offers a number of fresh concepts too – like the tok panjang, a lavish communal menu of multiple dishes served on rattan baskets around a mound of ulam rice. The tok panjang at this restaurant plays on the Peranakan festive feast traditionally laid out on a long table like a buffet. While this presentation is not going to win over many purists, it is a good meal to invite a foreign friend to. Diners also go home with a certificate for having had this experience. A little kitschy, but cute. Pick from a $45 or a $65 menu.
Then there’s what Chef Raymond calls the Chef’s Table, like an omakase, where he decides the menu (from $165, 7 days advance reservation required) and comes with wine pairing. On the other hand, the 6-course degustation ($85 per person) is individually plated and best suited for a more formal style of dining. This is for a minimum of 6 people, and one day’s advance reservation is needed.
Finally, the excellent service staff here made the experience at The Peranakan heartwarming. The staff here, who had worked with Chef Raymond before, are mainly of an older vintage. They are warm, sincere, gentle and gracious — almost parental in their demeanour. They exude an old world charm and you feel very well taken care of. They make a big difference to this restaurant and makes it stand out.
It’s definitely a place I would go back to.
Level 2, #02-01
Claymore Connect@Orchard Hotel
Tel: 6262 4428