The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 2 December 2011

Good Singaporean/Malaysian @ Katong (Elements), Hong Kong

Running a restaurant business must be tough, as we saw a few restaurants in the mall downstairs close up shop in the past year that we have lived here. On the up-side, it means getting to try out the new restaurants that open up in the place of the not-so-successful ones. When I first walked past Katong a couple of weeks ago and had a quick look at their menu, I was kinda excited to discover that they served Singaporean/Malaysian food - literally in our backyard (figuratively speaking, of course). At the same time I didn't want to set my hopes too high given a rather mediocre experience at another Malaysian restaurant, supposedly where you can find the best South-east Asian food in Hong Kong (according to the HK Time Out Magazine). I'm happy to report that the food at Katong wasn't as disappointing, although it would be even better if the restaurant could consider making their full a-la-carte menu available at lunch time rather than limiting the luncher's choice to the small - but affordably priced - lunch menu.

Katong restaurant, popular for lunch on the weekend:

The decor and the timber louvered "windows" were reminiscent of the Peranakan-style housing found in various parts of Malaysia and Singapore (including Katong, the Singaporean neighbourhood which the restaurant is a namesake of), and it was comfortable enough for a mall restaurant. Service was friendly, and we appreciated the staff's efforts to accommodate our son's allergies, which we know must be a pain especially when soy, nuts, sesame and coconut are used prolifically in this cuisine. The set lunch menu only contained seven choices, which I must admit had initially deterred us from wanting to lunch at Katong, However we decided to stay, and were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food.

Father and son occupying their time with some very simple origami while waiting for the food:

All the lunch sets included barley water or a daily special drink (lime tea), both can be requested hot or iced. We ordered barley water, both hot (in the mug) and iced (in the glass), and iced lime tea. I wonder where the restaurant sourced these cool jar glass. I preferred the barley drink as the iced tea was too sweet for me (hubby was quite happy to take the tea as he doesn't quite see the appeal of barley water). Drinking hot barley water and eating the soft boiled grains at the bottom made me feel nostalgic as I remember having this drink whenever my family ate out during my childhood time in Malaysia:

The boy got the Nasi Goreng with Chicken Soup (HK$78), requesting the satay to be served on the side rather than with the rice, and minus the ingredients he's allergic to. The fried rice was flavourful, the satay was delicious, and I loved the pickled vegetables:

Closer look at the nasi goreng, which contained bits of chicken meat as well as beaten egg in addition to the fried egg on top of the rice mound:

Hubby got the Chicken Rice and Laksa Special with Vegetable of the Day (HK$108), which were quite generous in size, making me wonder just how big the full-size portions are!

The chicken rice part of the set. Hubby thought this was okay, which is normal because he isn't a big fan of Hainanese chicken rice. Hubby and I swapped plates halfway through and I started with the veg. Unfortunately I didn't get past the choy sum because I found something that looked a little like a strand of hair (but it was too coarse and rough to be hair, so it could very well be some stray grass that didn't get washed away). I wanted to make sure it wasn't hair, so I pointed it out to a staff, who immediately apologised, promptly removed the whole tray to the kitchen and said we will not be charged for the dish. I felt sad wasting all that food, especially when both the chicken rice and laksa looked promising:

Close-up of the laksa, which hubby said was yummy, but would have preferred the flat kuey teow instead of the thick rice vermicelli. Unfortunately I didn't get around to tasting it (see above for reason), but I trust my husband's taste as he can be quite picky about laksa:

I got the Grilled Sambal Stingray with Chicken Soup and Rice (HK$98). This was my first time having stingray, which must be a Singaporean dish as I'm not familiar with it. The sambal was delicious - just a touch sweet and mildly spicy (if my mum was here, she'd have requested for extra chili). It was interesting eating the stingray, which had a tender texture like fish, but with cartilage instead of bones. The soup (not shown) was pretty good, with chunks of daikon in it, and rice was good with the sambal stingray:

We were pretty happy with this meal - happy to find a decent place that serves this type of food, and happy that it's so close to home! I'm not terribly fussed about the "hair" incident; besides, the staff handled it very well. We would love to try out their full menu, so we will be back. Hopefully this new restaurant will continue to be a popular choice, if not with the high end shoppers who come to this mall for the brands, then with us humble residential folks who live upstairs.

Shop 2100A
2nd Fl, Elements
1 Austin Road West
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Tel. +85 2 2196 8086


  1. Those glasses are either Ball or Kerr. I had those glasses minus the handle stuffed with candy as favors for my wedding. I saw them for sale at the city super in IFC though not sure if they had handles or not.

    I will be heading over the Elements mall after I get back from NYC for ice-skating. I will be sure to try out one of the restaurants you mentioned.

  2. Thanks for that Kelly. I hope that you'll like the food :)