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“Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are” – Brillat-Savarin

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Sunday Brunch @ The Parlour (Hullett House), Hong Kong

Not long after we arrived back in Hong Kong from the U.S., we went for a Sunday brunch with my aunt-in-law C and her husband. They are long-time residents of HK, and we make an effort to meet up with them regularly. Between C's travelling schedule and ours, that works out to be every few months. I was still shocked to realise that more than a quarter of the year had passed since we saw them last! At C's suggestion, we brunched at The Parlour inside Hullett House, at the location known as 1881 Heritage. I had only seen this area from the outside whenever I walk past (often marvelling at the ever-changing decorations and features), and it was nice to finally have a look around this declared monument.

The wall mural directly opposite my seat at the table:

The bar and its dragons greet diners as they make their way between the dining room and the buffet room:

The walls of the restaurant were beautifully decorated with hand-painted mural scenes of colonial Hong Kong in the early 19th century, and the decor in general - from the replica Qing Dynasty chairs to the black-lacquered bar - effectively conjures up images of the old world HK. It's really quite a gorgeous restaurant to dine at. We were given the Shellfish Champagne Brunch menu, which at HK$598 (for adults, $398 for children) featured an all-you-can-eat salad/appetiser counter, a choice of main course, and all-you-can-eat desserts, as well as free flow champagne, juice and soft drinks. This is probably great value for champagne drinkers, but there should be a cheaper option for those who cannot or wish not to drink alcohol (such as myself and hubby).

The buffet room, with beautifully presented cold and hot dishes, mostly European but also a couple of Chinese dim sum dishes and Japanese salads:

To the left of the above photo, there was the cheese table with bread:

The central table held shellfish goodies like oysters au naturel, mussels, prawns and sea snails:

The service was good, but inconsistent. To be fair, the effort was evident and the attentive waitstaff seemed eager to please, but communication with other waitstaff was lacking, which resulted in some confusion. Due to my son's multiple allergies, the buffet bar was not suitable, so I enquired whether the a-la-carte menu was available. The first waitress said she would get back to me, and a manager-type man came to inform us that only the sandwiches from the a-la-carte manu were available. We made our selection, and called over another waiter to place our order. He apologised and informed us that we couldn't order from the menu because only the buffet brunch was available. We said that we were informed otherwise, and off he went to enquire with the chef. He came back and apologised again for the misinformation, and took our sandwich orders. Then when it came time to order the main course, C requested for the beef cheek tartlet, to which she was told it was not available. At this point, C's hubby was not impressed at all, but the waiter did apologise for not informing us earlier. Thankfully the rest of the meal went by smoothly, and we had such a good time with our company that the hours slipped by us unnoticed.

Hubby's first plate (of many) - pizza, Iberico ham and melons, olives and carpaccio:

My second plate had fritto misto (fried seafood), smoked salmon, seaweed salad, char siu, har gow and tuna tartare:

My third helping, with some oysters au naturel, marinated oysters, barley salad, Thai papaya prawn salad and vegetables:

The buffet dishes were good quality, and replenished regularly. Our plates were cleared away as soon as we were done so that we had room for new plates of food. The sandwiches arrived together with the main courses, and my son really enjoyed the Ham and Cheese Sandwich, but perhaps not as much as the fries that came with it. C's hubby was also satisfied with his BLT Sandwich.

The Ham and Cheese Sandwich, beautifully toasted and delicious. The hearty bread was the star:

Aunt C chose the Seared Beef Striploin as her second choice after being told her first choice of Baked Beef Cheek Tartlet was not available. The striploin was served with red wine jus, sautéed potatoes and roasted cabbage. She said it was really good:

Hubby got the Steamed Australian Sole Fillet with root vegetable crustacean sauce. The sole was cooked just right, and the gravy had a lot of fantastic umami flavours:

My main course was the Mushroom Risotto with cream cheese, spring onion and parmesan. It sounds like a plain dish, but the risotto was bursting with gorgeous earthy flavours from the mushrooms. A must for mushroom fans:

Soon after our main courses arrived, a waiter approached the table and asked if I would like to have a Dragon's Back Cocktail or a Bloody Mary. The blend of vodka, champagne, lychee liqueur and fresh strawberries and dragon fruit in the Dragon's Back sounded too intriguing to pass up, and I admit that I enjoyed the cocktail quite a lot (even though I had to take antihistamines for the next two days).

Dragon's Back Cocktail:

There was a nice-looking selection of desserts by the bar, so be sure to leave room for dessert.

Dessert table:

Pastries, puddings, cakes and cookies:

My favourite dessert was custard cream topped with chocolate balls. I just loved the crunchy texture of the balls contrasting the smoothness of the custard:

It was a pretty good brunch as far as Sunday brunches go. We didn't take much advantage of the free-flow champagne, so it would have been nice to opt out with a subsidised cost to the meal. The service was a little patchy, but good on the whole. And I loved the old world decor.

[Prices quoted above are exclusive of the 10% service charge.]

The Parlour
Hullett House
2A Canton Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel. +85 2 3988 0101

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