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

Monday, 5 November 2012

Cantonese @ Lei Garden (Elements), Hong Kong

The week after my son's birthday party, I was feeling pretty burnt out. I had been very busy for two weeks preparing for my son's birthday celebrations and my sister's visit to Hong Kong, in addition to my usual teaching commitments and daily duties, and I really didn't want to do much cooking (or anything else) for awhile after. We are rather fortunate to live above a nice mall with plenty of dining choices, and we went to Lei Garden for dinner one day when I didn't feel up to cooking. This particular branch has held its current Michelin one star status since 2009, when the guide published its first Hong Kong edition. We ate at the Lei Garden in IFC a couple of years ago, but it was an unremarkable experience; in fact, I am surprised to discover now that the branch at IFC has also held a Michelin one star status since 2009. Anyway, we wanted to see if the branch at Elements was any better, and it was a good excuse to try something different other than our usual haunts.

The entrance to Lei Garden from the mall:

Large spacious dining hall with a water tank of live fish at the back. One small fish would cost more than our meal:

The set-up is similar to the one at IFC mall. There were a few dining rooms, and the main hall was large and spacious, with an extravagant decor. Like at the other branch, the service we received was only so-so, and we wonder why these two restaurants were awarded a prestigious star. Not all staff spoke English, which explains the mostly Chinese clientele. The menu was not as extensive as the large menu usually offered at Chinese restaurants, and we were disappointed that seafood did not feature prominently (except for the prohibitively expensive items that we weren't interested in, like abalone). The menu didn't even have a page for rice and noodles, which is rather unusual for a Chinese restaurant. When I enquired about ordering fried rice, the waitress said they don't offer fried rice, which surprised me greatly as most Chinese restaurants would take the order regardless of whether fried rice is on the printed menu or not. Thankfully another more knowledgeable (English-speaking) staff was called over to our table, and he answered our questions satisfactorily and took note of allergy requests. Service and menu issues aside, the food we ordered was tasty and good quality, which met one aspect of our expectations of a one star restaurant.

The Char siu (barbecued pork) was delicious with the right amount of char. The pork was succulent and flavourful:

The Siu yuk had a great thin crispy skin and surprisingly not too fatty:

Sautéed Gingko Nuts, Wild Mushroom and Asparagus - a good combination of fresh produe, and the healthiest dish we had that night:

Yung Chow Fried Rice, tasty for an off-the-menu dish:

Honey and Sesame Walnuts, to end the meal on a sweet note:

It was a pleasant enough meal, but nothing outstanding. There are better options for Cantonese food that are not much more expensive than Lei Garden.

Lei Garden (Elements)
Shop 2068-70, 2nd Floor
Elements Mall
1 Austin Road West
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel. +85 2 2196 8133

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