Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Nothing More Than Ordinary

We thought we should give Celebrity Cuisine a try after seeing their 10th Anniversary menu offered at a special price with a few of their signature dishes. Despite the Michelin stars (they only dropped from two-star to one last year), somehow the restaurant was never on my list as somewhere I was too eager to check out, perhaps due to my (mis)conception that the place is more about expensive ingredients than solid cooking and execution. Anyway, we were about to find out over the dinner here one night a few weeks back.

The restaurant is located inside the confusingly-named Lan Kwai Fong Hotel - a good 10-minute walk from the real Lan Kwai Fong. The dining area was tiny with an awkward L-shaped room and only a handful of tables, but I assumed there were private rooms somewhere as well. The décor of the restaurant definitely showed its age - looked like a major revamp was long overdue.

This special menu was listed with 7 courses, a rather odd arrangement as the number was considered inauspicious in local culture, and something any experienced restauranteur should have known better to avoid. But we did begin with an extra course not on the menu, with pieces of pan-fried turnip cake served as "amuse-bouche", which went well with the dish of XO sauce served as condiments. Next up was the traditional almond and pig's lung soup. It was rather mild in flavor (especially compared to Luk Yu or HKUAA Restaurant just a few blocks away), but I like the texture of the piece of pig's lung served inside the bowl of soup.

We were a bit confused when the sautéed pork tripe with bell peppers - "where's the tripe?" we looked at each other and asked. Turned out it's just buried somewhere underneath the onions and bell peppers. While the plating may not cut it, and despite the tiny portion, the dish actually tasted fine.

A couple of seafood were then served. I like the steamed giant grouper, cooked just right with the delicate skin, served with a splash of sweet soy sauce and pickled vegetables. The half-lobster was pretty small in size, but well sautéed in superior broth and was tasty.

The roast pigeon was one of the better dishes of the evening. I wish the bird was a bit fattier, but the skin was crisp and meat well brined and marinated. It was finger-licking good, but again, I have had better elsewhere (far from the one I had at Stellar House a couple of months back). Our last savory course of their signature fried rice with crabmeat was actually my favorite - cooked with perfect taste and texture. That showed what the kitchen team was capable of delivering, if only they put more hearts into the other dishes they brought to our table that night. Then it was the dessert (sweet potato soup) and a fruit plate - again both nothing much to write home about.

To be honest I thought the food was nothing more than just ordinary - passable if this is a mom-and-pop place like the ones we often go for regular meals, but definitely far off in all aspects than what I expected of a Cantonese restaurant of such caliber, with an experienced chef at the helm, supposedly. I came in with the expectation the place is probably more about style than substance, but turned out it was lacking both. That was disappointing, but it showed my gut feeling was right in the first place.

More photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72157684564914093

When? August 2 2017
Where? Celebrity Cuisine, 1/F, Lan Kwai Fong Hotel, 3 Kau U Fong, Central
Menu Highlights? Signature Fried Rice with Crabmeat
Champagne Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru (Degorgement Dec 2015)
2014 Weingut Brundlmayer Riesling Kamptaler Terrassen
Web: www.lankwaifonghotel.com.hk/facilities-services/celebrity-cuisine.htm

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