Thursday, September 17, 2015

Quick Meal in Central

Last week I had the opportunity of having lunch at Lai Bun Fu, one of the new-ish boutique Chinese restaurants in Central. The restaurant is located on "On Lan Street" just a block away from Lan Kwai Fong, sharing the same building as a few fine new western restaurants.

The main dining area is cozy with 10 or so tables and features a classic-looking decor - felt more like sitting in a large mansion or a private club rather than a restaurant. Head Chef Chung once worked as the executive chef at the residence of government's Chief Executive, serving the "First Family" as well as preparing meals for guests and dignitaries in official functions.

While the a la carte menu featured a number of traditional delicacies such as Bird's Nest, Abalone or Sea Cucumber, most of the dishes were geared towards home-style Cantonese cuisine. We began with a pair of appetizers served in individual-sized portion - the "shrimp toast" was served in a modified version, with foie gras sandwiched between a piece of bread and the whole shrimp and then deep-fried. I personally preferred the more traditional version of using a shrimp paste but this one has a richer flavor from the duck liver. The execution of the Stir-fried "Vegetarian Sharks' Fin" was solid - thin shreds of konnyaku - the vegetarian sharks' fin - were mixed with bean sprouts and light, fluffy scrambled eggs in the wok and served in a small glass bowl. It's simple yet delicious.

The Assorted Seafood Soup with Papaya has a lovely presentation with the whole fruit hollowed and filled with a broth cooked with scallops, shrimps and crabmeat, with a hint of the sweetness from the ripe papaya. My favorite dish of the afternoon was their signature Crispy Chicken served with 5 different condiments by the side. The meat was juicy and flavorful - I felt like no additional sauces were needed but a drop of lemon sauce and a light sprinkle of matcha salt - two of the five condiments served - do enhance the flavor.

The bowl of roast duck noodles in soup was comforting with the rich and tasty broth. Our dessert was the traditional Cantonese sweet soup - made with walnut and lily bulb - and served with glutinous rice dumplings. I wasn't a fan of the lily bulb but the rest was fine.

There are no lack of upscale Chinese restaurants in the area but I think among them, Lai Bun Fu was comfortable and down-to-earth. Not a bad choice for a casual lunch in the business district, I reckon.

(The meal was organized by the PR company representing the restaurant and paid for)

When? September 10 2015
Where? Lai Bun Fu, Fifth Floor, 18 On Lan Street, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Crispy Chicken with Five Condiments

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