Saturday, January 7, 2023

Dinner At An Old Pawn Shop

The historical site of Woo Cheong Pawn Shop on Wanchai's Johnston Road has gone through iterations of changes, with the western, contemporary restaurant The Pawn made way to the modern Chinese Woo Cheong Tea House in late 2021. 

I often took this kind of restaurants (modern Chinese with fancy decor in the tourist area) with a grain of salt not knowing if they are trading style over substance but I was pleasantly surprised after the dinner tasting a few weeks ago. They offered us the tasting menu with 6 different courses, beginning with the appetizer duo and ending with the dessert.

Have heard great things about their char siu, which was part of our appetizer course, and I certainly understood why after just having a bite. The texture was just perfect, tender and juicy with the sightly charred crust and a brush of honey glaze for that hint of sweet flavor. The other appetizer (served on the same platter plate) was the red jellyfish and cucumber pickles with a tangy vinegar dressing and a nice crunchy texture. Plenty of ingredients went into the bowl of double-boiled soup with fish maw, chicken yam, goji berries and dark "silkie" chicken known for its richer taste. The soup base could be a bit more intense but it's nonetheless delicious and hearty. 

I was expecting the grouper fillet with hot and sour soup like the Sichuan "Suan Cai Yu" but turned out the sauce base was more sour than hot like the taste of sweet and sour soup with pickled ginger. Nonetheless, I like the salivating taste going with the piece of fish fillet cooked just right. The pigeon was done two ways - with the pigeon breast stuffed with chestnuts and sauteed with sweet peppers and young ginger, with the leg battered and deep-fried. Like sweet and sour pork but done with pigeon instead with nice balance of acidity. 

Our next and last savory course was the tossed egg noodles with abalone. The piece of South African abalones came in generous size and slow-cooked to the nice bouncy texture, and I like the sauce with ginger and spring onions and topped with tiny shrimp roes. We finished with the dessert with two kinds of sweet dim sum items including the steamed red date pudding cake and black sesame rolls. I like the nostalgic taste for both. 

The restaurant dining room was segregated into bar and eat-in areas plus the balcony overlooking the street. So naturally they do have a well-stocked bar and a long drink menu. Of course with the restaurant owner being well regarded in the wine business I expected nothing less. But this time I went with some cocktails, with the glass of Pu'erh Fashioned #2 being the highlights. The Irish Whiskey, Pu'Erh tea and Maple Syrup combined for the interesting balance of smoky whisky, tart tea and sweet syrup. 

Overall, there's plenty of style and the food was decent - especially the char siu which I would definitely come back to. Or perhaps we should come back during day time for their dimsum dishes and to sit inside the nicely decorated dining room with high ceiling and plenty of sunlight beaming from outside in this historical building. 

When? December 12 2022
Where? Woo Cheong Tea House, 1-2/F 62 Johnston Rd, Wan Chai
Menu Highlights? Woo Cheong Premium Barbecued Pork

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