Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some of Hong Kong's most overrated restaurants

Each have their merits, and it doesn't mean these restaurants are bad, but I think their "names precede the truth" (名過於實 | Cantonese: ming gwo yu sut | Mandarin: ming guo yu shi) as we say in Chinese...

Hutong (and Aqua) - all about the view. Hutong's lamb ribs I love, but everything else, um, I don't have polite things to say about...
Xi Yan - there are better private kitchens
Luk Yu - more about the atmos than the food. There's better old school dim sum at Lin Heung
Mak's (Wellington Street) - Ho Hung Kee is just as good (+ many others) for wonton meen
Sang Kee congee - congee is thin, watery and overcooked nowadays (used to be better)
Tonkichi - the waiting list/line is a bit ridiculous for an inconsistent product
Lung King Heen - it's up there with the best, but it's not the holy grail of Cantonese food, so stop saying it is
Ovologue - gwailo (ie. foreigner - equivalent to gaijin in Japan and farang in Thailand) posing to be innovative and 'authentic', whatever that means (and however that matters) - gold leaves and abalone in teeny weeny portions on fancy schmacy crockery with sauces that don't taste or don't match, and sometimes cold (when it's not supposed to be) - it's just not good food

Bo Innovation is also one of the most talked-about places in Hong Kong - especially since it gained its two Michelin-star status, but I haven't tried it yet, so watch this space... [edit: I have now - see here]

These are just some quick notes off the top of my head (and to get off my chest). What have your experiences been like? Any to add/subtract? Bring it on. I'm geared up for hate mail. (Though I should reiterate that each of these restaurants have their merits and obviously exist for a/some reason(s) - some more understandable than others... and that these are of course, my personal, humble opinion.)


  1. Haha! I've heard of most of these from my intense HK restaurant research last year. I went to Mak's and although I liked my wontons, I couldn't help thinking there were better ones out there. And my dim sum lunch at Lung King Heen (just before its THREE Michelin stars), well it was all very pretty, but a bit underwhelming. I'll ask you for tips next time!

  2. Hey Sang kee's porridge is good. You have to request "geet dai" (thick base) other wise you'll be disappointed. Try that and let me know what you think.

  3. Thanks Helen & Jonathan.

    Helen - Mak's is fine, but as you say, there are better (or at least equally good) ones out there.

    Jonathan - thanks for the tip, I'll definitely try it out! But I thought congee was supposed to be "geet dai" by default - not super thick, but at least a mango juice consistency with slightly discernible grains of rice. Sang Kee's congee used to be a little more "geet" and "meen" (as in 'cotton') than what they serve now, which makes me think they're skimping and therefore disappointing...

    By the way, Ho Hung Kee, which was mentioned in the post does wontons and congee well!

  4. Totally agree with the above list. I do like Xi Yan personally - it's at least consistent and a place we bring visitors to as it is a convenient choice really.

  5. Agree with your list and want to add a few more.

    Maxims Catering Hall in Star Ferry Pier -- absolute garbadge and have to wait for hours

    Harlans - Over-rated Fine Dining Cuisine

    Perhaps Yung Kee?

    Bo Innovation - A Definite Yes

    Watermark - Ambiance beats the food by a country mile

    Enough said on the over-rated restaurants!

    Happy Eating!

  6. clawang3:44 am

    more on overrated restos:

    definitely yung kee, the goose is now HORRIBLE. waste of stomach space and $$.

    luk yu - delicious for it's dishes, not so much for dimsum (even though my grandparents still go every day, to this day). The "tse guu jook" (congee), friend beef slices, preserved fish chicken egg white tofu fried rice (炒底) is to die for.

    bo innovation - not worth it. also super slow service!

    which sang kee are you talking about? the sang kee seafood in wanchai? or the sangkee congee and noodle chain? you must try the "lai mang" congee in the sangkee in wanchai - deeelish!

    oh and i have major beef with lei garden. HORRIBLE chinese food, horrible service, and the servers try to trick you into ordering a thing of soup that costs $988!!!!!! I am never going back to that place again!


  7. clawang - thanks for the additions. I definitely mean Sang Kee the congee store (original in Sheung Wan, branches elsewhere), not Sang Kee in Wan Chai which is one of my favourites. I must try your recs for Luk Yu, because I've only ever been for dim sum and sweet and sour pork - "goo low yuk" which they seem to be famous for but I didn't find so amazing.

    Yung Kee - yes I think I have to agree with you and Geoff and as a long time resident of Sham Tseng, I have a lot of goose, and the old Chan Kee is much better in my mind. Apparently 4/F Yung Kee is good though, but you have to be VVIP???

    And Lei Garden - I totally get what you mean, and it's annoying that everything they do well must now be pre-ordered, but I have to say, when I have pre-ordered or had their signatures, it's usually pretty good... Very very pricey though. I'd rather go to T'ang/Ming Court :P

  8. Bo Innovation is definitely over priced. Or may be it is because I don't know how to appreciate the dishes served.

  9. Thanks for the input Vinko, I'm hoping to go to Bo soon - just so I can see for myself. It's prob HK's most controversial restaurant!

  10. Anonymous10:14 am

    i agree with the list as well

  11. I agree with your list
    Xi Yan is more of a casual restaurant than "private kitchen". And BO innovation was a waste of money - i guess it's innovative on your first go, but i wouldn't pay another 4000$ for two! if u want to try , they have lunch sets for $180 though