Monday, March 15, 2010

Market French - ABC Kitchen

French onion soup

I have to thank my lucky stars that I met Eat Love Write's ever so clued in author, who brought me to ABC Kitchen, a French food stand in Sheung Wan's Queen St. Market. Prior to this I'd never even known this market existed, let alone that ex-chefs of M on the Fringe (now temporarily closed while they find a new location) had opened an eatery here.

We came at lunchtime when set lunches as well as a short a la carte menu are offered. I was told that they did M's signature suckling pig here and was keen to try it, alas, I found it on the a la carte menu, but was told it would be a 20-minute wait - something I couldn't usually afford at lunch hour (yes, singular 'hour', though at times I do push it, such as for this tweetup at L'Atelier de Robuchon late last year tee hee).
Oxtail braised in red wine with rice

For starters there was French onion soup and a salad (I think)? The former seemed much more interesting, made of a rich bouillon and with quite a bit of thinly-cut, sweet, near-dissolved onion, but not so much that you feel like you're eating onion cooked in bouillon. The bread is baked in house, and while they don't serve bread baskets at lunchtime, there was a slice of grilled bread atop the soup. Speaking of which, I would have liked to see more cheese on that toast... Overall it tasted fine, though quite clear/light - I'd say it's been Hong Kong-ified, which isn't always a bad thing...

There were a couple of mains to choose from, and being the good blogger that I am, I forgot to note them down, or even take a pic of the menu, so I've forgotten. I chose the braised oxtail, served with linguine or risotto, and I chose the latter. The oxtail itself was soft, though not overly so, and in my opinion could have done with a bit more sinew and fat attached (I think they cleaned what they could before braising, and the tail itself might not have had much sinew...), which would have rendered a richer result. Here, the braising liquid was light, like the soup, which was perfectly fine, if not less satisfying than I'd envisioned. That said, we're not mid-winter anymore, so to their credit, perhaps this is a good spring rendition. It's also served with a couple of shards of grilled pumpkin. The risotto was done nicely al dente, though it wasn't the best at soaking up the sauce. Nonetheless the dish was enjoyable, though not unlike having rice in soup - a not-to-heavy comfort food.

The set also comes with a coffee/tea - the coffee seemed to be Japanese-style (siphon? In any case, not espresso), and very decent for a coffee that comes in a set lunch.

It was all very well executed, though I can't help thinking that the dishes have been made much lighter and subtler for Cantonese palates (and perhaps health-conscious office workers). In many ways, I too have a Canto palate, so this wasn't unenjoyable by my standards, so don't go expecting traditional French food of France, or even hearty modern European a la M, and you'll be just fine. And I really love it that proper(ish) western food is being served daipaidong-style in a wet market - why didn't anyone think of it earlier? (Or maybe someone did but I just didn't know...)

ABC Kitchen
1/F Queen St Cooked Food Centre
1 Queen Street
Sheung Wan
Hong Kong
+852 9278 8227

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  1. Sher left the following comments on my Facebook page:

    "from what I understand the chef is NOT from M, the connection with M is that ABC's part owner was the barman at M. The pig is OK but not great.

    On the other hand right next door are the two greats of HK "street food": 曾記 for 粿品 and 陳春記 for pig blood "royale"

    ... the barman isn't the chef; just a part owner"

    [and the plot thickens - comments continue on the FB page!]

  2. Wow e_ting!... i wish i had your palate! (sarcasm)... and your sub par food writing ability. Most of the time people like you write about food but have no f**king clue about cooking... i hope one day i can be a low level writer like you.

  3. Michelle - thanks (no sarcasm, hehe!) - perhaps you were meaning to comment on this post instead?

    Also, you might like to attend this talk at AmCham, where Angie Wong (a proper food writer) will talk about bad little bloggers like me :)

  4. Indeed. You know you've made an impression when speckles of haters start to voice out. At least this one was upfront directly on your blog!

    With that said, I have to admit I haven't really followed your blog before (there are so many out there to keep up with!!), so I can't say much beyond that :)

  5. Michelle, the oh so eloquent and refined one walking among us mere mortals, are you one of those famous and spectacular chefs who cook perfect food but never f*kkng eat at their own fantastic restaurant?

  6. Who is this f**king biatch Michelle? She seems to be posting on multiple blogs (mine included) blasting people, but doesn't show us her true identity. What a f**king pu**y.

    Have I lowered myself down to HER level yet?

  7. Wow, people really write trash like that on other's blog (Re: Michelle). :( No need to use such language..

    Oh hey I got linked to here via Openrice - actually their pig here is not superb quality compared to say Ole's or other ones nope, but I kinda wrote about it nicely to help them get started as there was absolutely no one dining there when I ate! Zero! Geeze it has taken off, I wonder if Joe still recognises me. :D

    Just to clarify for others who might hop onto here - in fact, the young chef at ABC Kitchen working in the kitchen IS from M at the Fringe, but then again there are many levels of chefs! Joe the owner worked at the bar area at M outside that's why he knows so much about wines and drinks. I actually briefly mentioned this point in my original review in the finer details too. :P

    They seem to have evolved and started serving a mixture of Italian and French food nowadays - although their menu has Italian flag colours. I guess one doesn't come to eat here for the food, rather, for the fun of it all !

  8. Wow Michelle must be very lonely indeed to have so much time to spend dishing (pun intended) out harsh and utterly unhelpful critique. Particularly interesting how she insists one must be a chef in order to write about food. Does that mean you cannot comment on wine uless you work in a vineyard? She is clearly quite the word smith as well, is "low-level" the best adverb you could come up with? And have you never heard that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit? I hope one day to be as conceited a hate monger as you Michelle.