Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Speakeasies in Hong Kong - Club Qing...

Club Qing
10F, Cosmos Building
8 - 11 Lan Kwai Fong
Central, Hong Kong
Tel : (852) 2536 9773 (Reservation)
Fax : (852) 2536 9778
Website : www.clubqing.com
Email : info@ClubQing.com
Open Daily 7:30 - 11:30pm

Tucked away on the 10th floor of a quiet building in the centre of busy Lan Kwai Fong is the elusive and much talked about Club Qing. They have been constantly featured in the Top 3 of Hong Kong's list of Si Fong Choi restaurants. We missed out on a meal here on our last trip here simply because we have forgotten to make an advance reservation - a MUST if you want to savour a meal here as there are only 7 tables available and they are constantly fully booked every night. We decided on and pre-ordered the 11-course Chinese New Year Special Menu (HK$1,500 per head). As we were ushered into the restaurant, it was evident what the theme was as the interior are decorated in the Qing Dynasty theme with various Qing antiques and ornaments on display at every nook and corner of the tiny restaurant. The staff are very friendly and hospitable. Once seated, they take your drink order and at this juncture, the Chef-cum-Owner, Mr Andy Lam make his appearance to welcome you and your guests and do a little quick introduction of himself and his restaurant. Other than Cantonese, he is equally fluent in both English and Mandarin. He will also be constantly making short trips to your table throughout the night to intro each dish as it is presented. Course Number 1...specially selected Longjing Tea, presumably to prepare your appetite for the what's ahead! Next up, we had an assortment of cold fusion appetizers. The Sauteed Bunapi Mushroom with Pureed Black Truffle was an exceptional dish...I guess anything with truffle in it can't go wrong ya! The mushroom was lightly sauteed in butter and garlic and left to chill. It was then topped with a tiny dollop of pureed truffle before serving. The result was a beautifully-balanced dish -- succulent and crunchy mouthfeel and the tantalising flavour of truffle. The Ark Clam with Wasabi Sauce was a little disappointing though I enjoyed the wasabi sauce that went fairly well with the cucumber slices (anyway, I'm being bias here...anything with wasabi will naturally sit well with me!) The Ark Clam was tough and chewy which was a let-down. We also had the Spanish Aubergine marinated in Szechuan Peppercorn Sauce. The Szechuan Peppercorn Sauce was slightly hot and acidic and has a numbing effect on the tongue which also helps to give a different mouthfeel experience. Nonetheless, the ladies in the group were hooked on this sauce. Moving on from appetizers, we were next served with a huge slab of very lip-smacking Braised Superior Fish Maw. The fish maw has been soaked in water to hydrate and tenderise for 4 days and then braised in a broth made from slow-simmering dried scallops and dried shrimps for 4 hours. The texture is so soft, gelatinous and gummy. It was simply heavenly just having a bite and feeling it melt in your mouth. The next dish waiting to be served is the 28-head Japanese Superior Abalone. Similar in preparation to the fish maw, the abalone was braised in its own natural broth for 4 hours and the broth reduced to a thick concentrated sauce and served over the abalone. Simple but delicious. What more can I add. The seventh course to be served is the Deluxe Iron Kwan-Yin Tea which I again presume is the palate cleanser to prepare us for the next delicacy...Double-boiled Superior Sharks' Fin and Cartilage in Chicken Broth...all 3 taels of it (it says so in the menu!) I am not particularly crazy about sharks' fin coz firstly it's cruel to eat sharks' fin (think of all the poor finless sharks left to die on the ocean floor!) secondly, they are just bland in taste. However, I liked the Chicken Broth which was flavoursome and 'rich'! The last dish that came on before the dessert was the Stir-fried Udon with Crabmeat and Crab Roe. If you like you food a light and subtle in taste, you may like this dish because it's just that...good ol' home-cooked stir-fried noodles...what your mum and mine can conjure up easily in our home kitchen. I prefer mine with a little bit of wok hei...or literally wok's breath!! One more course of specially selected tea and we were finally presented with our final course for the night. With the price we paid for this menu, I was half-expecting to be served with double-boiled bird's nest (dessert that came with the HK$880 per head menu!) or at the least Hasma. What we got instead was the Chef's Special which was a Chocolate Moochi with Green Bean Powder and Orange Zest. Not very exciting and taste-wise not very challenging. The group also seemed to agree with me. What did I think of the food? Well, with all due respect, the quality was present, the taste relatively ok but I felt in all, it was an over-priced and over-indulgent meal! We were lucky we didn't suffer from a nose bleed! However, I would like to visit Club Qing again and try out their cheaper menus which include their signature dishes. Maybe my opinion will differ...Try it out and determine for yourselves!

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