Monday, 13 July 2009

Fook Moon Lam (TST)

53-59 Kimberly Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui
Visited 11th July

The original Fook Moon Lam has been a Wan Chai institution for nearly forty years, gaining a reputation as one of Hong Kong's best and priciest Cantonese restaurants. With a mate visiting from out of town we decided to try the TST branch. Our group ended up being a sizable party of ten and we were seated at an out of the way corner table. One thing that struck me as strange was that for a place with good reputation it was basically empty, never a good sign on a Friday night.
The menu is pretty traditional with the usual emphasis on cruel 'delicacies' like shark fin. We ordered up a pile of dishes that included roast pigeon, fried salt and pepper squid and pork ribs, fried crispy skin chicken with shrimp paste, chilli prawns, baked fatty pork with cabbage, fried milk, beef with onions, broccoli, a whole duck and sticky rice. The first to arrive were the pigeons and fried dishes all of which were really tasty. The juicy little birds had an obvious smoked tea flavour that complemented their gaminess beautifully. The crisp, well seasoned fried squid and pork ribs were also enjoyable though I only got to try a small piece of each. The prawns were pretty tasty as was the silky fried milk that came with meaty chunks of mushroom. I didn't think much of the beef with onions, but maybe that's just because I tend to consider this a pretty boring dish, while on the other hand I loved the chunky slabs of fatty pork and cabbage that came sizzling from the oven in a rich sauce. I also enjoyed the signature sticky rice; the big bundle of goodness came wrapped in lotus leaves and packed with flavour, though I thought it was pretty expensive at $300.

It was Friday night and we were all ready for a few drinks; it was just a shame that the wine list was almost offensive in its pretentiousness. The small selection of over-priced Cru Bordeaux and expensive Burgundies didn't contain a single affordable option. Unlike many I consider drinking wine at restaurants (especially in HK) such terrible value that I prefer to do my splurging at home. When I'm out I look for good value, food friendly wines and tend to judge a winelist by its bottom tier rather than its top. Sure Fook Moon Lam had some nice Burgs on offer but nothing much else so in the end we just drunk cans of beer.

I walked away from Fook Moon Lam feeling disappointed. I said I enjoyed a lot of the food so what was my problem? Basically I think I just felt ripped off. The meal came to $286 a head which isn't too bad, yet we only drunk a beer or two each and most of us walked away still hungry. We asked the waiter for larger sized portions, but the serves we got were all tiny with just a nibble of each dish to try. Paying $120 for a small plate of broccoli seems to me a little over the top. I really wanted my mate to experience a 'proper' Hong Kong restaurant, yet Fook Moon Lam lacked ambience and atmosphere. The staff were pleasant enough; it was just the whole places just seemed fake and sterile. If you're thinking about a visit I'd forget it; there are plenty of better placesthan the disappointing Fook Moon Lam.
Visit restaurant website.

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