1st Floor, 42 Moody Rd, TST
Visited 5th October 2009
The hype around Spring Deer amazes me; this place is so popular that you need to book at least a month in advance. On the few previous occasions I'd tried ringing I was told I could maybe have a table in the corner at 10.30pm if I was lucky and someone cancelled. Eventually the food gods smiled and somehow I managed to get a reservation at a reasonable hour, one Monday night. The restaurant's located up some grimy stairs near the eastern end of Moody Road. Inside it crowded, noisy and probably looks the same as it did decades ago.
People come to Spring Deer for the Peking duck, so the first thing we did was placed our order - "whole birds only, no smaller serves". We also went with pork dumplings, sweet and sour pork, a serve of choy and noodles with chicken. The duck was good, though seemed a bit 'clunky' - the pancakes were thick (though this doesn't bother me as much as many in Hong Kong), the cucumber slices way too chunky and the bird really fatty. The big steamer of dumplings that came next were good; meaty and moist inside, they had plenty of flavour. In Australia sweet n sour pork is the symbol of bad, Anglicised Chinese food and we ordered this realising that my brother had been in Hong Kong for nearly a month and hadn't tried a local version yet. Spring Deer's rendition was pretty good: tender pork and a nice balanced sauce, though I found it strange that we were simply given a plate of meat with no other components to the dish. The veggies were a favourite; the massive pile of fresh, mini bok choy came simply served with garlic, was fresh and delicious. We finished with handmade, pulled noodles with shredded chicken. The la main were tasty and chewy on the bite, but the dish itself lacked flavour and I had to add a big wallop of chilli to give it a bit of interest. To drink we shared a few big bottles of beer and a bottle of reasonably priced white.
I enjoyed my meal at Spring Deer; the good quality, traditional food was tasty and fresh. It also offers pretty damn good value; a full Peking duck was only $280 and our total bill came to under $200 a head, including drinks. Despite having a fun night and enjoying the food, I left Spring Deer feeling a little empty. Thinking about it I suppose I was disappointed by the hype, not the restaurant. This place is so talked up that when I encountered something that wasn't Earth shattering I felt a tad let down; sure the food's good, but the "best Peking Duck in the world" - come on. Is Spring Deer worth a visit? Yes. Is it worth booking a month in advance? No.