Cooked food centres have been the source of many salivating moments for me while I’ve been in Hong Kong, often having an amazing atmosphere coupled with delicious Asian selections dished out in large shareable portions. Our visit to ABC Kitchen, however, was everything the conventional dai pai dong is not. As the first and only western styled dai pai dong in Hong Kong, its presentation makes the most distinctive impression as we make our way up to the second floor of the complex. Unlike its neighbours, the owners of this eatery (yes, because it’s in a class of its own), has tables covered with red and white checkered table cloths and neatly arranged tableware. Out of place as it may seem, if they had some nice candles, I daresay it’d be a thoughtful and creative first date venue!
The menu offers some exquisite selections and for our party of 5, we managed to order almost everything available. For starters, we chose the Avocado, Asparagus & Grape Salad with Parmesan cheese ($78) and Pan-fried Foie Gras ($118) with fig jam.
Salads are always a nice way to kick-start a meal but the ethics of production methods aside, the foie gras was the first dish to make me salivate. Perfectly seared on the outside, it was soft, tender and full of flavour on the inside. Watch out though, the waiters may suggest you order more portions to go around, but sometimes its better to savour the smaller bites!
Even though it’s a cooked food centre, the owners of ABC Kitchen, otherwise known as ‘A Better Cooking’, were previously trained at M at the Fringe which has since closed. Perhaps with such training under their belt, they’ve also placed a lot of effort in ensuring the service is on par with their food offerings, which I daresay is some of the friendliest and warmest of all I’ve witnessed in Hong Kong.
Digging into the mains, the Roasted Suckling Pig ($148) which was served with caramel apple and kipfler potato, had a beautifully crisp and thin skin. The meat was tender and the fat was not enough to make me flinch but sufficient to add to the succulent flavour.
The Lamb Shank ($158) was a personal favourite having been slowly braised in Shiraz with a side of mashed potato and sauteed French beans. I love this way of cooking, and ABC Kitchen have done it well – presenting a dish where the juicy and full-flavoured meat fell easily off the bone. The Pan-roasted Pigeon ($158), conversely, may have been a bit overcooked, leaving the meat a bit too tough and a struggle to chew.
The Seared Sea Bass ($178) rested on a bed of cauliflower puree and rich lemon butter sauce with a side of asparagus. Call me greedy and unappreciative of this semi-fine dining environment but I would have liked a larger piece – just because it was so delicious! The white flesh was soft, the skin seared just right and the lemon butter sauce made the dish all the more tantalising.
Finishing up, we tried the the Beef Tenderloin ($188) which was coated with cracked black pepper and surrounded by potatoes. The pepper was enough to add a simple touch and fully seal in the fresh juices of the tenderloin.
Dessert was an entirely separate meal for an entirely separate stomach (read: be prepared to eat lots!). What was presented for us filled the table with beautifully arranged on white plates and with the exception of one, were topped with summer berries.
Although not the best dessert to share (yes, I clumsily tried to split it), the Mille Fueille ($42) was beautifully fresh and crispy, layered with custard and splashed with passion fruit sauce while the the Pavlova ($58) was my taste of Australian nostalgia for the night. Both desserts weren’t too sour and packed in just the right amount of sweetness. The Lemon Meringue Tart ($42) was delicate and dainty, but I would have preferred it to be more chilled.
The stars of the night would most definitely be the White Chocolate Mousse with strawberry sauce ($42) and Black Sesame Souffle ($48) both of which left our eyes wandering towards the kitchen and our tastebuds begging for more.
The consistency of the mousse was just right and a perfect balance of sweet and sour achieved, melting in our mouths with each spoonful. The original photo I took was when it was first brought out but I had to retake it to really show how delectable, saliva inducing and heavenly the dessert actually was.
When the souffle arrived, there was an audible cheer from my fellow diners. It looked amazing and tasted even better – like a child’s imagination of the fluffy clouds on a summer’s day. Each bite dissolved in my mouth like fairy floss with just the right amount of sesame.
When I was first told about ABC Kitchen, I had also heard rumours that everything about this little establishment taken a turn for the worse in the recent months; increasing prices and down sizing the portions but it doesn’t seem that way to me and certainly won’t put me off from returning. The food and service here are exceptional and the fact that they’ve chosen the, same may consider, frugal path of opening in a cooked food centre, I think it sets them apart and makes the experience all the more memorable!