Spending our time untethering the mind, getting the fidgets out, exploring the in-between ideas, and learning kintsugi.

A private kitchen in Hong Kong

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Yellow Door Kitchen (bottom right)

Yellow Door Kitchen (bottom right)

Restaurant: Yellow Door Kitchen
Location: Hong Kong Central
Cuisine: Sichuanese and Shanghai style food with 16 course prix fixe menu
Cost: $288 HKG per person (~$40 USD)

We had asked our concierge (@Lan Kwai Fong) to book us at Da Ping Huo Private Kitchen but they were booked full. So our concierge suggested Yellow Door Kitchen – a tiny little restaurant  on the fourth floor on Cochrane lane, underneath the mid-level escalator. A little research suggested that it was started by Hong Kong gastronome Lau Kin-Wai who started Da Ping Huo as well. Yellow Door is the first private kitchen started in the late ’90s, now run by Kin-Wai’s son, and apparently draws loyalists like movie mogul Run Run Shaw, and the hot and talented Mr. Andy Lau. So, it had seemed like an excellent choice.

The restaurant sign is indeed hard to see –  it is on top of the only 7-eleven on intersection of Cochrane lane and Lyndhurst Terrace. A rickety elevator would get you up here. The space looked like a converted balcony – clean with a lot of potential but the proprietor had given up on the decor half way through. The chairs were scattered randomly about and our table was placed blocking an entryway. Maybe it was part of the underground touch.

The menu read:

Appetizers: Pickled cucumber, fresh soybean sheets with garlic sauce, Stir fry beef fillet in spicy sauce, Stewed carrot with duck confit, corn with lemon leaves, salad of shredded potato in spicy sauce.
Main course: Soup of scallop and flowering chinese cabbage, chicken and shredded leek w/ spicy sauce topped w/ minced peanut, smoke pork rib with honey and tea leaves, fried prawn in sichuan sour and spicy sauce, stir fry squash with ginger, Shanghai stuffed duck.
Dim Sum: Sichuan “Dan-Dan” noodles
Dessert: Sesame dumplings

Sounds good doesn’t it. But it was a mixed experience. The appetizers were reasonably exciting – the tongue numbing sichuan pepper was a welcome taste at the end of a long tiring day. The shredded potatoes were crunchy, the beef beefy, the corn kernels were glowing with the flavor of julienned Keffir lime leaves and the cucumbers cool and crunchy. The carrot with duck confit turned out to be daikon with duck confit but that was all right.

The soup of scallop and Chinese cabbage was pretty to look at with tiny green cabbage bits suspended in a slightly viscous stock but did nothing to the taste buds. The chicken was the best tasting savory item in the menu – although the amount of sesame seeds in the dish was a bit too much. Alas, the fat on the pork ribs hadn’t rendered out – it was too sweet and not smoky at all. The fried prawn was something I could have cooked in my kitchen at the end of a long day of work – and I do only amateur home cooking. The squash was bland – probably a palate cleanser dish. Shanghai stuffed duck was the biggest disappointment – the stuffing was a mass of overcooked rice and again the balance of taste was tipped in favor of sweetness.

Finally the “dan-dan” noodles in a five spice broth – it was adequate – the noodles were the size of angel hair pasta but they were light. The dessert was a mochi dumpling in a light syrup with sesame paste – one of the best dishes of the day.

In US dollar terms, it was not terribly expensive for the amount of food – but I would rather not have eaten here. Hong Kong private kitchens had held a fascination which is now lost. 

Written by Som

December 31, 2009 at 11:02 am

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