Monday, March 2, 2015

百樂小館 Pak Loh, Mira Mall - A New Casual Arm of the Chiu Chow Institution

 The Pak Loh 百樂 restaurant group used to be one of the best Chiu Chow Institutions in Hong Kong.  Back in the 1970’s and 80’s days,  the Chiu Chow gangs or other businessmen came to restaurants like Pak Loh’s original in Causeway Bay.  Every table would try to order the biggest Cold Flower Crabs and Fishes and opened very pricy X.O.’s for dinner which they bottle keep at the restaurant.   This Culture gradually dissipated over the decades and as you might already have noticed – Pak Loh expanded and branched out with trendier restaurants which aim to capture the family or friends gatherings crowd market.   This Pak Loh branch is a younger line again and the food presentation is fancier looking.  




The Kung Fu Tea, with Pickles with shaved Galangal -
The typical Chiu Chow dining experience always start with these.   The Executive Chef is from Chiu Chow and I managed to get him to come around and asking him about the different styles around the world.  He says there are basically 3 different branches of Chiu Chow food which evolved over time.  The original,  our Hong Kong interpretation,  and also the South East Asia or even Thailand TeoChew cuisines.




Master Stock Braised Goose Liver and Tofu – $138
Pak Loh uses a size of goose,  where the liver can be extracted as a whole without slicing up and damaging the goose for other cooking purposes.  Smart!   This was silky soft, I actually thought the braising stock here is too subtle for me,  I like their Mongkok and Causeway Bay branches better as they kept a better master stock.   ~ 7/10




Fried Crab and Shrimp Cakes – 4 Servings at $60 x 4 = $240
Actually these were probably the best ones I have remember ever eaten.  The reason is because you can taste the chunkiness of the seafood inside and they were fresh tasting.  The outer batter coating was also crispy but not greasy..   Very outstanding.   ~  10/10


Roast Goose Heads and Necks – paired with a Scottish Ardmore 18 Years Whisky
The main reason we came here as we wanted to share some whisky.  This is already nicely carved up for us with both neck and head part.  Finger licking good!   Goose Heads in Hong Kong are sold at way cheaper than they are in China (where each can cost around $380-400 RMB),  it has always baffled me,  may be HK people in general don’t really eat this part by default…  ~ 7/10


Tai Chi Spinach Puree and Chicken Soup with shaved Yunnan Ham - $68
I love this soup but it normally uses Sweet Potato Leaves when in season,  and this dish can actually be traced back to its historical roots,  when it was actually served all Green.   Potent flavours and viscous smooth,  this was a great price too.  ~  9/10

Oysters and Fried Egg Omelette 蠔烙 – $68
This is not as slimy as the Taiwan or Fujian 蚵仔煎 versions.  It’s a crispier drier version,  but Hong Kong has 2 different versions.  I actually prefer the ones eaten in Singapore as they strike the right balance for me.   This was ok and dipped into the fish sauce, oysters quite plump too.  ~ 7.5/10  




Mud Crab Stir Fried with Sticky Rice,  Fish Sauce and Galangal – $488
This traditional Chiu Chow dish uses very little sticky rice to coat the crab.  So the concentration of crab flavours get all absorbed into the rice.  For this price,  it is very good value for money.  Crab had a lot of meat either so it’s not the molting type you encounter sometimes which is heavily biased towards water content.  ~ 8/10




Braised Fish Maws with King Prawns, Calamari,  Pork,  Bamboo Shoots and Mushrooms – $168
The fish maws were nice,  but it was the prawns which shocked me the most as the prawn flavour was very strong. Rustic, gelatinous dish done right here.  Such a lady’s dish but I quite like this combination.  ~ 8/10




Satay Beef Fried Hor Fun Noodles – $88
They use American Rump beef and it’s not tenderized,  and had a great beef taste.  The other highlight is the Satay/Sate sauce – its is one of two Chiu Chow style variants and its house made here with plenty of Peanuts,  Sesame,  Dried Flounder powder,  Galangal, Prawns paste, various spices.  A proper Chiu Chow version sauce is expensive to make and this sauce was so fragrant you can smell it from a few feet away.  ~ 9.5/10

Jianshu and Sweet Potato with Glutinous Dumplings – $38
They import the Jianshu from Chiu Chow, a local delicacy of a plant that doesn’t appear to have an English name and tastes a bit like a mountain yam but firmer and more gingery.  A very special dessert finish.   ~ 9/10




Kung Fu Tea again -
To finish..  We liked this restaurant for its non pretentious approach,  yet there are no compromises.  Most recipes retain the more authentic spirit and ingredients are imported if necessary.   Apparently each outlet will taste slightly different,   due to the different typography but the original Causeway Bay restaurant will have the most experienced Chiu Chow chefs who do the recipes the way they remember it to be!   This branch meanwhile will be slightly more adventurous and with fancier plating to suit the modern crowd.




Price:  $300 + 10% per head (More desserts and dishes than covered here)
Food:  ♕♕♕♕ - ♕♕♕♕♕

Address:  尖沙咀彌敦道132號美麗華商場食四方4樓4A1號舖
4/F Mira Mall, 132 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Ph:  21579949

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