May 22, 2015

Eating Hello Kitty

Pin It

Believe it or not, lunch today was the most highly-anticipated meal in the entire last month.  No, that honor did not belong to my dinner at JAAN, ranked #11 in Asia's 50 Best Restaurants for 2015, nor was it a return visit to my favorite Cantonese private dining space.

The most anticipated meal was, in fact, my first visit to the Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine (Hello Kitty中菜軒), and it had all the potential to turn into a complete disaster.

Ever since we first heard the news last month, Hello Kitty and I have been talking about checking this place out.  When I shared news of the opening on FB, it seemed that I have quite a few friends who want to go, too!  I even have a friend who wanted me to take his kids so that he wouldn't have to go himself.  I soon found myself with what a friend jokingly referred to as "my harem"...

Lemme pause for a second and clarify something.  I AM NOT a Hello Kitty fan.  I do not own a single item bearing Hello Kitty's image.  I find it a little disturbing (and mildly amusing) that there are probably tens of millions of women of all ages who adore this mouthless little girl.  That's right.  HELLO KITTY IS NOT A CAT.  Hello Kitty is a little British girl named Kitty White.  She may look like a cat, but she isn't one.  So when I saw an image of Hello Kitty raising her non-existent middle finger, I adopted it as my profile picture on FB.  That is it.  And periodically, I check out a blog called Hello Kitty Hell - where someone documents the crazy obsession this world seems to have with this character - and shake my head in wonder at the kind of authorized/unauthorized products people can churn out.

But I digress.  I decided to organize an outing to check out the restaurant, and figured the waiting times (they don't take reservations) could be minimized by going to lunch on a weekday.  So here we are, on a Friday, and my friend who arrived first shortly after 12pm waited for about 5 minutes - only because we needed one of the bigger tables.  By the time Hello Kitty and I arrived around 12:15, we already had a table and got seated immediately.

As has been widely reported, the whole place was full of Hello Kitty.  Everywhere one looks, there is simply no way to escape having Hello Kitty within one's field of vision.  The furniture is custom made so there's a giant Hello Kitty head at the center of every table.  Each chair is emblazoned with the custom logo of a bow with a Chinese design.  All the tableware featured the logo of the restaurant - down to the chopstick rests.  As expected, the moment we sat down, the group of us began taking pictures of anything and everything.

And this is something one should expect here.  One does not come here for the food, but for the experience... for the cuteness.  (Although, according to a number of reports earlier, the food actually is supposed to be decent.)  We spotted a lone gong nui (港女) at a neighboring table, who apparently spent 15 minutes taking selfies...

There was never any question in my mind that the 5 of us would "sweep the menu" and order up all 6 specialty Hello Kitty dim sum items.  They came in sets of 3 so we would have to share, but that's never an issue with us...

Hello Kitty barbecued pork puffs (叉燒酥) - not such a good start.  These were supposed to be shaped like Hello Kitty's head, but the poor girl was barely recognizable.  They tried to fix this by using canape picks in the shape of Hello Kitty's head (only 1) or Hello Kitty's bow (the other 2).  The filling was also starting to ooze out a little, which showed poor execution.  Taste-wise this was OK.

Hello Kitty bow puffs (蝴蝶角) - once again, these didn't look like what we saw in pictures.  They don't look anything like the bow on Hello Kitty's head, although taste-wise these were what one would expect from deep-fried minced pork dumplings (醎水角).

Hello Kitty custard buns with egg yolk (流沙包) - aren't these cute?!  According to this CNN article, Hello Kitty's red bow is dyed with beetroot, nose is dyed with carrots, and eyes/whiskers black with squid ink.

Now that I've had enough cuteness, it's time to poke Hello Kitty's eyes out...

...and then split her head in two.  The custard and yolk filling was pretty good, I gotta admit.

Hello Kitty steamed prawn dumpling (蝦餃皇) - although all four dumplings feature the red bow, only one had a drawn face.  Taste-wise there isn't much difference between these and other prawn dumplings around town.

FYI, the paper stopping the dumplings from sticking to the bamboo steamer?  That's in the shape of Hello Kitty's head, too...

Hello Kitty steamed brown sugar sponge cake (馬拉糕) - these were fine.  Of course, they're not as good and fluffy as what I'd get at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門), but I ain't complainin'...

Hello Kitty stir-fried beef noodles (干炒牛河) - I had read that this was one of the best-tasting dishes, and the reports were right.  This was by far the best, and about as enjoyable as some of the better versions around town.  Yup, they took the egg and made it into a bow.

Hello Kitty steamed rice with prawns and emerald egg white (翡翠蝦球蛋白飯) - this certainly looked cute, with moulded rice sitting on a bed of green steamed egg white.  But the flavors were a little mild, especially coming after the noodles.  Not very popular with this crowd...

Hello Kitty diet stir-fried glutinous rice (健怡生炒糯米飯) - I thought this might fare better than the steamed rice, but I was wrong.  I conveniently ignored the term "healthy" in the description, and this turned out to be pretty bland.  All the ingredients - such as chopped spring onions, XO sauce, mushrooms...etc. were placed on the edges of the steamer, and I guess we were supposed to mix them up with the rice before serving.

Oh well, should have ordered the rice with apple and shredded chicken, since Hello Kitty's favorite food is her mom's baked apple pie...

Hello Kitty lotus seed paste bun (蓮蓉包) - these, too, were pretty good.  There's a video someone of me slowly ripping Hello Kitty's head in two...

We were pretty full after all this food, and for the cost of around USD 20 per head, I'm not gonna complain too much about the quality of the food at this price.  The cute dim sum items certainly didn't disappoint!

A final word:  While there is officially a no-reservation policy and tables are on a first come, first served basis, the restaurant does have a private room - appropriately named 林檎閣.  They do take reservations for a table of 12, with a minimum spending amount of HKD 5,000.  Initially, we were wondering how it would be possible to spend that much money even with 12 people, when a whole chicken costs only HKD 238.  But then we noticed that the daily seafood is charged at market price, and one can always order up a few bottles of the Hello Kitty wines - still wine charged at HKD 398 per bottle, sparkling wine at HKD 498 per bottle.  Hell, I can even bring my own wines and pay HKD 150 for corkage.

I know what I'm gonna do on my next visit...

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map