February 23, 2009

One little satisfying (Michelin) star

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A dear friend of mine is in town for a couple of days, making his last rounds in Hong Kong before moving out of Asia. I agreed to hit some restaurants with him, and tonight it was Tim's Kitchen (桃花源). I haven't been back there for a few years, and now that the restaurant's received a coveted Michelin star, it was certainly time to pay another visit.

We took the earlier seating at 6:30pm, and I had pre-ordered all the dishes when the reservation was made. The small restaurant was mostly empty when I arrived, but would soon see most of the tables occupied.

We started with the stir-fried giant glass prawn (玻璃蝦球), which came with a small slice of Yunnan ham (金華火腿). One of the signature dishes at the restaurant, I actually thought it was slightly overcooked. It was just a teeny bit bland, so it's a good thing we've got the slice of ham and the shrimp paste.

A giant crab claw poached with winter melon (冬瓜蟹拑) arrived in front of me. Another signature dish of the restaurant, I chose the winter melon preparation instead of one steamed with egg custard or deep-fried. This was absolutely wonderful. The shell has been removed and more crab meat has been stuffed into the claw to make it extra plump. The flesh was tender, the starched sauce and winter melon meant the flavors were delicate.

Remembering a meal we had together in San Francisco where we had tripe at A16, I ordered stir-fried tripe with mixed vegetables (七彩炒肚尖). The tripe was fabulous - sooo crunchy and chewy. The mix of celery, red bell peppers, bamboo shoots, sweet pickles, Chinese parsley and pine nuts made for interesting textures as well as flavors.

Braised pomelo skin with shrimp roe (蝦子柚皮) is a humble but classic Cantonese dish, and they do it well here. Nice texture, and I eagerly scooped up the starchy sauce so I won't miss a bit of that wonderful shrimp roe.

I'm glad I decided to order only one fried pigeon (炸乳鴿) because it was pretty darn big one. Very yummy. Crispy, fragrant skin with just a bit of fat underneath to make it tasty. Lots of flavor here.

Thinking we have a bit more room, I ordered one bowl of the snake soup (太史五蛇羹) to share. This was really nice, starting with the excellent knife work that one sees immediately. Light and delicate flavors, enhanced by the usual condiments. One of the best snake soups I've had, but I confess I am no connoisseur...

I'm feeling full by now, and decide not to order any dessert. This has been a wonderful meal, because the food has been really well-prepared and at the same time very simple and straight forward. With the plain decor and the ho-hum service, the quality of the food was left to speak for itself, and the Michelin star is well-deserved.

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