May 5, 2013

Mandarin duck

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For the last week or so, just about all of Hong Kong has been going ga-ga over the giant rubber duckie designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, including yours truly.  This cute, inflatable duckie has been parked in front of Ocean Terminal since May 2nd, and has even swum around a little in the middle of Victoria Harbour.

I've been pretty excited about the arrival of this duckie, and have gone to see it twice during the first two days.  I did take a break yesterday, but went back today for the third day in four so that I could take my godson to see it.  The little guy apparently really took to the yellow duckie, and at one point refused to leave the waterfront... Well, I'm glad he likes it as much as I do!

I had originally made plans for us to lunch at the No-Brain restaurant Al Molo, since it has a perfect view of the duckie.  However, we came to see the duckie a full 90 minutes or so early as we wanted to avoid the crowds, and we had exhausted all options for activities by 11 am...  With a full hour until the restaurant opened, Tigger made the last-minute to decision to go back to the Hong Kong side for a little dim sum.  I guess there would be no duck-shaped cookies for the little one today...

We arrived at Man Wah (文華廳) about half an hour before Al Molo was due to open, and even managed to order up some food for the little tyke while en route.  Yes, being a VIP (not me) certainly has its privileges!

Roast pork belly (脆皮五層腩) - dunno why this arrived at the table cold... reminiscent of an earlier meal at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門).  The crackling was also very much over-seasoned.

Tiger prawn, bamboo shoot dumpling (筍尖蝦餃皇) - the skin was very thin and delicate.  Lovely.

Beef tenderloin puff, black pepper sauce (黑椒牛柳酥) - I had something similar a couple of years ago, but this seemed much better today.

Absolutely love how these pastries are done...

Leafy amaranth in superior broth (上湯浸莧菜) - very young and tender amaranth.  Love the garlic...

Golden taro puff, abalone (蜂巢鮑魚盒) - the deep-fried taro puff was very, very tasty... with diced shiitake mushrooms inside.  The little abalone on top was pretty good, too.

Pan fried Hakka dumpling, pork, dried shrimp, black eye peas (香煎客家茶粿) - these were not bad, and not something I find often on menus.

Steamed glutinous rice dumpling, abalone, lotus leaf (荷香鮑魚珍珠雞) - for some reason we had ordered one too many of these, and I ended up having the whole thing by myself... I must say that this was better than your average rice dumpling, and had salty egg and dried conpoy (干貝) inside to lend some flavors.  Of course the abalone on top and its accompanying sauce didn't hurt, either...  Even better when taken with some X.O. sauce.

Prawn, yellow chive (韭黃鮮蝦腸粉) - interesting use of yellowed chives, but pretty good.

Finally there were some petits fours which were served up in mini versions of Mandarin's signature hampers.

While I thought the food was pretty decent today, I found myself somewhat annoyed at the cryptic English descriptions on the menu.  It seems that Man Wah has taken a cue from the Mandarin Grill + Bar in the naming of dishes... Some of these items now only list out the main ingredients, without telling diners how the dish is actually prepared.  This is an annoying practice, as diners unfamiliar with the dishes are likely to run into some surprises - which may be unwelcome.  Take the last dish for example: if I wasn't able to read Chinese and only went by the words "prawn, yellow chive", would I in a million years be able to know that this dish actually involved wrapping prawns and chives in rice flour rolls?  I think not.

But the Mandarin deserves praise in other respects.  My little godson was offered a cute little bag containing a drawing pad, coloring pens as well as a puzzle.  I thought this was a very nice gesture and would enable the little guy to keep himself busy while the adults ate.  Alas, the precocious one looked up at the big sister with a hint of a frown, pointed to his mama's iPhone that he's been playing with, then turned his attention back to the gadget in his hands... Sigh... Kids these days...

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