Monday, June 23, 2014

Tender is the Night. Melt in your mouth Char Siew at West Villa, Lee Gardens (My Week-end in Hong Kong, Part 4)

Travel takes me out of my day to day vegetarian existence.  I am able to rationalise eating anything and everything, chalking it down to not wanting to miss a taste experience that is iconic and representative of a place.  And what can be more iconic for Hong Kong than cantonese roast meats?  Char siew pork, specifically.  On this trip, I was able to try one of the best char siew I had ever had.

Friday night dinner was with good friend and long time Hong Kong resident Beba, who always knows the best places to eat anywhere in town.  We almost forgot about dinner as we talked up a storm!  Before we realised it, we were both hungry, it was past 8 p.m. and the sooner we got to food, the better we would feel.  Beba decided that West Villa, just around the corner at Lee Gardens, was a convenient and reliably good place to eat.  This branch in Causeway Bay is on the 5th floor of Lee Gardens 2.  It occupies the whole floor and is what you see, when you get out of the lift.

The place seemed abuzz with diners -- this was Friday night after all.  But perhaps due to the lateness of the hour, we were able to find an empty table.  

We were seated quite a way towards the back and near the kitchen.  It was my first time to try West Villa and Beba said that it was even more popular for yum cha or morning and afternoon tea.  
That means I'll have to come back and try their dim sum one of these days.

Ice cold Tsing Tao beer is always a good choice to start a meal!  

The english menu was not as thick as the chinese menu.  Beba said that this was a particular disadvantage for non-Chinese speaking patrons.  You never get to see what the real specialties are.  But the english menu listed Barbecued Pork as the signature dish and so we had an order, 
which was good for two.

My macro photo skills are not the best and I guess you wouldn't know how good it was from this shot.  But this char siew was definitely one of the best I had ever enjoyed in Hong Kong.  
Each slice from  this pork loin strip was quite thick but it was incredibly tender, moist and flavourful.  
You could really taste the curing, the smoking that had gone into this roasted meat.   
The fatty bits were meltingly, deadly delicious.  It had none of that burnt, dried out taste which you sometimes get from inferior char siew

We also ordered a clay pot of eggplant, minced pork and salted fish.  The eggplant was smooth-salty from the dried fish and the minced pork added that  umami kick.  It was slightly oily but we 
shared a small cup of rice to counter that (although I'm sure I had more rice than Beba did).

As penance for enjoying the sinfully good char siew , we had a pile of 
kong xing tsai, lightly sautéed with garlic.  
What a perfect trinity of flavours ... tender,  smoky char siew
salty-sharp eggplant and fresh and light greens.  
It was a terrific and tasty dinner to end my short Hong Kong getaway. 

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