Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hong Kong Eats: Tai Ping Koon in Causeway Bay (food, HKFall10)

Tai Ping Koon (太平館) is a restaurant that I grew up with and has a storied history. It was one of the earliest restaurants in Hong Kong that served what we called "soy sauce Western food" (豉油西餐) with a focus on their sweet, soy sauce-based "swiss sauce". The sauce actually has no Swiss background, but the name was derived from the chef's misunderstanding when a customer exclaimed that the sauce was sweet, and it has stuck ever since.

Perhaps it's because I have fond childhood memories of the food here that I went in with high expectations. Unfortunately, because of those expectations, this was probably the most disappointing meal of my trip. We ordered most, but not all, of the specialties of the house.

I understand that this was probably the only dish that was prepared ahead of time, but I still found it weird that the first dish to arrive at my table was the roasted sliced pork leg, accompanied by a plate of white rice. The pork leg would have been considered very dry if it wasn't for the fact that it was drowning in the sauce. The accompanying vegetables were as bland as they looked.

The boiled corned ox-tongue was simple but good. Nice solid pieces with good texture and a good mix of meat and fat. It had a nice, slightly briny flavor that wasn't overpowering. Something that might seem pretty ordinary in NYC (corned beef, tongue), but it's a little harder to find in Hong Kong.

The smoked pomfret also had a nice clean flavor, despite the very brown color. I love pomfret so I was pleased with this dish.

Roasted/fried squab had good squab flavor, but wasn't particularly exciting. Again, more of that sauce was everywhere, including the gravy boat filled with giblets.

Baked Portuguese style chicken was moist as the pre-roasted chicken was not baked to oblivion like many Hong Kong restaurants do with their baked dishes. The creamy curry sauce went well with the potatoes and rice.

Looking back, it really wasn't that bad of a meal. However, at this price point, the food just felt too heavy and the flavors were monotonous. Perhaps if I replaced the pork leg with other specialties like the swiss sauce chicken wings or the fried noodles with beef in swiss sauce, I would have felt the cost worth it for a trip down memory lane.


kim said...

I'm original from HK as well. While I'm a vegetarian, I'm reminescing my childhood when I used to buy "fishballs" and sausage on a stick from the street carts. Happy travelling!

The Pretender said...

I was never a big fishballs and sausage stick person (I bought them but didn't obsess about them as some people do), but there will be a post soon about more everyday type foods coming.