Friday, January 4, 2013

Bite-Size Review - Golden Valley Restaurant

The temperature in Hong Kong nowadays is hovering around 10 degrees Centigrade and the weather outlook is a bit on the bleary side, with gusty winds and peeks of sunshine from time to time.  On the culinary front, that just means one thing:  it's hot pot season.

Found this gem not a two-minute walk from my apartment - the Michelin-starred Golden Valley Restaurant in the decidedly four-star Emperor Hotel here in Happy Valley.  The first time I was there about a month ago, I was struck by the large number of hot pot diners that were in the relatively small, low-ceilinged restaurant; one table even had 12 giddy guests, all obviously colleagues from the same work place, having an enthusiastically rip-roaring, sweaty hot pot experience that was heightened by a birthday celebration, pre-Christmas jollities and a healthy dose of those lethal Szechuan peppers in their soup stock.

I went back with three friends over the weekend and here's the thing with hot pot dining.  One tends, no, scratch that, is guaranteed, to over-order as each dish of raw vegetables, seafood and meat seems initially so deceptively puny, and then, bam! two hours later, one inevitably feels the discomfort of a distended belly over the skinny jeans that doesn't seem now like such a good idea to wear for a mostly liquid smogasbord.  (Un-sexy as they are, smocks and elastic-waisted pants are the uniforms of choice for this gourmet overindulgence.)

Speaking of a free-for-all, my favourite part of the experience was heading to the condiments-slash-DIY sauce station.  There, I could whisk up any blend of chopped garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, strained ginger, shallots, coriander and chili sauce that's to my liking, and go back for seconds and thirds.  Fantastic concept all around.

Now, we opted for the two-soup hot pot combo as we were quite sure we'd die (or at least our tastebuds will) if we only stuck with the Szechuan pepper soup stock - the other was mushroom-based - and then dunked in our orders of raw slices of beef, lamb, octopus paste, fishballs, beef intestines, tofu, bakchoy,  watercress, vermicelli, udon, and spam.  Yes, spam.  For hot pot.  For some unfathomable reason, my friends, both of whom have lived and worked in parts of China, tell me it's the absolute thing for hot pots over there.  Spam.  Huh.

Here are some of the highlights of our feasting:





Golden Valley Restaurant at The Emperor (Happy Valley) Hotel
1 Wang Tak Street, Happy Valley.  Telephone +852 2961 3330
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