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vorspeise
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Overpriced tacos and bad tamale Cries Jan 03, 2013   
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Categories : Mexican

Last night the SO and I decided to have Mexican..we were on the way to Brickhouse when we impulsively decided to try Socialito instead, as friends had given us rave reviews of the place.

Socialito is actually 2 restaurants in 1 -- an casual counter-top taqueria on the street-front, and a more fancy formal dining area indoors -- with different menus.

We went for the casual tacos on the store front. I ordered the duck carnitas taco ($75) while the SO ordered the vegetarian corn tamales ($95). We also split a horchata (forgot the exact price, about $50) and a side of tortilla chips with guacamole and pico de gallo ($75). Now, these prices are on the pricey side for casual/Mexican fare, but since it was LKF/Soho area, it was not unexpected.

Verdict on the venue:
1. A really well-designed taqueria front that feels authentic, and the restaurant inside is well-done as well. What you would expect for the group behind Lily & Bloom.
2. The staff are friendly.

Verdict on the food and drink:

1. Duck taco ($75) -- two very small tacos in a paper container. The meat was generously portioned and the texture was good (not too dry, not too wet). However, the duck meat was way oversalted (even for someone who's used to salty food!) and lacked balance. It could have done with more vegetables or herbs (cilantro, tomato? something else?) to balance out the heavy saltiness of the meat. The size was about the same as the tacos at Mr Taco Truck (but the price there is $34 for two tacos).

2. Corn tamales ($95) -- again, two small tamales that came in what appeared to be banana leaf, and not corn husk. The banana leaf gave a very bitter flavor to the tamale. The tamale was a bit too wet with the sauce and had not flavor, despite all the crema, queso fresco and chili on top. The texture was a bit weird, like lumpy curdled tofu. The tamale should be light and fluffy, like good polenta. For the price for a vegetarian dish, it was not acceptable.

3. Horchata (about $50) -- OK, but it tasted like the restaurant used UHT milk or evaporated milk instead of fresh milk. For that price, they should be using fresh milk. Not much cinnamon flavor and the ice cubes are very big.

4. Chips with guacamole and pico de gallo ($75) -- OK. The tortilla chips were the best part of our meal. The Pico de gallo was fresh and good. The guacamole was average as the avocado wasn't fully ripe but overall OK, because I know it's hard to get good avocado in Hong Kong. However, if you've been to Mexican restaurants in the US, you know that the tortilla chips are usually served free. It's frankly a bit cheeky to charge almost US$10 for it.

Overall verdict:

Our meal cost just under HK$300 for two people (without tips or service charge). Due to the bad taste and small portion of the food, this seemed poor value. We can eat much better in Central at this price level.

Based on our experience with the "cheaper" menu of Socialito, we would not return to try the more expensive sit-down menu for the indoor restaurant.

However, we may give the place another try for only drinks, as the bar area inside is very nice and the staff is friendly. We would be very hesitant to order food. Drinks should be OK.
The outdoor section is a casual taqueria.
The outdoor section is a casual taqueria.
 
Supplementary Information:
There is no 10% service charge, but tipping is encouraged.
 
Recommended Dish(es):  none
 
Table Wait Time: 0 minute(s)


Date of Visit: Jan 02, 2013 

Spending per head: Approximately HK$150(Dinner)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 1  |  
Environment
 5  |  
Service
 3  |  
Hygiene
 3  |  
Value for Money
 1

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Mixed feelings Cries Dec 23, 2008   
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Categories : Thai

I work near here and have tried a few of their lunch sets. On the whole, service is OK but the food ranges from average to mediocre.

(a) Thai-style Hainan chicken rice (泰式海南雞飯) set @ HK$39.: comes with winter melon soup (冬瓜湯) The chicken is OK but the "oil rice 油飯" is too soft and not fragrant enough. There is not much taste. The chili sweet sour dipping sauce is very good, though.

(b) Thai Rice Noodle in Soup with Beef Flank ( 泰式牛腩金邊粉) set @ HK$34: there is not much taste to this one. It is very bland and the meat is tough and chewy. sad

(c) Mixed Thai Rice Noodle with Hai Nam Chicken in Thai Style (泰式海南雞撈金邊粉) @ $40: comes with the melon soup again. The chicken is OK but the brown-sauce stir-fried noodle is terrible. It is too dry, and there is no taste at all. It is also stuck together in clumps. I could only finish 1/3 of it. It would be better if it is "pad thai"-style with some salty and sour/sweet flavour in the noodles.

(d) side note: their drinks are not bad. Hot ginger honey (香茅薑蜜) is pretty good choice.

Overall verdict: There are many, many better choices in the Central/Sheung Wan area for lunch at this price. Try the chicken rice and drinks, but otherwise I recommend spending your lunch dollars elsewhere.
 
Recommended Dish(es):  泰式海南雞飯
 
Spending per head: Approximately HK$40(Lunch)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 2  |  
Environment
 3  |  
Service
 3  |  
Hygiene
 3  |  
Value for Money
 2

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Not a big fan  Cries Dec 12, 2008   
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Categories : Guangdong | Chinese Restaurant | Noodles/Rice Noodles | Soup | Congee

The husband of a friend of mine recommended this place for a group dinner back in September.

I wasn't very impressed. The prices are quite expensive for what is essentially 煲仔飯 and white chicken, etc. We didn't try the snake soup.

Chicken is OK, nothing impressive and a bit tough and not meaty enough (a lot of bones). However, my main problem was with the sausage 煲仔飯, sausage is OK, but the rice is too soft!! 煲仔飯 should have firmer rice due to the cooking method. The preserved sausage rice here was pretty bland, and the rice was very soft and felt like it was not cooked in the pot but in the rice cooker. It felt like eating wet tissues. There even wasn't any proper "Fan Chiu" (crispy rice crust on the pot) with our rice. Such a failure! sad

Better to go have 煲仔飯 on Temple Street, at least you can get better-cooked stuff for cheaper.
 
Spending per head: Approximately HK$130(Dinner)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 1  |  
Environment
 3  |  
Service
 3  |  
Hygiene
 3  |  
Value for Money
 1

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Categories : French | Hotel Restaurant | Fine Dining | Romantic Dining | Business Dining | Special Occasion Dining

Went there to celebrate my boyfriend's birthday. I booked a window seat 9 days in advance (a Thursday for the second Saturday evening).
Here's a run-down of the meal as best as I can remember (didn't take photos and our server's English / French was a bit unintelligible so it was hard to understand sometimes)

Free amuse-bouche
Baked cheese puffs (a bit like a round bite-sized cheesy eclair). It was so light it was like eating cheesy air. Really yummy. I also liked it how the server called them cheese puffs instead of going the French route (gougères au fromage).


Free appetizer

Trio plate: 1) jamon serrano with cantaloupe and crispy cracker, 2) I can't remember any more, and 3) a little cup with eggplant mousse and tomato granita on top. It was all good. I remember the crispy cracker and the eggplant mousse being especially good. The eggplant mousse was light and airy and flavorful - not salty but full of eggplant flavor.

Bread basket
Normally there's not much to say about the bread basket but I had to make a special mention of their bread, which was fantastic. Best bread I've had in HK (not that that's saying much). But the sourdough mini-boule, the black olive bread and everything was so perfectly done I'd go back just for the bread.

Appetizers
My boyfriend had Vendéen Frog's Legs with Spanish Risotto and Iberico Ham in Chervil Sauce. It was amazing. Crispy coated frog's legs were like mini chicken drumsticks and the risotto was amazing.
I ordered the Steamed Duck Foie Gras with Saffron Fennel, Liquorice and Orange Blossom Foam. Very creative and interesting, the foie gras flavor was more smooth without the caramelized coating you get from the usual pan-searing treatment. Not sure I would order again though as I'm a huge fan of the crispy bits, but that's just a personal preference.

Main course
Boyfriend ordered Poitou Lamb en Croûte de Sel with Black Olive Polenta and Vegetable Tian in Brown Nut Jus. The lamb fillet came to the table in a pastry crust (i.e. en croûte) and the server cut it out before serving. It was a substantial size and very tender. The polenta was delicious (not dry or mealy at all) and might have been chargrilled.
I ordered Suckling Pig Rack with Carbonara Conchiglie and Fondant Zucchini in Sage Jus. I think they had amazing gravy - not too salty and perfectly balanced thickness and flavors (or as my server called it "natural pig jus"). Boyfriend was impressed by the quality of their pasta (it was rather good!) but I fell in love with their fondant zucchini. Think of a very light, cheesy creamed spinach but using perfectly-cooked, melt-in-your-mouth zucchini. Yum! The pork was also perfecty cooked, juicy and tender and lightly seasoned. Apparently a lot of their meat is imported from France and elsewhere in Europe. It may not be environmentally responsible or supporting local producers etc, but it tasted really unique and delicious - you can't get it anywhere else in Hong Kong

Free dessert & chocolate plate
The restaurant also provides free chocolate plate and desserts. I'll start with the dessert: 1) peach jelly (with some alcohol?) with crushed biscuits and with some sort of sabayon (?) on top. Totally amazing. It came in a skinny shotglass in a small glass cup, which the server filled with dry ice. A bit 80s but the effect was cool and it kept the dish chilled.The chocolate plate consisted of four different items: 1) milk chocolate square. Nice. 2) can't remember. 3) pistachio-encrusted marshmallow with a mango or something mousse on top, 4) dark chocolat square (I thought it was pretty complex and dark but my boyfriend didn't like this one so much, he said it reminded him of a cat urine carpet smell?!).


Desserts

Boyfriend ordered a peach dish that I can't find the description of on the restaurant website. It was pretty good though.
I had Marinated Raspberry with Pistachio Mousse, Light Génoise and Lemon Yoghurt Ice Cream. It was so good. I loved the giant fresh raspberries (I did wonder though if they were just Driscolls), and the pistachio mousse and lemon yoghurt ice cream was very well executed - not too sweet / sour, allowing the natural flavours to come through, and creamy without being heavy.


Wines:
2006 Côte Rôtie (not sure of which vineyard, my boyfriend chose it); he also had a French dessert wine (forgot the name). The French sommelier was young but he was enthusiastic, chatty and definitely knew his stuff.

Overall Comments:
The food is pretty amazing (especially for Hong Kong), and the staff are friendly but not intrusive. However some of them seemed a bit unsure of themselves at times (especially for a 3 Michelin star establishment!). Some of that may be due to the language barrier - the local staff, while bilingual in Chinese and English, can create unintended smiles (e.g. pig jus?). However everyone is smiling and sincere so that's just a minor note.
The food is creative and very well executed. The unlimited bread basket was also very good - difficult to stop ourselves from eating it all!
The open kitchen provides some entertainment as well. The temperature, music and lighting of the room is carefully managed - no air-con blasting here and the music is muted but audible, allowing conversation (bossa nova was playing the night we went).
If you can get a window seat (which we did), it is definitely a treat to watch the sun go down on Victoria harbour.
 
Date of Visit: Aug 14, 2010 

Occasion:  Birthday 

Spending per head: Approximately HK$1400(Dinner)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 5  |  
Environment
 4  |  
Service
 4  |  
Hygiene
 5  |  
Value for Money
 4

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Categories : Mexican | Fast Food | Snack Shop & Deli | Meatless Menu

This newly opened taco shop/stand is hidden away on a quiet street in Quarry Bay, yet it's worth the trouble to find as it has the best, most authentic Mexican food I've had in Hong Kong.

It may currently be the only place in HK where you can get horchata, a Mexican rice milk drink that's flavoured with cinnamon and spices. It's a must!

The salsas are freshly made and vary from day to day. I went last Friday night, when they had a special "salsa verde" with green tomatoes. It was good but packed a lot of punch -- maybe a bit too spicy for me but my eating companions didn't complain!

I had the roast pork tacos -- the vegetables were very fresh, the meat was juicy, and the taco had a good fresh taste of corn.

The price is also very reasonable, ranging from around $12 (taco) to $50 (burrito / taco + set). They also have quesadillas, nachos, and other options.

If it was in Central or Causeway Bay, I would definitely go there several times a week, but as it is, I will try to make it back at least once a month! smile

The kitchen is also shaped like a truck (it offset some of my disappointment that it wasn't an actual truck) and it is standing room only. This is what Mexican food should be though - cheap and cheerful! (However, no liquor license, it seems, as yet...)
 
Spending per head: Approximately HK$50(Dinner)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 4  |  
Environment
 3  |  
Service
 4  |  
Hygiene
 4  |  
Value for Money
 5

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