For the past few weeks I found myself having group dinners at restaurants skillfully disguising themselves as more chic in style and more contemporary in food when compared to their parent company. I am not a stickler on absolute tradition or authenticity, but I believe that "fusion" should be done to improve the taste of the food rather than the reverse, albeit all the efforts to enhance the appearance or appeal. So how many restaurants are really successfully in finding the balance of modern chic and deliciousness
Browsing through the menu of Jasmine 八月花
is actually quite entertaining, since it has such beautiful portrays of their signature dishes. I have been to Jasmine quite a few times, for dim sum and for dinner, so I was fully aware of the small portions and decided to order a few more dishes to sample. I have always enjoyed their appetizerBBQ Suckling Pig 脆皮BB 豬
, which came with four pieces of crispy suckling pig ribs and some mesclun salad. Although this time the meat was a little chewy, the skin remained crispy like crackers. Definitely one of the better dishes of the night.
Things quickly turned downhill after. The Marinated Sour Lotus Root with Red Date 酒香酸蓮藕 was immersed in a pool of cloyingly sweet syrup (桂花?) with no discernible wine flavor.
Apparently the “syrup” was just poured in before serving as the sourness of the lotus root was not in anyway integrated with the sauce. This plate was left untouched after one bite! The Crispy Fried Beancurd 椒盬脆豆腐 was indeed crispy outside and silky inside,
but where was the seasoning? How could the fried garlic taste so timid? Somehow the Master Soy Stock Marinated Egg and Tofu 鹵水蛋豆腐
became normal by comparison, but was by no means outstanding, despite the intriguing “Master Soy Stock” in its name.
After a pretty long wait one of our entrees, the Pan Fried Scrambled Egg with Crab Meat 蟹肉玉子燒
arrived. A direct comparison with the Japanese kani tamagoyaki might not be fair, but how could you not with that presentation, especially with the hajikami (the pickled ginger stalks)? The deep yellow colored egg was soft yet surprising weak in egg flavor, and the crab meat was just a batch of tasteless shredded meat (sort of remind me of canned crab meat) . More appalling was the strawberry sauce on the side, which didn’t belong anywhere on this dish and an utter failure of fusion attempt
. At $90 I really shoud have saved the money and went to 一門 for this dish instead
The Fried Cod Fish with Spicy Sauce on Crispy Rice 鍋巴醬爆銀雪魚
was a big disappointment as it was suggested by the waiter as one of their signature dishes. The dish was lukewarm when arrived, and the cod fish, a fish that I thought could hardly be overcooked, was fishy and totally dry! Undoubtedly low-quality frozen cod fish, so thin that no matter how you cook them they would turn out dry and dreadful
. It was so bad that Triple O’s new cod fish sandwich actually trumped this dish by miles (and I am not kidding!)
After a series of unsatisfactory dishes, our last two dishes didn’t come until half an hour later as the waiter obviously missed the orders of both. The Flaming Veal Shank with Chestnut and Red Date in Whisky Tomato Sauce 火燄威士忌栗子紅棗燴牛仔膝
luckily came before we were starved to death and it turned out to be the best dish of the night. The enormous veal shank consisted of fat, tendon, and meat was very tender, easily cut through with a knife. The thick sauce with chestnuts and dates, while not exceptional and lacking any whisky flavor, went well with white rice (or perhaps we were just too hungry at that point)
. This was the only dish that we could polish off the entire plate.
The last dish, Steamed Asparagus with Pumpkin Sauce 蘆荀伴南瓜醬汁
, did not come until we asked for the fourth time and more than an hour after we placed the order
. Then I realized two of the same dishes were brought out by the waiter, so apparently they wouldn’t cook it until multiple orders of the same dish were placed.
No wonder some dishes came so slow despite easy preparation. And this dish was just unmemorable, with skimpy toothpick-sized asparagus swimming in bland pumpkin sauce
. Forget about it.
While we were waiting for the asparagus, we ordered two bowls of dan dan noodles 擔擔麵
which somehow were ready in 3 minutes. The noodles were cooked fine and the broth was strong in peanut taste, though weak in spiciness.
We ended the meal with two desserts, the Tofu Mousse Cake with Blueberry Sauce 豆腐慕絲蛋糕藍莓汁
and The Mango Three Ways 芒果三弄
. These two dishes were the closest to the images that they portrayed in the menu among everything we ordered, and they met our expectation flavorwise. The tofu mousse cake was of the right custardy texture
, but the blueberry sauce was unable to rescue the slightly bitter taste from the tofu. The mango dessert, consisted of mango pancake, purple sticky rice with mango, and mango and sago sweet soup (芒果班戟+黑糯米+楊枝甘露) was the best of the bunch with each component full of mango flavor
Among my numerous visits to Jasmine, this had to be the most disappointing one. Based on my past experiences, I would have probably given them a smiley face or ok face. It seemed that the blend of appearance and fusion flavor was much better balanced in the past while nowadays the focus was shifted too much to presentation alone. The “fusion” flavors were no longer unified and became “confusion” to my palate instead.
The service was down right horrible and really ruined the dinner. I know this would be my last visit to Jasmine, as least for dinner. I hope they can at least maintain their dim sum quality, or else this resaturant will really become a place of gimmicks rather than food.
正: 脆脆BB 豬
差:酒香酸蓮藕, 椒盬脆豆腐, 鹵水蛋豆腐
脆皮BB 豬, 火燄威士忌栗子紅棗燴牛仔膝,芒果三弄
Spending per head: Approximately HKD220(Dinner)Other Ratings:
Value for Money 3