|Taste ||Environment ||Service ||Hygiene |
Value for Money
|Alcoholic Drinks||Phone Reservation||Parking|
Quality hotpot, spicy! Dec 20, 2012
San Xi Lou was actually an "alternate" booking which was made by my friend as we had originally wanted to go to another restaurant in Wanchai. I was originally skeptical, but my friend said this place was decent. My friend was right and we had a good hotpot experience.
Firstly, I must say, I was quite comfortable with the environment, given that 70% of the guests were expats or non-locals (Japanese, etc.) Clearly, the crowd was very white collar, which gave me comfort since hotpot in Hong Kong can sometimes appear "risky" from a hygiene perspective. In fact, my first impression walking into this restaurant raised the same questions. Not that San Xi Lou was dirty, but it certainly was not spotless either. It is clear that this place was not originally designed to be a hotpot place.
San Xi Lou is located at Coda Plaza on Macdonnell Road. So it is actually very convenient for those of us who live around the Mid-levels. It is not a building which is "cool" or "stylish", in fact, it is just the opposite of that. You have to wait a little bit for the elevator and then it takes quite a while to make it to the 22nd floor given the elevator stops at likely every floor in between.
Once we got there, the reception was not very well organised. Even though we had a reservation, we had to wait for 5 minutes for them to clear a table for us. The receptionist was polite and pleasant and so were the other waiters and staff.
Once we got seated, we ordered pretty quickly. Unfortunately, the soup base took a while to come out (more than 10 minutes). Granted, the restaurant was packed full and you could tell the staff were being stretched. Yet at no point were the staff "exhausted" or "cynical" and they all maintained their composure and followed up on orders when we would follow-up with them.
They were sold out of a number of the fresh seafood items which was not great. But once we got going, the food was good. The Beef was pricey, but well balanced and worth eating. We ordered a lobster, which was good. The geoduck could have been more fresh, but still decent. We ordered the pork and vegetable dumplings, which was very good for a hotpot place. Our soup was a half and half with spice and pear. The spice had just enough kick, but not too much to kill the flavour of some of the other items. The presentation of all the hotpot items was very neat and exuded quality.
Maybe because it was Christmas, but everyone else who were eating there were having a good time. Half the tables were eating some kind of Szechuan spicy dishes, which I imagine is pretty good. Assuming that San Xi Lou can maintain its consistency, I would definitely come again and recommend to any "gwai lo" working in Central or living in the Mid-levels who is looking for a decent hotpot experience.
Recommended Dish(es): Beef,Spicy Soup
Table Wait Time: 5 minute(s)
Date of Visit: Dec 19, 2012
Spending per head: Approximately HKD600(Dinner)
Very Spicy Food!! Jun 20, 2012
I came here once before for their spicy hot pot which was really good and I saw that you could order a la carte and not just hot pot so I decided to come back and try. Called ahead that day to make reservations, they have 2 floors so quite a few tables available.
They brought some garlic cucumbers and seaweed when you sit down.
The first dish that came was Water boiled spicy frog legs, i usually order this dish with fish but thought I give frog legs a try.
WHen they bring the dish it is covered in chilies, and the smell of chilies is very strong. They ask you if you want the to skim away the chilies, as it is impossible to eat with all the chilies we asked them to do so. The pot seemed to be bottomless as we kept eating and it didn't look like it moved at all. It's filled with glass like noodles, bean sprouts, pigs blood and bamboo pith.
The dish also comes with a plate of raw thinly sliced cucumbers i'm guessing to cool your mouth down from the spiciness of the dish.
The jelly noodles with spices and cucumber slices. I thought this dish was only so so kind of bland and the spices tasted a bit too much like the chicken dish. I would not order this dish again.
Date of Visit: Jun 07, 2012
Value for Money4
Frequent Visits With My Family! Apr 27, 2012
This place has been a regular with me and my family since it's other location in Causeway Bay was still open quite a few years ago.
Their service is quite swift and good, which is customary to restaurants of this kind. If you can't handle spice, they have a variety of other dishes which aren't spicy, or are mildly spicy. It's clean, it's very efficient, there's always a good atmosphere there and you can tell it's a great place because people bring their foreign friends there all the time.
One other thing I like about this place is that it seems pretty traditional, they have dishes which are common in most Sichuan/Chinese style restaurants like Ma Po Tofu, but also have a good variety of solely Sichuan style dishes. Great for trying Sichuan out for the first time, as well as for experienced palettes!
I've never really had any complaints about this place, other than it's a little off the grid, and it can get quite busy near the weekends for dinner. The quickest way to get there is to just tell a taxi driver to go to McDonell road and turn left at the ParkNShop. Coda plaza should be next to a parking lot down the slope of 28 McDonell road. Reservations are a good idea if you're bringing people to celebrate, I know I've had quite a few family birthday dinners here.
I'm going to list some of my recommended dishes below, so try them and enjoy!
Supplementary Information:- Fish head [We always get both the sauces, green chilli and red chilli]
- Mandarin fish in chilli oil [There's no way we'll eat here without getting this, make sure you ask them to remove the huge pile of chillies when the dish arrives]
- Ma Po Tofu [The best I've ever had]
- Double braised pork with garlic shoots [I can't remember the rest of the name]
- Minced pork and beans [not spicy, but so tasty]
Table Wait Time: 5 minute(s)
Spending per head: Approximately HKD150(Dinner)
Amazing Food!!! Apr 11, 2012
No waiting time as we had to make a reservation. I suggest you call in advance, it´s great for Sichuan food and Hot pot. I love Sichuan food, it´s absolutely amazing for lovers of spicy food
It´s the second time I´ve been to this restaurant and the service with their walki-talki system is extremly fast. While one waiter is at the table taking your order the other one is processing the order and before you know it your drinks and starters are on the table.
It´s located on the 3 and 22 floor of Coda Plaza and serves tipical Sichuan spicy food. Hot pot is served as well although we did not order it.
We ate Sichuan Spicy Boiled Fish (extra hot, if you are not a fan of spicy food, order a lot of white rice, it will help). The taste is amazing though. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Sichuan Friend Chicken
Crab with rice vermicelli
Garlic Friend Shrimp with Pepper - RECOMMENDED!
We also had the barbecue pork and chinese vegetables which was a great contrast to the rest of the spicy food we ordered.
Supplementary Information:Try the Sichuan Fried Chicken with Chilli and the Sichuan Boiled Fish with Chilli (extra spicy!!!)
Recommended Dish(es): Sichuan Fried Chicke,Sichuan Boiled Fish with Chilli
Table Wait Time: 0 minute(s)
Date of Visit: Apr 07, 2012
Spending per head: Approximately HKD300(Dinner)
Value for Money5
SSSSSS! So spicy... Mar 15, 2011
I really liked the 水煮魚 - the spices were yummy and the fish was fresh. It was really spicy, but I still kept eating it The 擔擔麵 was very spicy too. The 豆腐花 tasted fresh as well and was quite special, especially with the meaty sauce.
Staff were helpful, chatty, restaurant was well-decorated.
Overall, very good food quality.
Value for Money3
San Xi Lou Feb 22, 2010
Full review can be retrieved from http://geoffstwitchen.com/?p=1806
Has been frightfully cold during this whole week in Hong Kong & because of this weather, I had to re-arrange my restaurant visits & write ups & what a better timing to write about a Sze Chuan Hot Pot Place on Macdonnell Road. Very rare do you hear people dine out in restaurants in this part of the city in a residential area & there are a grand total of 3 restaurants in Coda Plaza with San Xi Lou (三希樓) as my local favourite. Sze Chuan Cuisine is famed for its extreme flavours in the level of spice & pungency & is the perfect type of meal to enjoy to keep yourself warm in this weather. Not only do they serve up a warm & hearty Sze Chuan Hot Pot, they also serve Dim Sum in the afternoons which I have visited on 2 previous occasions with very consistent quality which is rare for a Dim Sum restaurant in the Central area which is generally crap to say the least. There are 3 important things that I know of the Coda Plaza, one is the Park n Shop whereby it quite possibly has some of the hottest Hong Kong Taitais swiping their black Amercian Express Credit Cards doing grocery shopping, second is San Xi Lou & third, according to a close source of mine, Coda Plaza apparently also contains a high-class entertainment “club” with attractive “working ladies” loitering around during late nights. Interesting source this is & I have never visited & if you have, let us know!
Sometimes, a good meal is not all about just food & drinks on offer & hence this is the reason to my occasional love for hot-pot. The company & atmosphere also plays an important factor in a good meal & only a Chinese New Year gathering with family or a family hot-pot provides such warm cosy atmosphere that definitely beats off the cold weather! Another reason to why I enjoy a hot pot at times is the abundance of high quality of local produce & items on offer. The local fresh beef, local vegetables (King’s Vegetables), local fresh beancurd, local pork & above all, the fish / prawn / pork / squid balls are a true definition of what hot pot is all about. I have never have been a believer in hot-poting Wagyu Beef nor other fancy products as hot pot does not have to be a glam dinner, it just has to been something simple & warm. There are also many other reasons to why I do not like hot-pot aside from the winter season only. I hate to see a cloud of foam in my steam-boat which is all the impurities given out from a mix of food items, not a pleasant & healthy scene this. Secondly, I honestly do not like my slice of beef being cooked in such high temperature whereby the colour of the beef turns grey. Such high temperature cooking only deteriorates the quality & texture of the meat which is not preferable & a desired level of cooking to a piece of beef is to apply low temperature cooking method for the beef to retain its juices & texture. Controlling the amount one consumes from hot-pot is very difficult as everybody that I know tends to over-eat & if you can under-eat during a hot pot, I salute you.
We were seated nearby the window with a great view of Central in front of our eyes. An extensive menu to choose from with authentic Sze Chuan dishes on offer such as Dan Dan Noodles (担担面), Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐), Kung Pao Chicken (宮保雞丁), Water-Cooked Dishes (水煮), Fuqi Feipen (夫妻肺片) etc. I have previously tried the Water-Cooked Beef which was so spicy that I was breathing out flames after the meal which was pulsating yet fun as I always like a bit of a spice challenge. For this visit, the only dish from the a la carte menu which we ordered was the Sze Chuan Saliva Chicken as I love this dish & it is a must order in any Sze Chuan restaurant (see my previous visit to Wen Kui Tsuen in Jordan – http://geoffstwitchen.com/?p=841). This dish was equally as good as the one we had in Wen Kui Tsuen purely because the mala (麻辣) flavour, meaning the hotness & numbness leaves you with such intense aftermath effect on your tongue & lips but above all, the chicken was fresh & with generous portions.
For our traditional Sze Chuan Hot Pot, we chose 2 types of broth which featured a plain Fish Head & Chilli Broth & a Sze Chuan Mala Broth. The fish head & chilli broth was aromatic with a good spice kick even though the colours may not reflect so. For the Sze Chuan Mala Broth, you can also let your waiter / waitress know on your preference in the level of spiciness (Small, Medium & Large Amount of Spice) & we settled for a medium as we had a few diners that I know will pass out from eating a large amount of spice level. When the hotpot arrived at our table, I was frightened off by the colour of the Sze Chuan Mala Broth & it looked like trouble all through the meal. Scary Stuff!
Before kicking off the meal & like any other hot pot, mixing & matching your own sauces is a great form of entertainment before you get tucked into the food. A long table featuring any type of sauce & condiments such as Chilli Oil, Sesame Oil, Shallots, Garlic Paste, Fresh Garlic, Coriander, Fresh Chilli, condiments that can break you in this hot pot experience. I opt for the most ridiculous amount of Chilli Oil, Fresh Chilli, Garlic & Coriander for my deadly mixture, tried a spoonful & it was ACE in the sense that it was 5-star spicy to say the least. If you look at my mixture below, I try not to use too much sauces & oil as it gives you a thirsty & dry throat the next morning as well as it ruins the natural flavour of the food such as the local beef. My magic rule is to fill the sauce bowls with 1/10 of the sauces only so that you can slightly dip your cooked food into the sauce bowl gently to the level that you do not drench your food into the sauces.
Since hot pot is a regular feast for us that live in Hong Kong, I will select a few of my highly recommended food items that you MUST order on your visit to San Xi Lou:
a) Local Beef: Beef is sliced around 5mm thick which is a good thickness for hot pot as the beef shrinks when you cook this in the hot pot. San Xi Lou only uses locally sourced beef which I give them Props on as there is so much flavour to the beef & the local beef in my opinion is best for hot pot. Also, the marble (the layer of fat) is evenly spread in the beef which is surprising & rare for local beef. Such fat only improves the flavour & is extremely delicious when cooked as it also gives it a chewy texture. I am not saying that I do not encourage the use of the soya & chilli sauces for this beef, but remember, only a gentle drop or two so that it gives you a good spice kick & warms you up immediately. If you cook up your beef in the Fish Head & Chilli Broth (the plain coloured broth), the spicy level is nowhere near as intensive as the Sze Chuan Mala Broth therefore, do add a few drops of your pre-mixed sauce for this.
b) Local Pork Slices: I love bacon, who doesn’t & you gotta be mad if you don’t. Don’t get me wrong, this is not rashes of bacon but it certainly looks like a slice of bacon from my photos below. Best part is, I highly recommend this item because when you cook this in a steaming hot pot, the temperature cooks the pork & slowly melts the the layers of pork fat which combining with the broth is a deadly combination. All the juices & broth soaked up by the pork releases so much flavour & taste & simply stimulates one’s taste-buds upon the first bite. Trust me on this as I rarely eat pork during a hot pot but this was quite exceptional!
c) King’s Vegetable (皇帝菜): Another one of my regular favourite type of vegetable, only for hot pot occasions. For those that are not familiar with King’s Vegetable, it is a type of Gong Cai (蒿菜) which was served in the Chinese Royal Palace in the old days. King’s Vegetable has a slightly bitter taste (similar to rocket leaves) when cooked & this is best cooked in the Sze Chuan Mala Broth as the spicy flavours overcome the bitterness. What’s even better, this type of vegetable contains extreme high amounts of nutrients comparing to other vegetables normally eaten in a hot pot & is said to aid digestion & to improve our body’s metabolism. Highly recommended type of vegetable for such hearty hot pot!
d) Deep Fried Fish Skin: Another typical food item that is very Hong Kong when it comes to hot pot & you either love or hate this. Some like it because it is so crispy & flavourful & some hate it because it is extremely greasy & their general dislike towards eating skin. At San Xi Lou, the deep-fried fish skin was extremely hot & crispy when it was first presented on our table. Most importantly, the fish skin was quite well seasoned unlike many other types which I have tried in other hot pot restaurants which in general lacks flavour. Food item like this, I don’t understand why people bother to give this a swirl in the hot pot as the whole point is to enjoy the fish skin whilst it’s crispy & not when it turns soggy.
The other food items which we ordered such as beancurd, American Jumbo Oysters which were not so jumbo afterall, prawn balls, beef tripes were moderate & nothing spectacular which I will not going into too much details on it. General quality of the food items were of good quality & no wonder the restaurant was buzzing with diners throughout the evening with people coming & leaving!
Perhaps the only disappointment on the evening was the dessert which was the Yellow Custard Chinese Bun (流沙奶皇包). This was woeful & if you look clearly at the photos, it was oozing with grease & the yellow custard was more like a filling of yellow custard oil which was quite revolting. My first bite of the bun resulted in a mouthful of yellow oil, that was nasty & San Xi Lou has got some serious work to do on this dessert!
This was certainly a warm dinner & the spicy Sze Chuan flavours rescued us from the cold. San Xi Lou isn’t a bad choice for a hot pot in Central with a spectacular view & I strongly recommend you all to try the Sze Chuan Hot Pot. As I said in my 2nd paragraph, sometimes a critical factor determining on a good meal is the company in which you are with & our company made this meal a very hearty, warm & cosy meal indeed.
Recommended Dish(es): Beef, Saliva Chicken, Pork,
Date of Visit: Feb 09, 2010
Spending per head: Approximately HKD350(Dinner)
Value for Money4