Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Monogamous Chinese, Hong Kong (Alissa and Don Eat Asia Day 2, Part 4)

Planning an eating excursion to some of the more popular places in a country requires a lot of forward planning. Of course there are a lot of places you can just kinda wander into without a problem,but if its got a Michelin Guide recommendation (especially a Bib Gourmand or a star rating) its a bit riskier leaving it up to chance.

Our first dinner reservation was at The Monogamous Chinese, a restaurant specialising in Sichuan and Peking cuisine and located under the Mid-Level Escalators in Hong Kong's hip Soho district. Monogamous has been awarded a Bib Gourmand by the Michelin Guide, denoting that its a restaurant that provides good food at an excellent value for money price and can sometimes be a precursor to a Michelin Star.

Heading there from the G&T Cocktail Bar was an easy and straightforward journey on the Mid-Levels, though Monogamous is a little tucked away if you don't know what you're looking for.

The small but comfortable restaurant's d├ęcor is charmingly hip – filled with playful, kitschy pop art focusing largely on Communist iconography seen through the prism of late capitalism. The best of these artworks was a portrait of Chairman Mao made out of collected business cards. 

Perusing the extensive menu, we noticed that the restaurant marked off their signature dishes with a star. This was very helpful in making decisions about what to order and we ended up ordering an entire meal of their signature dishes.

The first of two appetizers to arrive was the Deep Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls with Sweet & Sour Sauce. The presentation was excellent – served in a mug standing upright, the thin spring rolls resembled breadsticks more than spring rolls. Spring rolls in Australia are often disappointingly frozen mass productions, so it was refreshing to try the 'real' thing. These were amongst the best I've had, the thinness aiding its crispiness and yet not scrimping on the filling inside. Definitely a good start. 

Keeping with the deep-fried theme, our next appetizer was the Deep Fried Tofu with Spicy Salt and Crispy Garlic. As with the previous dish this was fantastic, with the tofu exterior nice and crispy with a melt in you mouth smooth interior. The spice salt and crispy garlic added more flavour and additional crunch.

We decided on sharing three mains, and the first to arrive was the best – Pork Spare Ribs in House Black Vinegar Sauce. So, so good. Swine has got to be one of the tastiest of animals, and there is nothing better than some juicy pork ribs dripping with treacly thick sauce all over them. Though of course trying to eat pork ribs with chopsticks and not make a mess is not particularly easy, but then again when is eating pork ribs an easy task? This vinegar sauce would give any American barbecue joint a run for its money, and this is definitely a dish to go back for.

Sauteed Tiger Prawns in Spice Kung Po Sauce came next. This tasted a lot like honey chicken but with prawns instead, and with Sichuan peppers thrown in. Since Alissa and I both like honey chicken, we liked this dish too, though I feel that unless you took a bite of a sichuan pepper at the same time, the prawns were not spicy enough. I'd read that some of the dishes at Monogamous are perhaps a bit toned down for their largely expat clientele, and perhaps this was the case with the Tiger Prawns.

While the Tiger Prawns might have been toned down a bit, the same could not be said about the Deep-Fried Black Boned Chicken in Diced Sichuan Chili and Peppers. This was incredibly hot – a basket full of chicken buried deep in outrageous quantities of Sichuan. The chicken was very tasty, however since this was a drier dish we probably would have liked it a bit earlier in the evening rather than at the end, or perhaps we should have ordered something else that had a bit of sauce to it to go instead.

We tossed up whether or not to get dessert as the fried ice cream here is supposed to be excellent, but we were so full we decided we needed to go for a walk before we ate anything else.

The Verdict: Excellent
With its stylish and modern interior and delicious Sichuan and Peking food, The Monogamous Chinese is a great pick for a meal in the Soho district. Monogamous is also great value for money, fully earning its Bib Gourmand status.

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