Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Dinner at Qi, House of Sichuan and Lunch at LokCha Tea House

Here are some pictures from two recent meals that I had: a catch up dinner on Sunday night with some friends at Qi, House of Sichuan, a Michelin starred restaurant in Wan Chai, and then a dim sum lunch at the vegetarian restaurant, LokCha Tea House, in Hong Kong Park on Monday afternoon.

On my way to dinner, I saw a most beautiful display of red lanterns at The Avenue, a new apartment complex/mall that has popped up in the past two years.
I had previously been to Qi before, and to be honest, I find it completely mediocre.  Of course, I never pass up the opportunity to eat at a Sichuan restaurant, however, I find that Qi sacrifices everything in favor of spice.  This place is all about the burn factor and they relish throwing chili peppers at their patrons until their poor unsuspecting clientele burn off all of their taste buds and cry mercy.  As we painfully slurped through the food, I joked that eating spicy food is pretty much a depraved addiction - like culinary S&M.
However, Qi is onto something.  This is such a clever business model, because they charge so much money for these huge bowls that consist of nothing but chili peppers (which happen to be some of the cheapest things out there).  They then continue to make money hand over fist because they charge money for precious commodities (rice and water/beer/any beverage) for which their tortured patrons will (given enough time) eagerly pay astronomical amounts.
I mean, this is just a hot mess.
After dinner, we intended to go to Ophelia, a trendy, relatively new swanky bar, for a drink, but it turned out it was closed (it was Sunday night after all).  Instead we went to the bar Djapa, a Japanese Brazilian bar/restaurant.  The pairing is not as crazy as it sounds, given the huge Japanese population in Brazil.

Djapa had a very impressive display of Japanese whisky behind the bar,
 and lots of random anime and color mosaic tiles.
 My friends ordered this weird drink which came in a huge ice bowl shaped like a dinosaur egg.  We spent a bunch of time trying to figure out how they made this mold?  I kept coming up with completely ridiculous theories (but definitely deserve bonus points for creativity).

On Monday, I took an acquaintance to lunch at Lokcha Tea House, located in the sprawling Hong Kong park.  It was my first time there.  I had read really good things about the place, but I found it pretty mediocre and disappointing as well. 

The entry way is fun, with lots of tea accoutrements for sale.
I also like the doorway and shelves (all filled with more tea accessories).

Each person gets to (has to) order their own tea selection, which is pretty pricey.  While it is unlimited refills (each table has a water kettle to ensure you have access to piping hot water for your beverage at all times throughout the meal), the teas range in price from HK$68 to well over HK$400-$500.  We selected a fragrant Oolong and a cooked Puer.  You can see the big difference in color between the two here.
 We ordered a pretty big and random selection of dim sum platters, many of which I missed capturing in photographic form (too busy talking and slurping my tea, not to mention chowing down because I was so hungry!)  The food was okay, I guess, but quite a few items were bland, not particularly flavorful, or else not served hot.  
 Lest you think it was all disappointing, there were some highlights.  The wood ear fungus and cordyceps sesame mixed salad (pictured in the background in the picture above - I know, can you think of a less appetizing name) was pretty flavorful and had a good texture.  The fried sticky rice dumplings with vegetable filling (pictured on the left in the picture below) were fantastic.
 The pea shoot dumplings in soup were good, except that they came kind of cold and waterlogged and sad, so the dumpling skin was falling apart.
 We also ordered dessert, but I found these woefully lacking.  Below are steamed ginger cakes, which were too overpowering for my liking, and my red bean filled pumpkin mochi cake dusted with coconut powder, which was fine but a little bit chewy (such that I could be forgiven for thinking it was stale).

Oh, well, unfortunately both meals turned out to be pretty mediocre.  But you can't always hit the jackpot and at least I finally got to try LokCha!

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