There's the old adage "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade".
Living in Southern California, we are totally spoiled by / blessed with beautiful weather almost year-round - so when it's uncharacteristically cold and rainy (i.e. a "harsh winter day" - a shameless abuse of the phrase which induces groans and eye-rolls from my brother, a Montreal resident) like today - I consider it a 'lemon day'. With a half day off in anticipation of the three-day Presidents' Day weekend - and weather providing strong incentive to curl up and stay in, I realized I can take my 'lemon day' and squeeze some blog posts out of it! Time to catch up on some of my recaps of meals from my most recent trip to Hong Kong.
After lunch at Prince Restaurant, my parents and I decided to head to a shopping center/office complex in Causeway Bay called wtc more to walk off all that we had ingested earlier in the day, before dinner at Dragon King Restaurant.
The wtc more shopping center is notable for its massive Muji and Uniqlo stores, purveyors of Japanese, decent quality-low priced, deliberately non-branded fashions (plus home/office goods/snacks from Muji) for the masses. This time around, I caught the end of the Uniqlo post holiday sale, and scored 2 sweaters, 1 belt and 1 scarf for less than $50 US!
This time my mom told a fascinating tale of fame / fall and redemption that starred the chef of Dragon King - Mr. Wong Wing Chee or "Brother Chee". Apparently Brother Chee used to be a master chef at the top of his game at Hong Kong restaurant staple Lei Garden (now Michelin starred). He immigrated to Australia, somehow picked up a gambling habit, lost everything he had, was shamed with desperate pleas to friends and family for money - and ultimately very publicly fired from his job.
Broke and hopeless, he decided to go home to Hong Kong. On the way back he vowed to quit gambling and work hard to put his real talents to work and to win back his spot at the top of the restaurant food chain. And he managed to pull himself up by his proverbial bootstraps - going from flat broke to now head of a prestigious, award winning restaurant chain, published author of numerous cookbooks, and a celebrated TV personality with his own cooking/travel shows!
According to my mom, Brother Chee's rise to fame the second time around involved creative takes on traditional Chinese dishes, using unique ingredients or combinations to produce unique dishes.
With all that context, I was intrigued to try Dragon King again.
We started our meal, as most Chinese meals do, with soup. This was one I'd never seen though - Coco de Mer Stewed Coral Crab Soup (HK$178 for enough to serve 2 people ~US$23) - coconuts 'of the sea' (native to Seychelles) boiled with crab, dried scallops, and chicken feet. The broth was savory and sweet at the same time, yet clear and refreshing.
Crocodile meat, from memory, tastes like chicken but a lot tougher with a more fibrous texture - but we had no idea what to expect of crocodile tail. It arrived in a claypot stew - and at first we mistook it for sea cucumbers, another entree we had ordered. The tail was cut up into small pieces and tasted like thick bricks of congealed gelatin. Even with crunchy mushrooms for counterbalance and a rich flavored sauce base - I still thought the texture was overwhelming and not something that we would personally want to eat again. But Mom and I were still glad to have tried it - now we can have an informed opinion about this dish.
Sabah and loving all the amazingly fresh seafood there - we thought we'd give the Butter Salt Baked King Prawn (HK$128 each ~US$16) from this menu a try. The reason we got it, turned out to be exactly the reason we shouldn't have ordered up this dish - our expectations were way too high, and the prawns afterall did have to be flown in and of course could not possibly be as fresh as having them in Sabah a short time after they are pulled out of the ocean.
The breading was also a bit soggy...too bad.
Though we did not have an incredible experience with this particular meal, memories of the great dim sum we'd had previously, along with the extensive menu still to be tasted, as well as the inspired starter and dessert, beckons us to come back for another try some other time (and next time I think I'll entrust the ordering to my mom). Though backstory aside, between the King and the Prince in terms of the meals themselves - I much preferred the Prince.
On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 5.5 bites
Presentation - 5 bites
Originality - 5 bites
Ambience - 6 stars
Service - 5.5 stars
Overall experience - 5.5 bites
Price - $$$ (3 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 90%
Dragon King Restaurant
12/F World Trade Center 280 Gloucester Rd., Causeway Bay, Hong Kong