Thursday, 3 May 2012

Central eats: Nha Trang / Rabbithole / Kau Kee

Ma and Ba Chan planned an impromptu trip back to Hong Kong last month and managed to twist my arm to go along with them for a couple of weeks - a hard life but someone has to do it :)

My bro and Jools have now been living in HK for almost a year now and were more than happy to provide recoms for places to eat, especially in their local stomping ground of Central. First port of call was Vietnamese eatery, Nha Trang on Wellington Street in Central (they also have 2 other restos, in Wanchai and Ocean Terminal in TST. My bro had warned that we should get there early (ie. before midday) since Nha Trang don't take reservations and to avoid the lunchtime onslaught. 11:50am and there was already a queue forming outside but luckily for us, we were seated as soon as they opened. The weather in HK is pretty hot at the moment so I plumped for the daily special pork jowl (豬頸肉) bun - we also shared some Vietnamese spring rolls and soft shell crab summer rolls. Very tasty fare and as usual, we ordered too much :)
The queue at 12:30pm outside Nha Trang

Oops! Forgot to take pic until my last few bites!

My bro then took me and Ba Chan to nearby Rabbithole for a quick coffee (he thought it would be interesting for me to take a look now that I am an aspiring barista plus Rabbithole was featured in the Timeout HK special food issue). Rabbithole is pretty hip and offbeat for HK standards - whilst we were there, the cafe was being used for a photo shoot. I had originally wanted to try an Ethiopian filter but was told they didn't have any which was a bit of a bummer. I settled for a double espresso of the same bean......I've come to realise that coffee (like wine) is very subjective and on this occasion, the espresso was not to my taste. Too bitter and no complexity of flavour, taste and mouthfeel compared to what we drink in London but who knows? It might suit the local market.....
Trying to perfect the killer shot of........powdered chocolate being sprinkled on a cappuccino!

Forgot the machine they were using but its the first time I saw a group head without 2 spouts?

I met my good friend D on my first night back in town and she took me to a "secret" bar in Central where entry requires pre-booking a table. No pictures are allowed once inside so that it retains its "exclusivity" and "secrecy", I guess? The place was only half full and apparently is owned by 洪金寶's son, 洪天明 (which pulls the HK slebs?) It was a nice place to hang out and catch up, D wanted to me to try the grilled cheese sandwich which has been proclaimed by some in HK to be of "Michelin star quality"!!. Indeed, it was a very tasty sambo but not sure about the Michelin claims..
Business card from "secret" club - address and phone number at the bottom 

We finished off the evening with a quick trip to famed beef noodle joint, Kau Kee (九記牛腩). We shared 2 bowls of noodles, one with plain 牛腩 and the other with curried 牛腩. The curried 牛腩 was super-tasty but a little too spicy for me.....if I were to go back, I would probably go back for a bowl of plain noodles with just a bowl of curried 牛腩 on the side :)

Nha Trang (芽莊越式料理)
88-90 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 2581 9992

Rabbithole Coffee and Roaster
2/F, 26 Cochrane St., Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 2581 0861

Kau Kee Restaurant (九記牛腩)
G/F, 21 Gough Street, Central

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