Restaurant reviews

Inedible cuts of meat and a surly Afrikaner assistant manager at Japanese eatery Roka in Pacific Place bring out the exquisite best of Target founder and editor Raymonde Sacklyn’s inimitable restaurant reviewing style.  

The capital letter, ‘R’, also stands for RUBBISH! 

And that, in TARGET’s opinion, is, exactly, what one gets at ROKA Restaurant

What would Sacklyn make of the Beijing Steamed Dumpling Shop in Austin Road, Tsimshatsui? Stroll too fast, and you would go straight past it – except anyone with a modicum of alertness will automatically stop to admire the lamb pancakes in the window. They will squeeze their way in and find somewhere to sit. The place has four four-person booths and a little folding table with three stools. On my visit, an appropriately severe Hard Stare convinced the book-reading intellectual hogging an entire booth to himself to retreat to the latter.

The button mushrooms [at Ole Spanish restaurant, Ice House Street] were, clearly, sautéed, either by a Chinese or a Filipina/Filipino cook who determined not to prostitute his/her art by bowing to the requirements of Spanish cuisine …

Lastly, this had to have been the oiliest paella in the history of Spain.

From left to right here: pork and pickled cabbage dumplings (made in the corner by the Beijinger owner); two variants of lamb pancake (one with leek), lamb of course being an abhorrence to the Cantonese; and seaweed soup perched behind hot and sour soup with congealed pig’s blood, perhaps to help Hongkongers get the taste of wooly ruminant out of their mouths… 

If this restaurant [Manzo Italian Steak House, Times Squae] continues to sell half-rotten meat, even USDA Prime beef that smells and tastes as though it were fermented bean curd (腐乳), it will not last the season.

The lamb pancakes are the main reason to come to the Beijing Steamed Dumpling Shop. Generous amounts of tasty, tender meat in a fairly light pastry. Maybe half of the output goes out the door in the form of take-away. Like all good, tiny, hole-in-the-wall food places, the cheerful owner has covered a wall with photos of himself posing with hundreds of celebrities you’ve never heard of (plus the inevitable tiresome TV culinary genius who claims to have tried human meat – his picture is in every diner in the Pearl River Delta). Order recklessly enough and two ultimately very stuffed people can rack up a bill for HK$150, and leave with leftover dumplings to take back home to fry, as recommended by Mrs Owner.

Or we can follow the action-packed gastronomic trail blazed by Raymonde Sacklyn and savour not the food but the reviewing skills…

The location of The Pawn Restaurant, at Number 62, Johnston Road, Wanchai, the Hongkong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), is perfect. It faces a very large rubbish dump which abuts a concrete playground and the sounds of Wanchai, with its drunks, pimps and prostitutes lend colour to the listed building that houses The Pawn …

The risotto resembled Scottish porridge, made of rice instead of oats.

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9 Responses to Restaurant reviews

  1. Joe Blow says:

    I always read the resto reviews on Mr. Sacklyn’s website -which shall remain unnamed- just for this kind of stuff. Fortunately I never had the pleasure of meeting this pompous asshole in real life.

    By the way, there are a few folks in Lafayette, Louisiana, USA, who would still like to have a few words with Mr. Sacklyn, with or without the aid of a baseball bat.

  2. Dr No says:

    I love the lamb dumplings there, it’s a frequent Saturday morning walk over to Austin Street to pick up a few of those for brunch. Unbeatable.

  3. Gerald says:

    There are some truly awful restaurants in HK – we took a look at the Pawn, saw what they were serving (and the prices) and took off. Seems like overpaid indiscriminate locals patronise the place who think very ordinary Western food served in this ‘cool’ ambiance is somehow very desirable…
    Just opposite is (was?) the Boston – terrible faux-Western food, dirt cheap and yet, somehow it survived (still survives?) – God knows how!

  4. Stephen says:

    Whoa – A blast from the past. Raymond Sacklyn must be around the same age as our dear beloved Tycoon Uncles 1,2,3 & 4 (alright a tad younger).

    If he can dig up some financial misdeeds of Henry Horse whilst Jimmy Lai concentrates in the horsemans marital misdeeds we may yet scupper his bid for CE once and for all which leaves us with errr CY Leung – yikes !

  5. Sen says:

    The Boston is still going strong, and one of the USPs of the place is that you could sashay out of the Bull and The Bear hop on a tram and be deposited outside The B, in a matter of minutes. You would look a right ninny if you tried that with the Pawn as the doorman only allows in people arriving in their own rickshaws.
    Here is an unbiased review of the Boston- find me one as glowing for The P

    I have been to this restaurant a few times on two separate trips to HK.
    I’m an American and haven’t had a better steak in the US as I have had at Boston. To me, that in itself says it all. The black pepper sauce is to die for! The price and presentation are great as well. Place is a little small, but it is HK! Who’d thought I’d have to fly half way around the world to find the best steak I’ve ever had!?! In China of all places! Almost a shame. Portions weren’t those little “work of arts” that you pay 10 times the amount for at those silly “High Class” restaurants people rave about (I’m not about image or hype). If you want a great steak at a great price, look no further! Can’t say enough about this place other than when are you coming to the US to show us cowboys how it’s done?!

  6. Morgan (capital M, small organ) says:

    hands off Boston !! It’s a Hong Kong institute. Set lunch of borsch (or cream of mushroom), rice with chicken curry (or minute steak) and coffee/ tea for an unbeatable price. It was thus 25 years ago and if you walk in tomorrow at lunchtime it is still exactly the same.

  7. Maugrim says:

    Its funny, the Pawn, The Boston and the Fook Lam Mun, all within spitting distance of each other and each reflecting the various subcultures that exist in HK.

  8. davy jones says:

    Yes Hemlock, an inimitable style, somewhat like that in your political observations.

    As, for Mr. Sacklyn, well, he’s quite right about a lot of the imported meat. Generally, the imported beef from US and OZ is not just crap, it’s bloody crap! No marbling – no taste!

    If you want a taste of beef as it were when I were a lad, then go to a reasonable Japanese place or buy your own Wagyu (either Japanese or Ozzie – the former is superior) beef and cook it at home. Or, if your’e fearful about cholesterol, then don’t eat beef!

    I must admit, Mr. Sacklyn does get it wrong sometimes. I went to the Caprice after reading one of his reviews. The veal at HK$550 was awful!

    And, as for the prices, high turnover is required in HK, just to keep up with the rent. You seldom see many Chinese restaurants closing down.

  9. Lammadonna says:

    Old Raymond doesn’t mince his words does he? I remember him well having worked for him briefly in the early eighties. The office had a blast-proof bunker door and several new-fangled (in those days) close-circuit TV cameras as Raymond was, and probably still is, petrified of having his goalies chopped off by some angry triad/property baron/high-ranking government official (take your pick as he pissed them all off). Lovely bloke!

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