Friday, June 03, 2011

As Easy As ABCs - ABC Kitchen

Early June (Sunny)

ABC Kitchen might be just a stall among the many at Queen Street hawker centre in Sheung Wan, and yes, it might look odd to you,having to share space with its neighbour Tsang Kee, a well-known Chiuchowese stall selling Chiuchewese 'Kwe's, but it is a stall with big dreams. It serves dishes usually served only in more 'authentic' western restaurants; it lines tables with checked tableclothes; and it cooks good food. Like seriously good ones. I was lucky enough to be invited to a foodies' gathering to taste some of its specialties, including the signature roasted suckling pig.

To be honest, I ate there once a year ago and the meal was on the negative side. The food was okay but they failed to 'wow' me. Yet since they change their menu on a regular basis, lets see if the food tonight would make me go 'wow'.

Thanks to the foodies who brought along some fine bottles of wine and also juices. They had certainly helped to push up the atmosphere of the night a lot!:)

After ordering, we were served with three baskets of herb buns. I remembered they baked their own bread. They turned out to be worse than what i had last time, being completely tasteless. They smelt great of herbs but you could hardly detect it with your tastebud. The only 'up' side was that it was at least nicely toasted instead of cool and stone-hard. The butter that came with it tasted bland, so bland that i thought it was plain oil or salt-free margarine! What a bad beginning of the feast i was so looking forward to.

Then came the Avocado-crabmeat Gazpacho. It was a new dish to me as i had not had chilled soup before.

It was quite a scene when five big bowls of soups hit the table almost the same time-they basically took up every inch of it! Anyway, we shared one among two persons so the portion was cut half (much more reasonable then). The soup was thick in texture and there were lumps of vegetable mushes in the orange soup, garnished with drops of olive oil and chives, and in the midst was a heap of crab meat mixed with avocado. I dont usually eat avocado but i felt justified to do so cus of the crab meat! Upon mixing the meat into the soup it gave it a creamy white tint. The soup was not exactly smooth but was pretty strong in flavour, and thank god it was chilled or else it would be painful to drink in the hot summer! Somehow it reminded me of the tomato sauce of tinned sardine fish - perhaps they shared similar ingredients. The crabmeat was creamy and fresh. Delicious!

Next was the Salt Cod Cake with Seared Scallops - basically a fish croquette  with a petite salad.

I like how the croquette was full of flakes of cod meat instead of mixed with annoying mashed potatoes, unlike the Portuguese bacalhau or the Japanese potato croquette. It tasted nice of seafood but was quite bland in texture. The dipping didnt help. It would be better if it was mixed with some chopped pickles or onion. The scallops was quite bland on its own but if you eat it with the cod cake, the blandness of the fish would make the freshness of the scallops more outstanding. So i guess that's how different ingredients compliment each other - although more could be done.

Next came the suckling pig. They presented us the whole pig only for photographic purpose, and brought it back to a full finish.

Four big plates of suckling pig and roasted beets and potatoes, the most anticipated dish of the night, finally came.

The pig (Roasted Suckling Pig served on a Roast of Red Beets and Kipfler Potato, according to the menu) was good - like really good. The skin was roasted to achieve absolute crispiness and they cracked loudly, but you could see oil rushing out under the skin. But who cares? :P The skin was as crispy as potato chips, only much better flavoured and juicy. Even the meat was very, very tender and flavourful. Flakes of the meat resembled smoked and pulled pork but they were less salty of course. The roasted beet was extremely juicy and sweet, while the potato was pretty mushy yet not too filling. Yet one serve of the pig was big and I stopped at one and a half piece for bodyweight's sake - although i craved for more!

Next was the seafood paella,a discontinued dish only prepared upon special request - i must have done something good to get to try this:D:D I had not had paella but risotto before, and it was slightly different from what I had in my mind. A different kind of rice was use, being slightly longer in grain than the short and fat Arborio rice in risotto; the texture was also less creamy but equally rich. The yellowish rice had a strong flavour of seafood and was very aromatic-was it because of the saffron?  I especially like the bits of juicy and oily sausages which were very,very tasty! The grilled seafood were also nice - i think ABC is especially good at grilling stuff as the grilled prawn had a charcoal-roast smell which i like. The rest of the seafood were also fresh and lovely - what a pity that i was already full halfway through the meal!

How do you call the time after entrees? Dessert time - the second-most exciting time of the night.  Five desserts were available and we had one of each, so I - a greedy foodie - could try them all - muhahhahahahaha!

Rhubarb Cheesecake - rhubarb is something i am unfamiliar with, but i had tried a rhubarb yogurt which was really sour (and i ended up throwing it away), so i was reluctant to try the dessert. It turned out to be different from what I had anticipated. The cheesecake tasted like tofu cheesecake, being more moist, equally packed in texture but less heavy when compared to American cream cheesecakes. The rhubarb compote was not really sour, but i would substitute it with other fruits as it was, surprisingly, quite bland. A strawberry compote would go better with the cheesecake. What i liked best was the base made of digestive biscuits, being buttery and crumby. That's how a nice cake base should be like - contrast this with that in the espresso cheesecake at Green!

Chocolate mousse look modest and simple: yet it tasted more than it seemed to be. The mousse was rich of cocoa flavour and mixed with bits of crunches, enriching the texture (unlike the boring cod cake). The raspberries on top helped balance the sweetness and heaviness. It was DELICIOUS!

Creme Brulee is my newly discovered lover, as i usually preferred cheese- or chocolate- based desserts over egg-based ones. This had a nicely flamed caramel top which cracked as the spoon hit, but it could be even thinner. The custard was rich of egg and cream - slightly richer than what i liked, and one spoonful was enough for me. Luckily we shared it among a big crowd!

Grand Marnier Souffle - I am not really fond of hot souffles but gave it a try anyway. The texture was spongy but not light enough; there were still grains of sugar in it, too large and detectable to be my like. The flavour was not strong enough too, and one could easily mistaken it for an orange souffle.

Last was the Pavlova - an enormous heap of meringue topped with lots of fresh fruits and passion fruit sauce. I tried this dessert once or twice before at Wildfire and they were quite dry and tough. This was a lot different as it was not only softer but also less sweet. The exterior was just a little crispy, and the interior was relatively more spongy and light. Passion fruit sauce was the perfect sauce to it as any other would be too heavy to go with the light pavlova - and i enjoyed how the seeds of passion fruit cracked in my mouth. Together with the fresh fruits it was the perfect end to the feast at ABC's Kitchen.

Has the meal changed my impression on this little stall at Queen Street hawkers' centre? Definitely. Generally speaking, what i tasted that night were better than those i had a year ago, the pig in particular. It is now literally A Better Cooking Kitchen, and i really appreciate how it updates and refines its menu regularly. Even better if it would improve on its homemade herb buns, and keep the delicious seafood paella and dessert tasting platter on its menu please - they are definitely too nice to be discontinued! :)

ABC Kitchen
Shop 7, Food Market, 1 Queen Street , Sheung Wan
Mon-Sat: 12:00-14:30, 18:30-22:00
Sun: 18:30-22:00
***Reservation recommended:9278 8227***

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