Chinese Dinner at Island Tang, Hong Kong

Alec Torelli checks out Island Tang, an authentic Chinese restaurant in the heart of Hong Kong.
By Alec Torelli

Being rated #2 on Trip Advisor is not an easy task. So it is with high hopes that I seek out Island Tang, an authentic Chinese restaurant in the heart of Hong Kong Central.

Located on the third floor of the Galleria Mall, the restaurant gives a welcoming first impression. I arrive early for a 8:00 pm reservation. I’m seated immediately and tended to by several of the staff, whom recommend me their two signature dishes and offer to combine them. Let the feast begin.

First on the list, a crispy rice paper roll with pork belly and vegetables. I grab, dip and crunch. It’s fluffy and has a light, flaky texture with a warm center. Delicious. The sauce, served on the side, gives me mixed feelings. It’s watery, almost soupy, even though the flavor is good. I toy with it until it’s finished. Pan fried minced pork patties with lotus root and salty fish are presented like small circular discs. The root tastes as weird as it sounds. It’s grainy outside and it has a layer of fried cabbage, rather plain and uneventful. Even with the sauce, this dish is doomed.

The crispy Wagyu beef cheek makes me rethink my distaste for fried food. Tangy and sweet, because of the decorated caramelized onions, these little treats are gone in seconds.

Afterwards, a wok fried crystal prawn ball arrives, doused in lobster sauce. For 268 HKD ($34) I expect to be dazzled. I taste it. Rubbery and slimy like calamari, I wrestle even to cut it. I try to convince myself otherwise, but the truth is it’s bland. The fact that it’s diluted in sauce offers little help. At best, it’s like putting a band aid on a knife wound.

Undeniably, a few things are good. Yet I have some qualms with the place. Even with four dishes, the portions are too small and I leave unimpressed and overcharged. When I spend 733 HKD ($94), I shouldn’t be hungry when I’m finished. Even though I can still eat, I don’t bother ordering dessert.

Thinking back, some things were noteworthy: the service and ambiance were impressive and quite pleasant to admire. But it was like watching a capable sport team playing a poor game. The search continues…

Island Tang, Shop 222, The Galleria, 9 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong www.islandtang.com

Alec Torelli

It all started when he was 10. He was distraught about moving, but the man next door welcomed him with a huge styrofoam box of ice cream. Fourteen years later, he moved to Italy and fell in love with gelato, which inspired his first writings about food. Since then, his passion for culinary art has done nothing but grow. On a mission to find the world's best gelato, he travels, eats and writes for Still Served Warm.

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