Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Numero Uno

Last week the lovely Jeff took me to Nanhai No. 1 at the top of Tsimshatsui's i-Square mall. Normally our "press lunches" devolve into a session of gossip and girl talk, sometimes at the expense of the food enjoyment, but luckily for this Chinese seafood restaurant, its excellent nosh made enough noise that it couldn't be ignored.

Nanhai No. 1 is undoubtedly going to explode as a tourist destination thanks to its fantastic views through ceiling-to-floor windows, and it's literally down the street from Aqua so shares almost the same stunning perspective, except that it also looks directly into The Peninsula's Felix. And, because the restaurant takes on a nautical theme, there are token-operated binoculars that may or may not allow you to look into Felix's legendary men's bathroom...

Gimmicks aside, Nanhai does really good Chinese food with a focus on animals of a marine persuasion, many of which are displayed through a glass window where the chefs work. Standout dishes include the crispy shredded yam (HK$38), a started that combines a crunchy texture with a lingering sweet tanginess that's quite unique; and the crispy and steamed rice served in lobster consomme ($128, serves four), a must-try. They fry crispy rice and pour it into the heated soup-rice mixture table-side, so you get to watch the sizzle, crackle and pop before you taste the pretty divine combination of rice textures drenched in that heavy, sexy consomme.

In the same venue but to the side, there's Eye Bar, the restaurant's cocktail area, which also encompasses a balcony that would have the potential to become the Sevva of TST, if only it were a bit bigger.

There are also a handful of private booths for small parties, which is nice, as well as round booths a la Wasabisabi.

And upstairs, for the really fancy, is the sister restaurant Guo Fu Lou, which is operated by a restaurant manager and chef who both worked at Fook Lam Moon for over a quarter of a century, each. It's much deeper and more muted and serious than its lower-level compatriot, with only a handful of tables but a dedicated wine cellar and nine private rooms with minimum charges of I think $8,000 (which really, is nothing for the typical Fook Lam Moon crowd). Guo Fu Luo is so cocky, they're not allowing press in to do shootings or tastings, which is really the way to go to establish a name -- good or bad. But my curiosity is certainly piqued. I'd go try it on my own dime, if I weren't still dreaming about that crispy rice soup...

Check out the rest of the food shots below.

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