As a newcomer to Hong Kong, there is an overwhelming choice of fantastic restaurants all over the city. Fortunately I was being hosted by my good friend Steve who was in charge of the itinerary & this particular Chinese restaurant happens to be a local favourite of his.
It has a pretty underwhelming exterior. A place that doesn’t shout too loud, in need of a bit of love & almost certainly somewhere people go to on recommendation rather than being attracted by the snazzy, glossy bright lights that define so many eateries around central Hong Kong. I am so glad we weren’t distracted by all that glitz & chose to eat at Manchu. The food is stunning & the eccentric owner & host, Chinese Tom, is an absolute joy.
To be honest, I am not a huge fan of Chinese cuisine, perhaps having had too many fatty, stodgy, poor efforts over the years in London. With the exception of the fantastic Empress in Singapore, I haven’t had much during my time in Asia, still holding on to the experiences of the past. Fortunately, Manchu Bistro has banished all those negative perceptions as they served up dish after dish of wonderful, fresh treats deep in flavour & of a serious quality.
We kicked off with some small sharing plates including the simply titled Chilli Shrimp. Fat, juicy prawns, beautifully cooked & ripping hot, sautéed in lashings of garlic, spice & served up with peppers. So straightforward & so damn good. We also had the Sautéed Aubergine, cooked to a gorgeous sticky texture & served up with those familiar peppers & spice. We had these alongside their most popular dish, the Cabbage Pork Dumplings. Paper thin dumpling, packed with minced pork & a fiery chili pepper dipping sauce. All of it, without exception, wonderful in complex flavour.
At this point Tom wanted to bring what he believed where the best offerings from the kitchen & so we delegated all responsibility to him for the main courses. He didn’t disappoint. We absolutely loved the Beijing Shredded Pork, which held some similarity to the staple of all Chinese restaurants, duck pancakes, but was elevated to another level. After showing us the individual components he then went off to prepare the elements to bring us back these delicious parcels of shredded pork, coriander, spring onions, some sweet magical sauce & a blend of spices. With every parcel offering a couple of mouthfuls, the plate was hoovered up within minutes & we immediately ordered more. Always a good sign.
The other dish he recommended was the Honey Crispy Pork. True to the description the pork was straight from the fryer, perfectly crisp & juicy & served up in a sticky citrus, honey sauce. Whilst it was a pleasure to eat, the sauce was on the aggressive side with lemon so of everything we ate, this was probably the one I enjoyed least. The vegetable dish we had alongside was the Sautéed String Beans which was served with chili & minced pork. Wow. If only greens always tasted that good. Stunning.
Manchu Bistro really is a wonderful place. In a city of such excess, this is a restaurant that is simply about exceptional flavours, simple cooking & all held together with an amazing host that makes you feel right at home. We loved it & would recommend it to anyone.
Manchu Bistro, 33 Elgin Street