John Anthony | A chic Cantonese grill and dim sum restaurant in Causeway Bay
A few weeks ago, a friend was in town from Beijing so we decided to catch up over lunch. We settled on Causeway Bay where I work and I thought of John Anthony. It seemed to have enough of a chic factor for a visitor and specialized in local delights. I’d been once before but at that time I’d been more focused on the conversation than the food. I also hadn’t paid … but more on that later.
Located in Lee Garden Three, both the building overall and the restaurant feel extremely modern and brand spanking new. The gorgeous pinks, greens and creams are thanks to local design studio Linehouse who turned the space into an East meets West “British tea hall turned Chinese canteen.” Unsurprising perhaps given John Anthony is named after an influential Chinese trading interpreter during the Qing Dynasty who was stationed in London for 35 years.
During lunch, the restaurant offers both a la carte and dim sum options (dim sum is not available during dinner). My first thought both visits was that the menu was huge! Honestly, I had menu fatigue and both times left the ordering to others.
My only request this time was the Mini Lion’s Head ($110) since I’d recently had an excellent one at Old Bailey and wanted to compare. John Anthony’s version is solid, though the inventive flavour and soft texture of Old Bailey’s wins for me.
From the dim sum menu, we tried the Spicy Pork Soup Dumplings ($55), Free-Range Chicken Siu Mai with Shrimp ($55), and the BBQ Pineapple and Pork Puffed Buns ($65). All of these were fine. They tasted good but weren’t particularly memorable.
The Slow-Cooked Australian Wagyu Beef Cheek with Watermelon and Chili Sauce ($135) is a stunning dish and one of the restaurant’s most popular orders. While the sauce does pack a punch, I think the description sounds much better than the dish actually tastes. I wasn’t that impressed with the texture of the beef cheek. And I found the overall combination of flavours a bit too overwhelming with too many strong flavours competing with one other.
As for vegetables, our server recommended the Romaine Lettuce Clay Pot with Minced Pork, Shrimp Paste and Chili ($145) so we gave it a go. I love potent flavours and ate my weight in shrimp paste when I lived in Singapore, so I was disappointed that this dish was very bland. The shrimp paste taste was light and there definitely wasn’t enough ‘other stuff’ (i.e. non-lettuce items) to justify the high price.
We ended with the Cardamom Portuguese Egg Tarts ($55 for three) because when in Hong Kong. The first two bites were nice and fragrant but then it felt a little cloying.
John Anthony is undoubtedly a beautiful restaurant and the decor would likely impress guests. There were a few business lunches with international guests happening around us when we visited. But for me the taste doesn’t match up especially given the prices. We walked out of the restaurant paying around $400 per head which baffled me given the average fare and basic plating … and slightly embarrassed me since I’ve picked the place. Maybe we could have ordered better this time. On my previous visit I tried a few of the more premium dishes like the Wagyu Char Siu ($280 per 100g) and enjoyed a couple of those. But a restaurant should do things well at all price levels. Overall, I think it’s too pricey a place for me to give it a third chance.
1 Sunning Rd, Causeway Bay, 2898 3788
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