New dishes review: Old Bailey, a regional Chinese restaurant in Tai Kwun, Hong Kong
New seasonal dishes and Shanghai-style mooncakes
This past April, I went to Old Bailey for the first time and had a great experience. I’ve been dreaming of the Lion’s Head, Smoked Pigeon, and both the Village-style Handkerchief and Hairy Crab Roe Noodles ever since. Recently I had another chance to visit Old Bailey; this time, to sample some of their new seasonal dishes.
Old Bailey specializes in Jiangnan cuisine which has a sweeter palate and focuses on clean, light flavours. Executive Chef Wong Kwan Man explained there’s a focus on healthy and seasonal eating, especially using fresh ingredients, pickled foods, and fermented condiments like aged vinegars. But fret not, that doesn’t mean all the dishes are light.
We started with the Marinated Japanese Yam ($108). It’s a beautiful dish with a delicate fruity-floral flavour courtesy of preserved plum.
The new Sauteed Garoupa ($780) was one of my favourite dishes of the night. The boneless fish was tender yet firm and accompanied by a lightly oily (in a good way) tapanade-like sauce made of preserved Chinese mustard greens. I figured this one was good for my skin and muscles and happily ate more than my fair share.
While the Ten Treasure Duck ($1,080) may not be the prettiest, it made up for aesthetics with its smell. This is a luxurious take on the classic Eight Treasure Duck dish, with abalone and sea cucumber in addition to the usual eight treasures of Jinhua ham, conpoy, shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, dried shrimp, lotus seeds, glutinous rice and, of course, duck meat. After presenting it to the table, our server whisked it away before serving us cake-like slices. The crispy skin was wonderful, and overall it was both indulgently comforting and easy to eat.
We ended the savoury section of our meal with three types of noodles (oh happy day!). We had the Village-style House Made Handkerchief Pasta with Organic Seasonal Greens ($188) and individual sized bowls of the Hairy Crab Roe Hand-Pulled Noodles ($168 per person) and the new Clams Hand-Pulled Noodles with Chili ($160 per person).
The Handkerchief Pasta is just as comforting as I remember it with fresh and chewy diamond-shaped fried dough and lightly salty-fresh toppings.
This time the texture of the Hairy Crab Roe Hand-Pulled Noodles was slightly softer than I usually like but the rich, ginger-spiked sauce was just as wonderful as last time.
And as for the new Clams Hand-Pulled Noodles with Chili … well, this one had kick! The thin noodles are also made in house and have a wonderful fresh flavour. Fans of sweet and spicy comfort food will enjoy this one.
For dessert, we tucked into Osmanthus and Aged Rice Wine Soup with house-made glutinous rice dumplings ($68 per bowl) and some of Old Bailey’s new Shanghai-style Mooncakes ($238 for 6 pieces). The soup was wonderfully fragrant with a silky texture. And, surprisingly, my favourite mooncake was savoury! It had a crisp and buttery short-crust pastry with a pork sausage-like filling.
Old Bailey continues to serve up classic-with-a-twist Jiangnan dishes in a relaxed atmosphere. I think it’s just as great for a date as it is for a group dinner. Opt for a la carte or one of their new tasting menus which vary from $500 to 800 (a vegan option is available) with optional wine pairing.
2/F JC Contemporary, Tai Kwun, Old Bailey Street, Central, 2877 8711