Friday, 13 July 2012

Eating My Way Around Hong Kong Part 2: Ex-Pat and Fusion Food

Life is lovely restaurant in the heart of Hong Kong SoHo for excellent veggie, vegan and gluten free, even some sugar free desserts!

Life has a busy but relaxed vibe, its pretty small and always busy, generally full of ex-pats but its pretty mixed crowd. Decorated a bit like a trendy London boho cafe, although it may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea, there is no pretentious and generally very pleasant. It also doesn’t have the freezer like air conditioning of many places in HK, its comfortable rather than goose bump inducing.

There is actually a lot of choice for gluten free dishes, everything is either vegetarian or vegan. Several dished having both gluten-y and gluten-free versions.

We started with Organic Hummus Dip and organic flaxseed crackers (which had an intense dried tomato flavour), good option for sharing a couple of starters.

I choose the gluten free version of the Capital V Pizza topped with both fresh & sun-dried tomatoes, vegan goats cheese, caramelized onions, roasted garlic and basil pesto. The topping was tasty and delightful, the ‘vegan goats cheese’ was a surprise, nicely tangy - definitely made from tofu. The base tasted good, in terms of texture it was quite thick, yet light and crumbly... What I have come to expect of gluten free pizzas. The wheat pizza bases in contrast were thin and crispy.  

Gluten Free Pizza with Vegan Goats Cheese

Wholewheat Mushroom & Rocket Pizza
I shared a Organic Flourless Chocolate Cake for dessert and good job too as it was very rich - which is a good thing but its difficult to eat it all on your own, the sharp red berry coolie was definitely a great accompaniment. This may also be something to do with the texture, which let it down a bit in MHO, being very dense and a quite dry. I did enjoy it, but it was left me wishing I had tried the sugar and gluten free Organic Chocolate Tofu Mousse Cake. 

Flourless Chocolate Cake
All in all I would recommend Life to anyone who is GF or DF in HK. 

Small, Medium, Large in a Eurasian fusion restaurant with a novel approach to its portions - everything is available in small, medium and large and thus suited to any appetite! We found that a couple of medium size dishes is prefect for a light lunch.  

The fusion of the menu was reflected in mixture of diners, it was busy and a quite noisy with happy eaters, in Times Square, Causeway Bay - on the 11th floor. And this is what I really began to appreciate on this trip. If you only look for food on the ground floor level, you’re going to miss so much. In Hong Kong you always have to look up. The food court in Times Square is in a Sky Scrapper as is also everything else, apart from temples and parks.

From the ‘land’ section of menu we choose crispy pork belly with red cabbage & apple coleslaw - amazing! Being a reformed veggie of about 1.5 years so far (and never going back), my appreciation of pork belly is very new and I was delighted with the thin crispy yet tender SML pork belly. We teamed this with wild rocket with shaved Parmesan & balsamic dressing from the ‘raw & green’ section of the menu, also wonderful. There is definitely a sense of fun that comes through the menu and eating should be fun.

One word of warning, for SML and many other restaurants in HK, service is wagamama style, as in dishes come out when they are ready, without much concern to whether or not everyones food is ready at the same time. It just seems to be the way it is.

If you are just a bit peckish or absolutely ravenous on Hong Kong Island, SML is a good choice, with lots of choice for everyone. 

I was lucky enough to be invited by one of my best friend’s to a traditional (yet modern) banquet their mum was throwing for family and friends in honour of grandchild number 1!  It took place in the rather swanky Shanghai Min, which obviously serves Shanghainese cuisine. It was quite an experience, with an overwhelming number of courses at least 15 of them. There were many fab seafood dishes, although the sea cucumber was a little to exotic for me to finish.
Selection of starters - chicken, ribs bean curd & jelly fish
The Jasmine pudding was light & moussy, sweet and fragment and generally delightful. Every dish looked like a piece of art, in particular the spectacular sugar sculpture - definitely a foodie adventure. 
Jasmine Pudding
Sugar art

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