In light of COVID-19, we encourage diners to take precautions when going out. You can also support your favourite restaurants by getting takeaway and delivery.
The newest Moon Lok branch opened its doors this month at Tsim Sha Tsui’s Mira Place, adding to the two restaurants under the same brand at Citygate in Tung Chung and West Kowloon’s Xiqu Centre.
Owned and operated by Buick Management, whose name is synonymous with quality Chiu Chow cuisine, the new restaurant features delectable dishes created by Group Executive Chef Hui Mei-Tak.
Buick Management, which also owns Pak Loh, is a household name for quality Chiu Chow cuisine, with over 60 years of culinary expertise, opening its first eatery in Causeway Bay in 1967. The Moon Lok brand offers the same standard of delicious Chiu Chow fare, but with more mass appeal.
Stepping into Moon Lok at Mira Place, we had a déjà-vu moment, before realising that we had visited the venue before in its former life as Chateh. The Chateh concept, also owned by the same restaurant group, underwent a transformation into this new Moon Lok offering.
Like most Chiu Chow meals, ours began with a soy platter ($118) layered with pork belly, cuttlefish, hard-boiled egg, tofu and the eatery’s signature goose. The proteins are brined in an aromatic soy concoction infused with dried orange peel, star anise, garlic, ginger and cinnamon. Our favourites were the egg and goose, especially when steeped in the accompanying vinegar-based dip.
The double-boiled bird’s nest soup in papaya ($300) had us scratching our heads – it was neither savoury nor sweet. Just by perusing the ingredients, we thought this dish could be a dessert, as both papaya and bird’s nest are popular ingredients in Chinese sweets. However, the soup was merely a textural experience and devoid of taste. We originally thought we could spoon away some of the flesh from the papaya to add more flavour to the soup, but the fruit was hard and unyielding. This dish is a missed opportunity, in our view, as the ingredients could be used to make a soothing, revitalising dish.
If the bird’s nest papaya soup was a disappointment, the crispy-skin sea cucumber with crabmeat and pomelo peel was a delicious redemption. A traditional Chiu Chow ingredient (and a great zero-waste initiative!), pomelo skin is slow-cooked to a slightly spongy, fork-tender consistency and topped with dried shrimp eggs. The thick, porous nature of the citrus peel soaks up all the cooking liquids, making for deliciously flavourful bites. This sea cucumber veers away from the traditional sauce-drenched presentation and instead has a crispy crust thanks to flash-frying. The crisp skin gives way to sticky, collagen-rich flesh underneath, which, on our visit, was thoroughly imbued with the crabmeat sauce. This is a winning dish that we still dream about days afterwards. This dish is offered alongside the pepper crab vermicelli pot as a combo at $840.
The pepper crab with vermicelli ($538) was definitely worth all the hassle of deshelling the crustacean. The sweet, meaty crab was infused with the flavour and fragrance of cracked white peppercorn, which also provided plenty of exhilarating heat. The vermicelli underneath soaked up the peppercorn sauce as well as the umami crab flavours, making this dish a memorable standout.
Tossed in minced garlic, crab juice and cracked white peppercorn, the vermicelli was flavour heaven.
A sweet finish was provided by a classic Chiu Chow treat: fried taro batons coated in crispy sugar ($78). The piping-hot dominoes had a crunchy, sugary crust and a velvety interior. Utterly addictive.
If you’re craving Chiu Chow food, Moon Lok would definitely hit the spot, although it lacks some of the finesse that its sister restaurant brand, Pak Loh, offers. However, we’ve had variations of the sea cucumber dish and taro dessert at Pak Loh, and both were just as expertly executed at Moon Lok. Other than the bland bird’s nest papaya soup, the other dishes certainly warrant a swift revisit.
Shop 405, 4/F, FoodLoft, Mira Place One, 132 Nathan Road, TST, 2157 9949
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
For more reviews like this, like Foodie on Facebook