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First opened over a decade ago, Lai Sun Dining’s Old Bazaar Kitchen has always been based somewhere in Wanchai. Back in December 2016, it moved to its latest home on Cross Lane with a more sophisticated design featuring light wood panelling, photographs of old Hong Kong and a few Southeast Asian touches.
Despite only hearing good things about it (and always seeing it packed when we’ve passed by at lunchtime), Old Bazaar Kitchen flew under the radar for us. But we’re so glad we finally tried it, and in doing so, we found a go-to spot when we’re craving a taste of Singapore and Malaysia.
Executive Chef Billy Chung has a distinct style, merging local and Southeast Asian flavours. We tried a feast of dishes, and here are some of the highlights:
This chilled drunken foie gras in Chinese yellow wine ($150/½ or $290/full) with crispy cracker was surprisingly one of our favourites. Though the cheese crackers were enjoyable on their own, we preferred eating the foie gras solo so that we could appreciate the unique, slightly sweet flavour that the aromatic wine imparted.
We’re not normally that keen on Malaysian-style bak kut teh with its strong medicinal taste, but this Chiu Chow-style bak kut teh ($488 for 4) was a winner – light, peppery and nourishing. It’s simmered with fall-off-the-bone pork ribs, which we loved gnawing on, along with whole heads of garlic that add a natural sweetness. Old Bazaar Kitchen’s bak kut teh is served with Chinese fried dough sticks, which are ideal for dunking in the soup.
Cereal prawns are a classic Singaporean dish, and Chef Chung makes them his own in the crispy cereal-coated stir-fried prawns in Malaysian Nyonya style (market price), which are coated with salted egg yolk before being crusted with cereal and fried. The plump prawns were perfectly cooked – juicy and bouncy – and were a great match for the rich and sweet-savoury salted egg yolk.
Here we have everyone’s SE Asian fave: Hainan chicken rice. This boneless Hainanese chicken with herb-steamed rice in clay pot ($350/½ or HK$650) was a standout. We’re lazy, so we appreciated not having to do any work deboning the tender chicken, but it was the oil-free rice that particularly took our fancy. Fragrant from the addition of lemongrass, the rice was absolutely moreish, and we mixed in some of the accompanying spring onion relish to make it even more so.
The deep-fried giant grouper belly with Nyonya sauce (market price) may look deceptively simple, but it was actually the tastiest dish of the lot, served in a homestyle fashion with pork and onion slices. On the side, the Nyonya sauce, made with chill, garlic and shrimp paste, adds a welcome touch of spice.
Old Bazaar Kitchen may not be breaking any culinary boundaries, but it’s been around for years for good reason, with Chef Chung serving delicious riffs on SE Asian favourites. There’s comfort in that.
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.
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