Openings Review

Old Bazaar Kitchen

Chef Billy Chung returns to Wan Chai with his Southeast Asian-inspired comfort food.

Words Tiffany Chan

 

The Space

Old Bazaar Kitchen is something of a Hong Kong institution. For years, it occupied a nondescript space on Wan Chai Road, where it was beloved for its honest, consistent cooking and Southeast Asian flavours. On any given night, you could find yourself wedged between celebrities and politicians. Last year, chef Billy Chung retired and the restaurant closed. Then, in December, it was reopened by Lai Sun F&B Management (a group that includes China Tang, Howard’s Gourmet and 81⁄2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana) on Cross Lane, Wan Chai, in the space formerly occupied by Gin Sai. Bigger, brighter and more modern, it’s more comfortable than its previous incarnation. It’s also more expensive (Hainan chicken has risen from $400 to $588). But Chung is back doing what he does best.

The Food

While mostly Southeast Asian-inspired, Chung’s menu takes a little bit of inspiration from everywhere. We start with a brick-like slab of drunken foie gras (half $138; full $268). Marinated overnight in huadiao wine and rosewater, then slow-cooked and served with rich buttery, flaky Hup Seng cream crackers, it was rich and fragrant and not too heavy. We had pre-ordered the deboned Hainan chicken ($588), even though there were just two of us and it is typically shared between four to six people. It arrived in a ceramic Japanese casserole, with deliciously silky chicken and fragrant, oily rice and accompanying sauces. We found we missed gnawing on the chicken bones, however. Another highlight was savoury lamb brisket in scallion soy sauce ($288). Melt-in-the-mouth tender and distinctly grassy, it was a perfect winter stew.

Verdict

This is solid, consistent Southeast Asian comfort food. The restaurant makeover means diners no longer have to sacrifice comfort for quality food.

Spending: under $200/person for lunch, $300 to $500/person for dinner
Highlights: Hainan chicken, which must be pre-ordered
What else: there’s a private room that seats up to 18, great for family dinners or large business meals


Old Bazaar Kitchen

4 Cross Lane, Wan Chai
Tel: 2871 1993

 

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