[Hong Kong] The first thing I found out after booking a ticket to Hong Kong, was that May Chow (Founder of Little Bao, Asia’s Best Female Chef 2017) has opened a Cantonese fusion bar, or cha chaan teng with neon lights, at SoHo Central.
Located at the cross junction of Staunton Street and Aberdeen Street, look out for the secret entrance.
Happy Paradise can be spotted by this white signage at the entrance, not far from Chef Chow’s Little Bao.
Unlike its relatively calm exterior, after walking up the short staircase and entering the dining room, you would get bombarded with neon-lit interior, psychedelic bar counter, and tiled walls with peculiar artworks.
My group of friends started off with a couple of Happy Paradise’s signature Cocktails. Going at a price of about HKD88 (SGD$16) per glass, this was more affordable than the cocktails back home.
Choices included Double Pear Happiness (HK$128) with cognac, rye whiskey, pear, lemon and five spices; Pink Flamingos (HK$108) of Jamaican rum, passion fruit and Campari; Kowloon Soy Smash (HK$128); Drunken Plums (HK$118) and a strange-sounding Durian Painkiller (HK$128) blended with toasted coconut cream, fresh-pressed pineapple and durian-infused rum.
The dishes at Happy Paradise are conceptualised by Chef Chow and Executive Chef John Javier who was previously from Quay, Momofuku Seiobo and Master in Sydney.
As with most of these upscale fusion concepts (and cha chaan teng) around the Hong Kong Island, the key is to order the right dishes.
Unfortunately, the appetiser we ordered came up short. The Scallop Rice Roll (HKD110, SGD$20) probably came with the intent to mimic the ‘Cheong Fun’. However, for four pieces of finely grated and rolled scallops, it certainly ain’t value for value.
Though I must say brilliant work on the presentation.
Thankfully, the scallop rolls were the only disappointment of the night.
I thoroughly enjoyed the other dishes that were recommended. Imagine having your ‘Ko Lo Yok’ (Sweet & Sour Pork) for HKD158 (SGD$30). YAS! I am willing to pay for this again for my next visit here.
Served inside a partially half burnt pineapple, each piece of pork was filled with fats, melting in the mouth as I started to chew.
With that said, this dish is probably not for those who cannot take the porkish aftertaste, but I enjoyed every part of this rendition of this classical Hong Kong wok-fried dish.
I also had the Tea Smoked Pigeon (HKD178, SGD$32). Plated and served exactly like a pigeon lying flat on a plate, I was initially apprehensive. Imagine indulging in those birds you might find on your window ledge in the mornings back home.
My doubts were exacerbated when told that the pigeon was done medium well.
All was forgotten when I savoured the meat, appreciating the tender texture, and enjoyed how the smoked tea aroma masked any traces of unwanted pigeon odour.
Ending the meal with my favourite dish of the evening and prolly this particular trip to Hong Kong, was the Char Siu Bowl (HKD158, SGSD$28).
Happy Paradise outdid itself with this amazing dish which appeared literally normal.
The secret, was this serving of melted pork lard where the staff would recommend drizzling a spoonful onto the dish with some of their in-house soy sauce.
Mix it well and you will never look at char siew rice the same way again.
UG/F, Ming Hing House, 52-56 Staunton Street, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2816 2118
Opening Hours: 6:00pm – 12:00am (Mon – Sat), Closed Sun, Walk-ins only
Google Maps – Happy Paradise