I’ve previously written about both Hutong and Shui Hu Ju. Owned by the Aqua restaurant group, these are two of my all-time favourite places to stuff my face in Hong Kong. While the two restaurants serve similar menus — super-delicious, rustic Northern Chinese fare — each has its own unique feel. Hutong, located high atop the One Peking Road building in Kowloon is James Bond sexy. It’s the kind of place to go on a hot date when you want to show off the sexy young thing joining you for dinner. Shui Hu Ju, located on Peel Street in Hong Kong’s SoHo area, is tiny, dark and very intimate. It’s a place for recluses and secret meals.
I was thrilled to discover that the Aqua group has recently opened a new Chinese restaurant in Central. I was also amused to find out, after talking to several friends and a few hoteliers, that no one seemed to know about it. Yun Fu is located in the basement of a building on Wyndham Street. The building faces The Centrium (where the popular Dragon-i bar and restaurant is located) and is just west of the very stylish LKF Hotel. Yet despite it’s very central location and having been opened since December, when I mentioned that I was going to have or had lunch at Yun Fu, everyone I knew went, “Huh? What restaurant? I’ve never heard of that place.” Even the General Manager of the LKF and the hotel’s concierges didn’t know about it, shocking considering it’s just a few doors away.
Entering Yun Fu is fun. You walk down a steep staircase. Then you enter a round, stone-walled room with a small circular bar. On the far side of the room there’s a long hallway, which you have to walk through to access the private rooms and main dining room. The whole experience feels like you’ve entered some illegal, subterranean, private club. The hallway is flanked with arched, old Chinese wood and glass doors. The glass is a deep red. Through them you can spy the restaurant’s kitchens, which is surreal considering that you’ll find cuts of meat hanging from menacing looking meat hooks and chefs prepping food. The hallway opens into a dimly lit dining room dominated by a large buddha draped in saffron silk.
We started with cold river prawns with green scallions which were beautifully presented in a covered basket. The dish was light, clean and refreshing. It was very subtly seasoned and would have been the perfect foil for a spicy dish. Our next course was duck wrapped in tofu pancake, a delicious roll of shredded duck, slivers of tofu and vegetables wrapped in a thin omelette that was then deep fried. The combination of flavors and contrast of textures was a delight. I would definitely order this dish again. The restaurant group’s signature crispy mutton followed after. I have to have this at least once every time I visit Hong Kong. It was served with a tart, vinegar dip that cut through the fatty mutton. Mandarin fish in salted egg yolk was next. Utterly sensual and delicious. To make S happy, we had some green vegetables to end the meal. I can’t honestly remember what kind of vegetable we ordered; they were good though.
Despite its semi-secret status, the restaurant was about two-thirds full. I would urge anyone living in Hong Kong or visiting soon to book a table as soon as possible. I’m sure once people realize where Yun Fu is and how good the food is, it will soon be packed day and night.
Basement 43-55 Wyndham Street
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2116 8855