Apr 29 2021. views 73
Chinese cuisine is easily one of Sri Lanka’s favourite international cuisines to hit the gastronomy scene and making a distinct mark among the many Chinese restaurants in the market is Mong Kok Chinese at Level 5, One Galle Face Mall. Mong Kok Chinese began operations in November 2019 as one of first Chinese restaurants to open at Sri Lanka’s largest shopping mall.
Managing Director Mr Zhang Hui is also the restaurant’s Head Chef with a culinary experience of over 35 years to his name. Chef Zhang, started his training at the young age of 17 at a reputed hotel school in China, and has since perfected his craft by working abroad in countries such as Maldives and Egypt among others. He has spent the last 8 years in Sri Lanka, working at Kingsbury Hotel’s signature Chinese restaurant before opening one of his own, Mong Kok Chinese. “Working in Sri Lanka for the past 8 years, I’ve truly seen just how much Sri Lanka has grown over the years. Today, everyone knows Sri Lanka. I’ve always been passionate about food and I wanted to open my own restaurant here to serve the authentic Chinese food that I know and love” shares Chef Zhang.
Mong Kok Chinese offers authentic Cantonese and Szechwan cuisine and takes its name from the large city, Mong Kok, in Hong Kong. Located at the very centre of Hong Kong, Mong Kok is famous for its buzzing streets packed with little kiosks of delicious street food of all varieties. Recreating a similar experience, Mong Kok Chinese offers an assortment of dishes cooked in various styles to take an average culinary experience to a different level.
Offering both indoor and outdoor seating, the restaurant has a seating capacity of 60 along with an exclusive VIP room for private dinner functions that can accommodate up to 10 diners. While the indoor dining space offers a more intimate ambience, the outdoor balcony seating area is a big part of the allure behind the restaurant. Directly facing the Colombo Port City and Galle Face Green on an elevation that offers the best view of the endless blue waters of the Indian Ocean and promising only the most stunning sunsets – this was one of our favourite aspects about dining at Mong Kok Chinese. The restaurant’s Chinese style interior décor and music also aids in creating an overall good dining atmosphere.
Mong Kok Chinese is possibly the only restaurant in Sri Lanka to offer Vita Tea, a Hong-Kong beverage brand that is internationally popular. Their speciality Vita Tea bubble tea range is a must-try. We had their Pearl Bubble Milk Tea (Rs. 650 – Large)with black pearl tapioca balls (made in-house) and Chinese milk tea. While we are not the biggest fans of bubble tea, we surprisingly found ourselves loving our drink as it was just the right level of sweetness and consistency.
Also, a novelty to Sri Lanka is their Cheesy Mango, a drink made with natural fruit juice, topped off with a foamy layer of milk and cream cheese. Cheese tea is wildly popular in many parts of Asia such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia and we found ourselves trying it out for the first time at Mong Kok Chinese. The smoothie-like texture of the fruit combined with the frothy, yet heavy flavours of the cheesy foam makes the drink a meal all by itself and we’d recommend giving it a try just to see what the hype is all about!
The Mong Kok Chinese food menu offers a range of items offering a varied assortment of meats, seafood and vegetables. The menu offers sharing dishes that can be shared among 2-3 persons.
We started off with their Vegetable Spring Rolls (Rs. 500 for 4) and their Deep-Fried Golden Prawns (Rs. 980 for 4) The spring rolls were crispy and crunchy and the deep-fried golden prawns were generously battered and layered with Panko crumbs and fried till golden.
They also suggested their Wild Mushroom Soup (Rs. 400) to help transition from the appetizers to the mains. This was a clear broth-based soup made with stock and three kinds of mushrooms; oyster, fungus and cordyceps. The soup is light with very little flavour and is a good palate cleanser between dishes.
Because Mong Kok offers sharing dishes, we ordered a few items from every category for our main meal.
We opted for the Chef’s seafood special for the day, a Whole Garupa in Soy Sauce. We were told that Mong Kok brings their seafood in daily from the market so that it is fresh and not frozen. In this dish, the Garupa is steamed with the skin for 9 minutes, just until the flesh is falling off the bones, and is plated onto a bed of homemade soy-based sauce that adds all the flavour to the simple steamed fish. The dish may have a very simple preparation but it was a treat to our tastebuds.
We also ordered their Boiling Okra with Soy Sauce (Rs. 680) a popular dish in Hong Kong. The okra is blanched for less than a minute and hence retains its light flavour and crunch. It’s then tossed in a soy vinaigrette which cuts through the slight blandness of the okra. Given that Sri Lankan’s have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with okra, it may not present itself as an enticing dish, but we personally enjoyed how the underwhelming flavours of the okra helped in cutting through the strong flavours of the other dishes.
For our meat-based dishes, we decided on their Kung Pao Chicken with Cashew Nut (Rs. 1180) and their Sweet–Sour Pork with Pineapple (Rs. 1180). The staff informed us that their Kung Pao Chicken was their most popular dish and it's easy to understand why – it certainly was one of ours too! Kung Pao Chicken is a spicy stir fry with cashew and vegetables. The sauce, which uses soy sauce, vinegar and sugar among other ingredients, makes the dish salt, sweet and sour all at the same time.
Their Sweet-Sour Pork, however, was a miss for us. Chunks of pork belly was batter fried and tossed in a thick sweet glaze with vegetables and pineapple. While the pork belly chunks had both meat and fat, the fact that it was additionally batter-fried, proved to be too oily and greasy for us to enjoy it.
We also opted for their Seafood and Tofu in Chili Bean Sauce and their Sizzling Prawns in Black Bean Sauce. The Seafood and Tofu dish included a generous portion of prawns and cuttlefish alongside tofu. The tofu is lightly deep-fried while the prawn and cuttlefish are semi-cooked before it is tossed together in rich savoury bean sauce that is coated and absorbed by the tofu. This Szechwan style dish is a classic and we highly recommend it! You can also convert the dish into a vegetarian option with just Tofu. The Sizzling Prawns in Black Bean Sauce is a lunch special at Mong Kok and was a theatrical affair as it is served sizzling to your table. This gave the prawns a smoky flavour and coupled with the black bean sauce, a cooking sauce made from fermented, salt-preserved soya beans, it was an enjoyable dish.
To accompany our selected dishes, we opted for a simple Butter Fried Egg Rice with Garlic as our carb of choice. Mong Kok offers a variety of different styles of fried rice and noodles that would go well with their dishes.
We enjoyed our experience at Mong Kok. Chef Zhang’s experience of many years transcends to his dishes and we found the food delicious and hearty! Given the fact that all the items are sharing dishes and the portion sizes are generous, we also thought Mong Kok is value for money. When you couple good food together with the stunning view the restaurant boasts – we’d happily return for another visit.
Features: Dine in & Take Away
Price range: $$
PHOTO Nimalsiri Edirisinghe