Friday, 14 August 2015

Mrs Pound - Secret entrance was the highlight

What happens when you come across a place that promises so much, but delivers so little? Somewhere that should be memorable but is almost instantly forgettable?  Well, I for one get pretty disappointed and tell a few of my friends.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. There has been a movement in many cities around the world to the speakeasy style of restaurant and bar.  I've written about a few before and usually they are pretty cool and mysterious.  The concept of the speakeasy was spawned in the early 1920's as a reaction to the completely ridiculous prohibition on alcohol, which to be honest also created the modern concept of organised crime - bootleggers anyone?  Anyway, before I get too political, the speakeasy also went when prohibition ended, but they are back, and in a big way.

A speakeasy is essentially a secret bar, now often a secret restaurant but the irony is that they are often the most popular of places and hardly secret!

One speakeasy that's been garnering a lot of attention, both here and overseas is a little spot called Mrs Pound.  Located in Sheung Wan, Mrs Pound has an interesting back story (found here in full), which includes a sordid but illustrious career of a burlesque dancer who was rumoured to have many lovers but eventually ran away with a conservative and reserved Hong Kong gentleman called Mr Ming.  So enamoured with Mrs Pound was Mr Ming that he gave her his favourite stamp shop, which she promptly turned in to her personal playground, resplendent with secret entrance!

Now a restaurant, the secret entrance remains, although very few are fooled about how to enter and quite often the door is wide open, with the staff sprucing to entice passers by to come and taste their wares.  However, every now and then, you hear stories of would be customers trying all manner of actions to gain entry, only to wander off in search of easier dinner!  I think I need to set up a secret camera to record that!

Anyway, I won't spoil the secret but needless to say we gained entry pretty easily and found ourselves in a cool looking little spot that was as retro as you could get.  In fact, we could easily have been transported to 1950's Vietnam, it was actually very cool.  It was pretty quiet, with only one other table taken, so we had out pick of seats and were promptly given a couple of menus and had some drinks sent over.  The menu is mostly Asian fusion, with no real centre, and there are dishes from all parts of Asia.  Sectioned out into skewers, smaller and bigger, we picked out a random selection of items that caught our eye.

We kicked off with arguably the best dish on the menu, well, at least the best of those we selected!  Sriracha sweet corn, which came with a sriracha kewpie-mayo, lime zest, ginger, garlic and pecorino cheese.  The simply presented corn looked really appetising and after a few bites, you could really taste the heat from the sriracha and the cooling effects of the lime zest and creamy aftertaste of the pecorino.  The corn was beautifully cooked and the skewer that it came with made eating relatively easy - although of course there was a huge mess around my mouth by the time I'd finished.  Yeah, it was great corn!

The other dish I really enjoyed from our visit was the salted-egg-yolk squid, which was big chunks of fresh squid deep fried in an interesting batter of egg yolk.  The bright red plate was piled high with golden nuggets of squid which smelled wonderful.  Most of the pieces of squid were well cooked, you could bite in half with no problems, but some were a little tough and hard to chew through.  Those softer bits of squid had an interesting flavour and texture from the egg yolk batter, it was thicker than I expected, but were really creamy in flavour, benefiting from the yolk.

They were the highlights, but unfortunately, it went downhill pretty quickly from there for me.  I'd liked the concept of raspberry glazed flank steak, which had been marinated in a raspberry balsamic vinegar and flavoured with honey, garlic and ginger.  Flank steak is a very tough cut of meat and if it's not cooked or prepared well, it can be as tough as old boots to eat.  These pieces of flank were perhaps even tougher!  Now, I have pretty darn sharp teeth and for the life of me, I couldn't bite through the pieces.  I literally had to pick the steak up in my hand and maul like a tiger would and I still couldn't break into smaller (bite sized pieces).  It was a shame, I quite liked the raspberry flavour with the beef.

Going from bad to worse, the next two dishes were almost inedible for me, although SC was able to get through them a little easier than me.  I couldn't make up my mind which I liked least, the chicken meatballs presented in lemon grass stems or the bulgogi pork belly, which were presented as skewers.  There was something about each that just didn't sit well on my palate, in the case of the chicken, it was the texture and flavour, and for the pork, it seemed to be massively overcooked and really tough.  As it went, I could only have a bite from each, knowing that I'd feel really sick if I'd tried to eat more.

SC and I were at odds with the Rendang Bao, which was beef rendang in a char siu sauce and presented in a little seaming basket with the branding of Mrs Pound stamped on the bao.  Now, I'm not sure if I was feeling the effects of the previous two dishes, but I took one bite of the bao and handed it over to the girl, who had actually devoured her bao in a couple of bites.  There was something sickly sweet about the bao that just didn't sit well with me.

Our last dish was from the 'bigger' portion of the menu and Mrs Pound didn't lie about that, it was a massive bowl of wagyu fried rice.  The massive bowl was filled to the brim with with soy sauce fried rice that had plenty of wagyu beef interspersed with shiitake mushrooms, daikon and scallions.  By the time the rice had arrived, I was pretty much over Mrs Pound and made a half hearted attempt to eat the rice, but my heart just wasn't in it!  There was nothing inherently wrong with the rice, it just came out at a point where my palate and spirits had been broken.

We decided against dessert and quickly made our exit after paying out bill, which was overpriced for what was presented.  It's hard for me to be positive about the menu at Mrs Pound, even though there were a couple of delightful items, the overall effect on me was poor.  I just didn't like the food on the whole.

And so, we loop back to my opening statement.  Mrs Pound had the makings of a cool spot, but that was where it finished for me.  It seemed as if Mrs Pound was trading on it's kitsch factor and it's admittedly cool entrance.  Perhaps Mrs Pound would be better off remaining as a pure speakeasy bar and forget about the food.

Unfortunately, I found Mrs Pound to be completely...... sorry, what was I talking about again?

Hands down the best thing I tasted at Mrs Pound
I really wanted to like the Bao - I really did!
The background to Mrs Pound
It was pure 1950's in the restaurant

As a restaurant, Mrs Pound probably makes a great bar.  I just didn't enjoy the food


  1. What a shame. I get the feeling eating places are trying too hard these days to be different and failing miserably. Or maybe not trying at all?!:))

    1. Yeah, it takes more than a gimmick to keep people, it might get them there once, but only great food is going to get them back!!


Thanks very much for your comment, I really love and appreciate feedback and your thoughts


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...