Classic cuisine is a fond family favourite
Ming Han has been running Memories of Hong Kong in Queenstown for as long as I remember. We first became regular customers when he was at the Steamer Wharf. He shifted premises to Stratton House a few years back and although we stopped by for a couple of feeds we were unimpressed to notice a significant shrink in meal sizes, despite the cuisine remaining probably the best Chinese in town. With his lease up he has recently made the move into an upstairs premises in the Mall and we were interested to pop along and see how business was going.
It was a bit difficult to spot the single door entrance, possibly because there is more signage to come especially given the space downstairs is also undergoing renovation. Once located, we headed up the stairs to be greeted by large tanks at the door with crayfish, paua and crabs to select for our meals. We weren’t feeling quite so extravagant but it provided great entertainment for the kids.
There was only one other full table and not a lot on the walls so there was a bit of an empty feel. The outside balcony looked perfect for summertime dining.
The first page of the menu lists the Tong Lok deluxe banquet. At $238 per person it was a little beyond our reach but looked divine, including specialties such as shark fin and crab meat soup, special baked crayfish in clear soup, fresh abalone in oyster sauce, sizzling venison with ginger and spring onion, scallops, whole fish etc. Wow. There were several other banquet offerings starting at $48 per person and all would make fantastic meals.
With nothing on the menu specifically for the kids (though a bowl of complimentary prawn crackers appeared) we ordered a few dishes to share in the hope everyone would find something they liked. While contemplating our order we requested the Tong Lok special mixed entree ($36 for four people). When it arrived (more of that later) we were delighted with our helping of dumplings, king prawns, wontons and delicious chunks of pork belly.
For lunch we ordered the spicy fried squid (medium $23), an old favourite which we requested with less spice than normal in the hope the kids would enjoy it. A brilliant tactic. Madam 4 – Miss Fish and Chips, regular readers will recall - couldn’t get enough of it.
Karl’s favourite sweet and sour pork (medium $22), as produced at Memories of Hong Kong, should be held up as an example to all Chinese restaurants. It is fresh, flavoursome and tender. Finally, we ordered another Kiwi staple, the chicken and cashew nuts (medium $22). Again, among the best I’ve had. And the kids even ate some. A medium bowl of steamed rice ($8) was more than enough for our four adults and two children. It was all happily washed down with a round of Coronas for the adults ($9 each) and fruit juices for the kids ($5.50 each).
It was nice to have a visit and chat with the owner as we arrived and wait staff were happy to explain and make suggestions. It was a bit strange that our mains arrived before the entree, despite the entree being ordered about ten minutes earlier.
A while ago I read that it was one of Josh Emett’s favourites and it seems to attract a steady flow of Chinese visitors, which must say a bit about its offerings. For our family it worked out surprisingly well – given the lack of fish and chips. We all enjoyed the fresh ingredients and classic flavours.
Imperial taste: Chicken and cashew nuts from Memories of Hong Kong