On our quest to gather as much information and experience as possible on operating a food business we were invited to spend some time with Auntie Edwina and her husband who run The Golden Leaf Restaurant & Pub in Sheung Tsuen, Hong Kong.
We were both very keen to get to see the inner workings of a Hong Kong restaurant and made arrangements to go out mid-afternoon on a Tuesday so we could help setup for the evening service. Now, usually in western restaurants a Tuesday is pretty dead but this being a local restaurant in Sheung Tsuen meant that it’s relatively busy most days.
After getting directions from Katie’s mum we were to get 2 buses. So we headed out at 3:30pm and didn’t get there until almost 7pm. That bus stopped in every obscure little village and spit-in-the-sawdust place along the way. Needless to say we were too late to help with anything and as service had begun Auntie Edwina didn’t have much time to sit with us. So she decided that we should sample their food and see what the atmosphere was like.
We asked Auntie Edwina what her recommendations were as the menu was extensive to say the least; no matter what your food preferences are they’ll cater for it!
She started us off with their homemade Borscht which had generous chunks of vegetables and a tangy tomato taste. We also had some creamy fish soup which was light and refreshing. Then came some stuffed chicken wings. I’d never seen stuffed chicken wings before but these were great. They came stuffed with a meat mixture, a sweet chilli dip and a fruity salad – ideal for a starter or snack.
By now we were getting pretty ravenous and couldn’t wait for the next dish. It was exciting not to know what was coming next but we’d been told that the restaurant was known for their steak so we could guess what one of the dishes would be.
The steak came out and it was a mountain of meat. Not just one slab like most western steaks but large chunks which had been marinated in, isn’t it always, the chefs secret marinade and coated with an interesting gravy. I couldn’t place the taste that was in the background, either ginger or ginseng but it was a different, Asian, slant on the gravy we were used to. Mashed potatoes and steamed veg of the day sat on the side-lines along with a Yorkshire pudding no less, while we made space on the table for the next dish. They sourced steak from New Zealand but when the price of beef rocketed recently they started ordering from the US which, I think, is a better option in terms of flavour.
A slow cooked pork knuckle arrived, very German! When we were in Munich for Octoberfest we tried a few pork knuckle dishes that sat upon mounds of fried potato slices but none were as soft and meltingly tender as this. The knuckle itself was monstrous, it would feed 2 easily and it came with mash and steamed veg. We were also served a dish of fried aubergine with a cream and spinach sauce called Portuguese Style Aubergine. The flavours of this dish were great, the cream wasn’t too heavy and the flavours from the spinach were soaked up by the lightly fried aubergine.
The restaurant wasn’t busy but there were about 4/5 tables of punters. They mixed eating lots of smaller dishes with trips to the stage to sing karaoke, yep that’s right a restaurant where you’re serenaded by your fellow diners. That’s a clever move, making your customers provide the entertainment and the other diners seemed to love it. After every rendition a cheer and round of applause went up then everyone went back to eating before the next wannabe star hit the mike.
After that mega-meal Auntie Edwina sat with us and asked what we thought of the meal and restaurant. I was surprised to find out that there was only one chef and an assistant and even on weekends they only have an extra body in the kitchen. For a sizeable and diverse menu like theirs that’s impressive. I did think that they could eliminate some of the lesser popular menu items in order to give the kitchen a slightly easier job and concentrate on the popular dishes. However, I was told that they don’t have any dishes that aren’t ordered regularly.
On top of this all their deserts are homemade! We got to try the Lemon Cheesecake which was light and zingy. It was more like a torte though as it had a sponge base and a mousse topping. A perfect desert to the colossal meal we’d just polished off.
We really liked the homely, local feel to the restaurant. It wasn’t pretending to be anything other than a down-home eatery where people can come for a relaxed meal and some fun entertainment. They also have a bar area and outside terrace in case the karaoke gets too much.