Wednesday, 28 March 2012

HK's Version of Xinjiang Food

Roasted leg of lamb at Ba Yi
Tonight a group of friends and I tried a Xinjiang restaurant, probably the only relatively authentic one in Hong Kong.

Ba Yi is not in a convenient location, so it was a bit of a struggle explaining to the taxi driver exactly where we wanted to go. But you go up Pokfulam Road past Third Street and it's on Water Street on the right.

Stir-fried string beans with minced meat
I'd booked the table at 7:45pm because they warned me if I was even five minutes late the table would be given away. We got there 10 minutes early and they wouldn't even seat us even though the table was ready.

So we waited several minutes and perused through the menu before we were seated directly under a large screen TV constantly broadcasting the news.

None of the staff are from Xinjiang -- they are definitely locals. But the food, while limited is probably best described as a Hong Kong version of the northwestern Chinese provincial cuisine.

I pre-ordered the roast leg of lamb (HK$368) and it came out on a steel rectangular tray in one piece. We snapped pictures before it was taken back into the kitchen to be chopped up and generously seasoned with ground cumin.

Shredded potato with dried chillis and peppers
The lamb was delicious, very tender and while it wasn't juicy, it was meaty. The giant bones were left on the tray and two of us were like dogs licking the bones clean as if we were on the Flintstones.

We also ordered the shredded potato with chillis (HK$40) that was excellent. It was hardly oily and had a slight sour taste from a dash of vinegar, while the potatoes had a slight crunch and seasoned with dried chillis and finely sliced peppers.

The stir-fried string beans with minced meat (HK$40) was pretty good too, again mildly spicy stir fried with fresh chillis, garlic and onion. These two dishes were small portions that was just barely enough for five people. This is not a typical Xinjiang dish, but more Chinese.

Diced camel that was wrapped in a pancake
Meanwhile we satisfied our curiosity with camel pancakes (HK$98). It came with one plate of pancakes, another with the filling of diced camel that looked like ham, carrots and onion with some cabbage. The filling was better than the pancake which seemed to be made of cornmeal. In the few authentic Xinjiang restaurants I went to in Beijing, none of them served camel...

Our final dish was boiled lamb dumplings (HK$68) that came with a dark vinegar sauce. We again liked the filling more than the skin which was quite thick, but nevertheless we finished practically all of the food.

Boiled lamb dumplings
To complete the meal we ordered a small pitcher of yogurt drink (HK$28) that came with ice cubes, raisins and black sesame seeds. Usually in Xinjiang restaurants each person gets a bowl of homemade yogurt to have throughout the meal. Nevertheless it was quite refreshing and slightly sweet.

We brought some wines with us and observed the HK$50 corkage fee per bottle. The restaurant also has Tsing Tao beer and soft drinks.

The total came to HK$853 for five of us and it was a hearty meal enjoyed by all. We're already wondering when we'll be back for the lamb again...

Ba Yi
G/F, 43 Water Street
Western District
2484 9981

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