Date of review: November 7, 2012 | Reviewed by:
At first glance, it may not be immediately obvious why this rather plain restaurant, on the first floor of a commercial building on Wan Chai Road, is one of the most popular hot pot restaurants in Hong Kong. The decor is bland, with mostly white and cream walls, with the only adornments being large TV screens that show local channels. While there are some booth seats which are perfect for a intimate dinner date, we were seated on the larger tables in the main dining room, where the hot pot is placed on a A4 piece of paper, which indicates where the heat source is, hidden underneath the white table cloth. More importantly for a hot pot restaurant, however, we found the ventilation at Megan’s Kitchen to be excellent, and the room was not only not steamy or humid, but we also left the restaurant with nary a whiff on our clothes. As with most hot pot restaurants, do remember to bring an extra jumper as the air conditioning is fierce.
While the setting and décor of Megan’s Kitchen may not inspire, the long menu certainly does. Before even ordering any dishes, guests are asked what soup base they would like. Megan’s Kitchen is famous for its more unorthodox soup bases, such as the signature Thai-inspired tom yum cappuccino; French onion soup; or the pig stomach one our neighbouring table had, which wafted constant gusts of white pepper our way. Also rather more unusual at Megan’s Kitchen is not can you order one or two soup bases in a split-pot, which is the norm, but you can even opt for three soup bases or your own individual pot. While you wait for the soup base to heat up, make sure to order the deep-fried tofu cubes, wrapped in salted egg. These salty little squares of silky umami goodness will be sure to whet your appetite. Once we were ready for the main event, we opted for the signature tom yum, which woke our palates right up with its aggressive spiciness, sweetness and strong hints of lemon grass. We rather preferred the more gentle soup base with winter melon (perfect for offsetting the “heatedness” of hot pot) and Yunnan ham. Beef is a highlight of most people’s hot pot meals, and Megan’s Kitchen offers A4 amd A5 wagyu from Japan; Australian wagyu; American beef, as well as local beef. We decided to go for the sustainable option and order the hand-cut local fatty beef, which is indeed well-marbled. We also liked that it was cut slightly thicker, as thin beef should be the sole preserve of shabu shabu, in our opinion. Another delicious dish were the watercress and pork dumplings, which are sweet and encased in silky wrappers. We were less impressed with the hua diao marinated chicken, which we found disappointingly bland. Seafood lovers must remember to ask for a separate menu filled with the freshest catches of the day, and if visiting in the autumn, Megan’s Kitchen also offers several variations of hairy crab dishes. Finally, for dessert, you may be tempted to cool off with the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, but actually the crème brulee is a surprise hit. Although the custard is warm rather than chilled, it is extremely creamy and tasty, with a thick, caramelised crust.
The wine list at Megan’s Kitchen is surprisingly impressive for a hot pot restaurant. Not only does it offer up Robert Parker, Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator scores, but we found the champagne selection to be especially worthy of a second look. The only downside is that wines are only available by the bottle, although the manager told us that you can take any bottles that you do not finish to go.
The staff at Megan’s Kitchen mostly serves with alacrity, almost to the point of brusqueness. However, at times it can be hard to get their attention, as we noticed that a number of waiters seemed to be more intent on setting up tables rather than paying attention to the guests that are already there. A few extra smiles would also be nice.
Unless you’re ordering a lot of fresh seafood, Megan’s Kitchen is exceedingly reasonable and it is unlikely that you will pay much more than HK$300 per head.