If you look at travel books or magazine, there is always something similar with all of them. They’re suggesting you to stay away from popular (possibly overrated) tourist places and go follow the locals. For some reasons, I bought this cliché suggestion in my last visit to Hong Kong. Wanting to avoid touristy dim sum places, like the infamous Tim Ho Wan, I chose to stop at Jordan MTR Station and followed my relative’s suggestion to an authentic Chinese restaurant called Majestic.
The place wasn’t too hard to find. Yes, just like many other ‘hidden’ gem, it’s hard to spot because Majestic Restaurant is actually occupying an entire third floor of a building, not having it’s own private space. I had to look for the sign, which is also covered with Hong Kong’s chaotic billboard arrangements, and pushed number 3 in an old squeaking elevator.
It was quite an adventure, I am telling you.
After escaping from the elevator, I was greeted with, well, a really loud restaurant filled with golden curtains, round tables covered in white table clothes and teapots smashed (accidentally?) with plastic trays. There was no concierge, waitress or anyone who could help me find a seat. So, I carefully chose my own table beside a huge glass window facing into an old building. Out of the blue, a middle age woman wearing formal work suit (all black) asked me something in really fast Chinese. No idea. Nada. I shook my head confusingly. She pointed at menu paper. Ah, so she would be my waitress for the day.
The menu book is entirely written in Chinese; the fact that my relative forgot to tell me earlier. I couldn’t figure out anything at all. I decided to retreat to my old strategy, picking up everything, which has ‘thumbs up’ icon in it. The waitress back and asked what kind of tea I wanted, I chose the most basic, Jasmine.
Unlike other restaurant that I’ve visited before, Majestic is extremely efficient, fast and not friendly at all. Yes, the waitresses were polite and respectful, providing everything that we needed, if you can speak Cantonese or Chinese. But there was hardly any smile, little conversation or suggestion. People order, eat, and leave. I don’t know whether this is a normal Hong Kong tradition or Majestic Restaurant’s signature service, but I honestly didn’t enjoy it.
Like I said, my foods came with blinding speed. No introduction or tight order. Pudding served with hot dumplings, barbecue pork buns with steamed chicken rice. Well, what can I say?
Black Sesame Cake
My first dish was this curious looking black sesame cake. I was sure that this dish should be eaten as dessert, since the chewy texture of the cake reminded me of pudding. The black sesame tasted strong, giving the entire dish a solidity and harmony with the plain rice flour. It was a good start.
Fried Prawn Dumpling
Unlike other fried dumplings I’ve tasted, Majestic dumplings have really thin crunchy skins. I like the fact that I don’t have to hurt my teeth to eat the dumpling. The prawns were bigger than the ones in Jakarta, that’s for sure. And they were deliciously juicy. After eating the whole three dumplings, I noticed there was no oil trace left in the plate. Healthy fried dumplings? Well, that’s new.
Steamed Chicken Rice
Steamed chicken, perfectly cooked rice, and two giant mushrooms sitting in a boiling clay pot. I have never seen this dish before in Jakarta. But it’s basically the same with the usual chicken and rice. The chicken was soft (even though the skin was a little gooey), accompanied with rather hard white rice and soft mushrooms. It was delicious, although I was a little bit distracted with my neighbor’s steaming pork porridge.
Fish Soup with Herbal Leaves
If you are one of those people who always smell their foods before eating it, you might not like this dish. At first, I thought I was actually ordering a pot of traditional Chinese medicine. The smell itself gave a bitter taste in my mouth and burned my nose in a bad way. But after a little bit encouragement, I felt that the soup wasn’t that bad. Warm, soft and left a nice sweet aftertaste in my mouth. It was nice, actually. I can taste something like saffron or maybe sage. It was refreshing and a good break from all those dumplings. The fish wasn’t that good though. I could taste ground water from the meat, although the texture was really soft and tempting.
Fish Soup with Vegetables
Almost the same with the herbal leaves one. There were more vegetables, steamed until they were soft enough for me to eat them without having to chew. Kale, lettuces, and celeries tasted really great with fish. But this one was a little blander than the Herbal Leaves. I would choose its sister anytime of the day.
Steamed Pork Rice
Different with the chicken rice, this one was served with a little splash of soy sauce and oil. The pork was great. Soft, juicy and has a little bit medicine like taste. The rest was the same with the chicken though. It was delicious, but not memorable.
Barbecue Pork Bun
Four hot buns served inside a wooden basket, generous pork meats waiting for you inside a hot fluffy bun. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing. Well, I enjoyed this dish. Really. But I was hoping for more surprises or something similar with the ones in Tim Ho Wan. It was easily forgettable.
I have to admit, this Mango Pudding was probably the best dish in our table. The pudding was more solid that what I expected, but it melted in my mouth like cotton candy. The mango was sweet and cold, adding some relieves in my hot tongue. The cream balanced the sweetness of the mango with its plain creamy taste. It was really good. Nothing to complain about.
And that’s all! I drank my dense tea, which tasted really really bitter (need more warm water, I guess) and went to the cashier to pay. To my surprise, I got a 50 percent discount for coming before 11 o’clock in the morning. What a delight! Hong Kong may be named as one of the shopping capitals of the world, but this kind of deal is hard to find these days. The waitresses didn’t order me to go right away, I spent a few minutes reading Chinese newspaper, trying to find a good location for lunch and then silently walked away. No one thanked me or waved good-bye or said anything interesting.
It was a strangely good experience. Yes, the service was a shock and the food was, even though really good, not special . I guess; it was the atmosphere that makes dining in Majestic different from other touristy dim sum restaurants. The way the waitresses treat you like a real local no matter how un-Chinese you look (big eyes, blonde hair, big backpack filled with camera stuffs) and the lively conversations happening all around you in Cantonese. Every single thing is like a small representative of Hong Kong unique culinary landscape.
The conclusion? Well, if you are a tourist looking for a good humbling dim sum experience, then I suggest you to go and suit yourself in Majestic Chinese Restaurant. However, if you are a local… well, I believe you know this kind of thing better than me.
- Majestic Chinese Restaurant
- Jordan MTR Station, Exit E