Sunday, 19 February 2012

Hung's and Gerrard Corner - Feb 2012

After describing Cantonese food in the UK as gloopy and ubiquitous I was expecting - and received - flack, agreement and recommendations in equal measure. The consensus on Twitter and elsewhere was, with the exception of dim sum specialists, broad agreement, with high end exceptions such as Hakkasan, China Tang and Pearl Liang. Mr Noodles, writer of the excellent Eat Noodles Love Noodles also threw Hung's and Baker Street's Phoenix Palace into the mix. While I can't quite bring myself to pay the prices commanded by Hakkasan and China Tang, I'll be giving Pearl Liang and Phoenix Palace a go soon.

With a front window full of hanging and marinading roasted meats, Hung's set their stall out early. It would have been churlish to ignore this carnivorous bounty and, being no churl, we went for a selection of char siu, the honeyed roast pork, along with crispy cubes of belly pork known as siu yuk. Neither was bad by any stretch of the imagination, but served simply on a bed of rice they came over either as underpowered or too subtle, depending how charitable you're feeling. Moist and well cooked, I just wanted more taste.

Flavourwise, things improved with a beef brisket hot pot. Big chunks of meltingly tender beef fell apart in a thick gravy of umami flavour. MSG enhanced? Almost certainly, the cloying afterburn of the flavour enhancer was unmistakable, but a perfect dish for a cold February night notwithstanding. Oddly, despite being a hot pot dish, it was obviously cooked in another dish and served in the clay pot as the outer container arrived stone cold, hastening the cooling down of the meat inside.

Not tried this time, but Mr Noodles also recommended the King Prawn Dumpling Noodles, something I'd be happy to come back for having seen them ordered and demolished by a tiny Chinese lady on the next table to us. The service is as perfunctory as you'd expect from a Chinatown joint and the decor is basic. I won't be making a beeline for Hung's in the near future, but what we had wasn't bad.

Gerrard Corner
While we're on the subject, I thought I'd mention another Chinatown institution that I've had some success with in the past. Like many along that strip, they tend to bulk out out mainstream standards with onions and overload on MSG, but if you choose right there are some goodies here. The roasted meats are good if not exceptional and their pork hotpot is a rich and worthy winter ribsticker, full of soft yielding aubergine and slippery pork slices flavoured with star anise punctuated with shards of garlic and chilli.

 Roast meats at Hung's
 View to the front, and the sui laap 
The pork and aubergine hot pot at Gerrard Corner

Hung's on Urbanspoon

Gerrard Corner on Urbanspoon


  1. I've been eating at Gerrard's Corner for over 10 years, mostly for dim sum. I've always had good food there, though as I say, I don't order that much from their non-dim sum menu... bar the roast duck, sometimes an aubergine or tofu main...

    But I didn't grow up in a culture where I was exposed to dim sum so don't feel I can comment with the authority of some bloggers.

  2. I'm glad you gave Hung's a whirl, I've been going for 10+ years so I feel at home there. While it isn't the world's greatest, it is a great pit-stop if you want a quick one-plate meal or a bowl of noodles.

    One last word on your initial comments about Cantonese food. It's never ever a good idea to reduce any cuisine into a soundbite. After all, just think what the rest of the world might have to say (largely incorrectly) about British food?

  3. I love Hung's and have been a regular for at least 5 years. Their bitter melon stuffed with pork and king prawn dumpling noodle soup are excellent - I usually get king prawn dumpling and crispy belly pork mixed for a bit of surf n' turf. Granted their roasted meats on rice might be a little... plain but I think that is rather the nature of the dish unless you're at a specialist.

    1. @ Lizzie - I think you're right. It's almost a shame you have to know that in advance as I can imagine it putting a number of people off. Still the more it's talked about, the more people will hear about which dishes might work with which other ones.

  4. Actually, it was the first and will be the last time I ate at Gerrard's Corner as a few guy in the group had food poisoning the next day. =(

    I've not tried Hung's actually.

  5. @ Kavey - thanks, I've also had their Aubergine hot pot, tis a good option too. I feel I'm learning and loving dim sum, though certainly didn't get brought up on it!

    @ Mr Noodles - You are absolutely right. Guilty as charged. If it's any consolation, I've often reduced British, American, Brazilian and other cuisines in such a way too. In a country of over 1.6 billion people, it's almost impossible not to generalise, though I'd love it if people took the time to explore some of the joyously good Chinese food we're increasingly getting in the UK.

    @ Kay - booo.... never good news... I'd recommend Mr Noodle's excellent blog at for other options. He gave me a number of great suggestions that I'm looking forward to trying.