Hei Yuet Seafood Restaurant
517 Jaffe Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2980 2565
My visit to Hei Yuet Seafood Restaurant began with a memorable entrance…
After wandering around with an American friend of mine (who was visiting Hong Kong for the very first time to meet up with me during this trip, despite having lived in another Asian country for the past eight years) among the busy streets of Causeway Bay, we sought out some refuge from the masses of people and satisfy our growing hunger at the same time as it approached 8pm. After trying to get into several other places that we came across and had long lineups out the door, we continued zigzagging the streets until we came to the ground floor entrance of the restaurant.
Taking an escalator ride up to the first floor, we immediately saw a boisterous room and thought we would be turned back again. One of the waitresses was near the front and the first thing that came out of non-Cantonese speaking mouths was, “do you have an English menu?”.
Now, I am not sure if foreigners are a rarely seen presence here, but she immediately called over another worker and they broke out into a burst of laughter, while looking back in our direction. I made eye contact with my friend, who had just as bewildered a look on his face as I did. Scanning each other dressed in casual t-shirt & jeans attire and after spotting nothing out of the ordinary, I returned my confused gaze to the woman, as if asking for an explanation with just my eyes. It was not the kind of greeting we were expecting, and we didn’t know if we should be amused or offended. But she then grabbed some menus off a table and started leading us deeper into the restaurant. But by this time, all the people sitting at tables near the front had turned their attention to us in mid-meal, and it felt like we were making the long lonely walk to an execution chamber. Has this ever happened to any of you?
From here, things did not really improve as we got led all the way to the very back corner, and to a smallish table even though it was clear that others more in the middle of the room were open. Frankly, it felt like we were being treated like second-class customers. But with the language barrier, it made it hard to be understood, let alone protest the strange treatment we were getting. With our hunger being more important to satisfy, we resigned ourselves to this blatant discrimination and settled into the menu. Furthermore, while placing our order, the male server seemed intent on “up-selling” us on dishes that included crab and abalone, when we were vehemently saying NO to, and clearly pointing to other dishes in the menu booklet. As he walked away, we were not quite sure what he understood and what we would eventually get delivered to our table later.
An assortment of Canton-style dishes could be had, but we immediately knew we’d dig into some of the seafood-inclusive offerings. Looking back on it, I didn’t realize that prawns were such a heavy component of what we did end up choosing. The Har Gow was delicate, a perfect thin, translucent wrap around a nice meaty shrimp (Incidentally during my entire time in Hong Kong eating dim sum on several occasions, I never once experienced those much thicker filling wrappers that you unfortunately get too many times in dim sum restaurants on the west coast).
I tend to agree with those that say Cantonese cuisine is perhaps on the blander side, amid all the other regional styles of Chinese cooking that I have been exposed to. Some would go beyond this characterization and say its flat out boring. After more than a week in Hong Kong, eating mainly Cantonese, by the end of my time there, I was in full agreement with this latter group. I found it interesting that a few local Hong Kong people that I met had said to me that you could get just as good, or even better Chinese food in restaurants over in Canada (Vancouver and Richmond in particular) since so many top chefs had gone abroad.
Hei Yuet Seafood Restaurant was cleary a popular place with the many tables filled with diners, and our general summary of our dishes was of a satisfactory grade. Nothing overly exciting was ordered, but everything that was, came out prepared solidly and not disappointing on taste. I could not forget the service component of the evening though, so would have to say it did put a damper on our overall experience. I still don’t know the Richmond restaurant scene as well as I could, to even justify the afore mentioned claim put forth by the Hong Kongers, but I am sure some of our readers have some thoughts on this matter and would love to hear opinions.