How private is a "private" kitchen in HK? Well, for one, they won't accept bookings of less than 8 people. If there are only two of you, forget it, their doors and kitchen will remain closed, unless you're wiling to pay for the non-existent six. Secondly, they want to remain hidden, so getting there can be a pain sometimes. Thirdly, they don't issue official receipts and lastly, they do not have a menu so you have to eat what they serve you, like it or not.
So if you have a problem with getting lost, eating in a non-licensed, most likely non tax-paying place, and having to shovel down food you might not be familiar with, go to a MacDonald's instead. Private kitchens are for the adventurous, the cowboys and cowgirls, the true foodies, the gluttons, the ones who like to be surprised (pleasantly or not), the ones who don't mind spending for food.
In the presence of such a group, I tried a famous Shanghainese private kitchen tonight. Nice digs, and six small appetizer plates plus eight courses later, I was full to bursting. When I asked the chef how many courses there would be, he burst out in the usual cryptic and curt manner of Chinese chefs: "many many". And indeed, there were "many many", some of them done superbly, others a bit more average but enjoyable nonetheless.
And for dessert? For how could one skip dessert? Roshan's thick, soft, Ghirardelli chocolate chip cookies from Manila. Thank you Franco.
Pictures, c/o Acky Ferreria, to follow.
Gong Guan can be found at the 12/F, Fung Woo Building, 279 Des Veoux Road Central, Sheung Wan. +852 2577 9789.