Ravenous at Ragout Hot Pot
With temperatures set to go down to almost 10ºC this weekend, we are all craving some winter comfort food. Luckily for this foodbaby, my hankering was satisfied this Sunday with a trip to newly opened Ragout Hot pot restaurant.
Located in the Midtown Building in Causeway Bay where Wooloomooloo was once located, this restaurant boasts stunning views of Causeway Bay and Victoria Harbour. We had a cheeky glass of wine on the terrace area whilst taking a glimpse of the fabulous view before we were escorted to our table. The restaurant has a capacity of 125 diners with around 7,000 sq. ft., very roomy for Hong Kong island dining. The décor consists of plush red and black interiors for a more high end dining experience.
We got to sample a few cocktails, our favourites being the sake with melon cubes and cucumber and a ‘Spicy Okinawa’ cocktail with a smoky aroma and flavour. Once revealed from its glass cloche, the smoke evaporated into the air. Served with a chili, this drink has a more sour and smoky than spicy taste which I couldn’t get enough of.
There are many soup bases to choose from on Ragout’s menu. If you are fewer people you can try the half, half. However, as we were a party of six, we could try the top two recommended soup bases on the menu.
The Nourish pot came first, this one contains fish maw, homemade jade and was served with spinach beancurd and slices of fish maw. The waiter gave us a taste of the hot pot broth first before we poured the ingredients in to cook. You could clearly taste the pork bone broth mixed with jujube, carrots and celery which resembled homemade soup.
The Ragout Pot with Conch head, fish maw, conpoy and Chinese medicine (cordyceps and goji berries) had a much stronger flavour. We were advised they haven’t added too much of the medicine as they did not want to overpower the seafood (conpoy and conch head) taste. Both soup bases were very hearty, something that is reminiscent of comfort food and not at all oily which allowed us to eat more without feeling too full. Also, as both had fish maw in them, which is supposedly full of collagen making glowing skin is an added bonus!
While we were waiting for our soup bases, we made our own dipping sauces. They provided chili oil, chilies, dried garlic, fresh garlic, dried shallots, fresh spring onions, satay sauce and sesame sauce. Once you have selected from these, they will come over and add soy sauce to your dipping bowl.
One specialty of the restaurant is the castrated beef that has been spayed at the right age to ensure the hormones cease production for optimum tenderness in the meat. Another is their hydroponic vegetables that are grown in a no soil environment. There is debate over whether vegetables taste different if not grown in soil, this foodbaby is perfectly content with regular soil grown vegetables so we didn’t try this kind as they are a bit more pricey.
I would highly recommend ordering the vegetable set as it will save you picking all your veggies separately. The set includes many varieties of mushrooms, my favourite being the Enoki which doesn’t require much cooking time.
One of the stand out ingredients for me was the fish maw, which is the swim bladder of a large fish like a sturgeon. In Chinese cuisine, it is considered one of the delicacies of the sea and does not have a distinct fishy taste. The waiter came over to cook it whole for a maximum of 5 minutes before taking it out for us and cutting it with scissors. Certainly not appealing in looks, this was not at all slimy or chewy as I was expecting, but pleasantly succulent and tender. This was so easy to eat and absorbed a lot of the flavour from the soup broth.
The other ingredient we all loved (and ordered a round of seconds) was the home made fried tofu skins. The size was absolutely perfect for quick cooking time and with a mere 3 seconds in the pot, it remained cooked yet crispy.
Lastly the prawn balls really blew me away with the amount of flavour. I have eaten one too many processed fish balls that I have become accustomed to the bland taste. These are certainly worth an order or you could try the mixture of 4- cuttlefish, prawn, pork and minced ham.
Verdict: This was probably the best hot pot experience I have had. Now I can appreciate better hot pots need to come with quality ingredients and soup bases. Everything was fresh, well thought out and delicious. We spent almost 400 HKD per person including rounds of drinks, which I found reasonable given the quality of ingredients and atmosphere. I would definitely return to try out their other soup bases (I have my eye on the Sichuan style numbingly spicy) and enjoy the wonderful view.
27/F, Soundwill Plaza 2 – Midtown, 1-29 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay
Ph: 852 28826869