Restaurant Review: Butao-Causeway Bay!

For my birthday dinner, it was a toss between Butao and Ippudo at the Causeway Bay area and given all the raves we heard and read about Butao, we decided to try the former out. So we left our hotel in search of Butao around 6:45PM. By the time we found the alley, there was already about 15 people ahead of us. Not bad considering there were talks about really long line. Turns out they were right, the line we were on was actually the second line!

Butao waiting line

After about 20 minutes of standing in line, a guy in black and wearing an apron, came out and started handing out order sheets and taking orders. Our turn came and we asked for the English order sheet so the guy skipped us and went back in a few minutes later. Even though I already knew what I was going to order, I still wanted to see their menu in English.

Butao Menu
Butao English Menu

Butao Service Sheet
Butao Omotenashi Sheet (Service Sheet)

I figured since everyone was lining up and willing to wait this long, there really must be something about their ramen that’s worth all the fuss and wait, right? RIGHT??

Butao Kitchen
Peek at the Butao Kitchen from the outside while waiting in line

Huh. The wait for the much-raved about ramen ended after 1.5 hours of standing in line. Hungry and cranky, we were ushered into the last table inside this teeny tiny restaurant. We sat in a cramped table along with 3 other people and a few minutes later, two bowls of ramen were plunked unceremoniously in front of us; two glasses of water followed and that was the extent of their service. In the middle of the table was a container of chopsticks, toothpicks and assorted condiments (such as pepper, garlic cloves with garlic press, vinegar, etc) which we didn’t bother to try.

B ordered the Original Butao ramen as he didn’t like a lot of fuss in his food and he wanted something he was sure he would eat.

Butao (Original)
B’s order: Original Butao (HKD80)

Butao King
My order: Black King (HKD90)

I ordered the Butao King with normal taste, light infused oil and light garlic as well as the complimentary BBQ pork and cabbage.

B didn’t have much of a comment on his order. I guess he was too hungry. I never got to taste his ramen as I assume the broth is the only thing different between our orders. I have always liked all dishes that use squid ink and I had high hopes that this was one of those dishes (let’s not forget that everyone was positively raving about the Black King). I was sorely disappointed. While the broth itself was aromatic, the “black ball” and the garlic got to me so quickly that I couldn’t even finish half my bowl. I ordered my ramen light on both the oil and garlic but given that I was overwhelmed with it at that rate, I could imagine what normal must be like! The noodles were good but nothing to rave about. While other people like the umami taste of the ramen (or their food in general), B and I had no affection for it. We were left dried-mouth and thirsty.

This was one of those rare times that I absolutely couldn’t finish my food since I became an adult. B bravely finished his bowl of ramen, maybe because he was THAT hungry or maybe because he hated to let an expensive bowl of noodles go to waste. Since he didn’t like squid ink, he didn’t bother finishing my bowl. As soon as we were finished, we paid and left in a hurry.

As we walked along Times Square, the strong aftertaste of what we ate remained in our mouths. I think we finished off almost a liter of soda and water just to wash it off.

While it’s always good to experience whatever food hype and craze that goes on, it’s always good to take these raving reviews with a grain of salt. After all, one’s taste bud is different from another. This is certainly proof of that. As for B and me, we certainly don’t feel that the 1.5 hours of waiting and standing in line is worth the time and effort for 2 bowls of ramen. But again, that’s just us.

Address: Butao Ramen, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Date Visited: July 11, 2013 (Dinner)
Food/Beverage: 2
Service: 3 (Well, they did hand out fans for us to use during the long wait)
Place: 3
Overall Value for Money: 2

Restaurant Review: Breakfast of Buttery Goodness at Lan Fong Yuen

We were at Central yesterday and couldn’t locate Lan Fong Yuen so I was quite happy to see it at the Shun Tak Center (Sheung Wan) Ferry terminal. Since we weren’t able to buy our ferry tickets to Macau for the day, we decided to take the morning easy and have a quick bite at Lan Fong Yuen. This particular branch requires a minimum of HKD20 per person but it’s not so hard to reach though.

Lan Fong Yuen
Lan Fong Yuen Entrance at the Shun Tak Center

While Lan Fong Yuen servers don’t speak English, you can easily point out what you want from their menu and if what you want isn’t available, he’ll grunt and shake his head and point to a different item in the menu. That’s sign language at its best. After your meal, you’ll get your tallied bill on your table so you can just pay at the cashier on your way out.

Lan Fong Yuen Menu
Lan Fong Yuen Menu

I was quite disappointed that they were out of their ever popular porkchop bun, so we settled for the BBQ pork bun, a cold milk tea and a Hong Kong-style French toast to share.

Lan Fong Yuen_BBQ Porkbun and Milk Tea
BBQ pork bun and cold milk tea (HKD35)

Lan Fong Yuen_French Toast
Hong Kong-style French toast (HKD19)

The BBQ pork bun was decent and surprisingly, the bread isn’t stale! The cold milk tea was refreshing. But it was the French toast that was the highlight of this meal. Only two words to describe it – buttery goodness! I wish we didn’t order the pork bun and instead had 2 extra French toast. Or maybe three more of this yummy French toast.

All in all, it was a quick meal. In and out in 30 minutes, no waiting in line. Not bad since we had a lot of things planned for the day.

Address: Lan Fong Yuen, 3/F Shun Tak Centre, Connaugh Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Date Visited: July 11, 2013 (Breakfast)
Food/Beverage: 4
Service: 3
Place: 3
Overall Value for Money: 4