Thanks to the tipping from M, a site dedicated solely to the mollycoddling of Hong Kong's speakeasies was brought to my attention; too bad it is in Chinese only. Still, funny thing is that there is a list of these private kitchens with ratings given by the readers. Xi Yan, which yours truly reviewed early this month, tops the list with 8.2 points out of 10 from a 5214 strong voters whereas the last placed private kitchen, naming no shame here, got a cheerless 3.9 points from 296 voters. Unless these voters are hired by the eateries, the list, along with some brief reviews for the kitchens in the website, show some useful hints to readers about where to book.
Though the website and the list are in Chinese, it is good to know that the website of the private kitchen, whenever it has one, is linked in the list since most of them are bilingual (Chinese and English) or even trilingual (plus Japanese). Believe it or not, some Japanese are even better-informed than us locals. But then again, the Japanese seems to just about as well-informed as the next Parisian in Paris or Milanese in Milan when it comes to eating and shopping...
So if you plan to jump on the bandwagon of speakeasy like everyone else, you may ask your Chinese-reading friend to check out the list for you and book a table for you next time you come to Hong Kong -- booking is a must since, by definition, there's no walk-in for a private place, right?
On the other, I must confess I myself was never a big fan of these unlicensed up-stair restaurants because quite a few I've visited shown a paucity of consistence in both the ingredients and the chef's flair departments. Still, once in a while, granted, there is a gem in the straws (like Xi Yan) that delivers great food and a refreshing dining experience to remember.
And in case you happened to be in the receiving end of a dismal dinner from one of these private kitchens, or any eatery for that matter, the best you could do is a) refuse to tip, or better still, b) to buy one of these vicious and voodoo-ish knife stands and imagine the reddish doll to be who-else to give full vent to your gastronomic anger... Murder, after all, is the best meat.