My aunt visited us from Taiwan in December, and wanted to try some good Cantonese food. We headed for Zen in Pacific Place for our little dinner gathering. Zen was picked because it was conveniently located in the shopping mall, allowing the ladies plenty of time to shop before the meal.

Haven't visited Zen for a while, as I do not go to PP that often, and there are plenty of Cantonese restaurants that I haven't tried out on the island. Immediately catching my eye when walking into the restaurant is the signature lighpiece that spreads across almost half the restaurant. The place has thoughtfully incorporated some Christmas decoration to the decoration, bringing some festivity and warmth to the place.

The table crockery is simple and clean looking, using all white pieces. One thing I never liked about Zen - the tiny expresso cup like tea cups - how frustrating it is trying to drink tea from this cup. Every few sips and one is need of a refill! This meant that I avoided munching too much on the tasty salted peanuts in case I get too thirsty.

First to arrive was the chicken served with spring onion. The meat was succulent and tasty, and I like how the spring onion shreds compliments the flavor of the chicken pieces. It was the first time that my aunt tried this dish and she really liked it, saying how tender the chicken pieces were.

The batter for the sweet and sour pork was slightly too thick, although the taste was good, not too sour nor too sweet. There were lots of pineapple and green peppers to add to the taste. I also liked our veggie dish of green peas shoot cooked with salted egg yolk sauce.

I requested for the crab claypot cooked with vermicelli because I like how the vermicelli get soaked in all the crab juice and flavor, but found that this time it was only so so and not very tasty. The crabmeat was very fresh and sweet though, compensating for the lack in flavor of the vermicelli.

Since my aunt wanted to try Cantonese food, we ordered the claypot rice with preserved sausauges and duck pieces - which is perfect for the cold weather. This is probably one of the most fattening and unhealthy dishes one can have - high in cholesterol level and fat content, all the meat is preserved so probably is carcinogenic if taken in excess quantity. I found the meat for Zen's version a bit too dry and salty to my likin.g However, the rice was very nice, served steaming hot and freshly prepared from scratch, I only needed to add a very small dollop of the accompanying soy sauce to the already flavorful rice. This used to be one of my specialities at uni - so easy to prepare and so deliciously good.

A meal for four worked out to be around HK$800, which was pretty decent for the decor and the service. Remember to enquire about discounts for using certain credit cards - there was a long list of names given to us. I like Zen as the food while never spectacular is normally rather trustworthy. One thing I don't like about the place is that the tables are squeezed too closely together. One practically has to shout across the table to be heard by his fellow diners when having dim sum lunch here.

Zen, Pacific Place Shopping mall, Admiralty, Hong Kong

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