With my customary slowness with uploading, as I am prone to being when work and play get in the way, I have finally gotten round to posting about a fun evening last month with fellow foodies at Kin’s Kitchen in Wan Chai. This evening was particularly interesting and special because the menu was dedicated to the recipes created by the legendary HK food authority Ms. Pearl Kong Chen (江獻珠), whose cookbooks and instruction have long captured the hearts and stomachs of many the Cantonese food aficionado. Having never heard of her until the dinner was arranged by the lovely Little Meg and Janice of e-ting, I was quite fascinated to learn about her history and how her dishes showcase the evolution of Cantonese cooking and the techniques, some quite laborious, needed to master some of these dishes.
Our menu had 9 courses which presented classic Chinese banquet and homey dishes following Ms. Kong’s recipes and techniques. These traditional recipes, long abandoned over the years, were just amazing and I’m not going to even attempt to explain her background, except to say that Ms. Pearl Kong is the granddaughter of a Qing dynasty archivist and the legacy of her grandfather’s recipes was passed down to her. Instead I am going to directly quote Janice, which I stole off FB from when she posted on another friend’s pic of the night haha- thanks love!
“Kong (Jiang in Mandarin pinyin) Kong-dian was Mrs. Chen’s grandfather’s full name, although he was known by his position in the court (Taishi, ie. official court archivist/historian). He had cooks in his (supposedly grand) household and was fond of working out new dishes with them, and hosting other bigwigs at his house. As the Qing Dynasty crumbled, the family gradually had to supplement their income and it is said he ran his house as a bit of a private kitchen. He’s the one who invented snake soup as we know of today (often called Taishi snake soup as a result). Another random bit I read – he loved food so much he bought his own orchard and kept bees and stuff. And another random bit – the reason why Tim’s Kitchen is so well known is because chef Tim was trained by one of Kong Taishi’s chefs, and learned these crazy techniques and recipes.”
All in all, it was a beautiful evening with beautiful people, remembering and honouring the past and emphasizing how important it is to preserve tradition. For it is remembering our history that we can learn and move into the future. Enjoy the photos! 🙂
Stir-fry imitated shark-fin with eggs
Soup of Fish Head- expertly done. An impeccable dish.
Deep fried custard of chicken broth- this was pretty sensational, having never seen anything like this before. Firm chicken broth in a light batter, pretty addictive.
Steamed Chicken Stuffed with Shrimp Paste- a dish of hot discussion! How on earth do they do it? I loved this. Silky, rich chicken skin and chicken meat replaced with a smooth shrimp paste.
Stir-fried finely sliced pigeon
Braised Mustard Green with Ham sauce
Stir-fried noodles with assorted mushrooms
Smoked Chicken with rose stems and sugar cane- a Kin’s Kitchen signature. We ordered a plate as an extra! Fantastic and aromatic.
Steamed grouper fillet with fermented soy bean
Sweet pumpkin and almond soup with glutinous rice
Kin’s Kitchen, 5/F, W Square, 314-324 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, HK. Tel: (852) 2571 0913
I’m not certain what is gaining more interest at restaurants these days, the interior design or the food. With places like Duddell’s, (art gallery or dining establishment?), St Betty’s (Hanging Gardens of IFC) and AMMO (Tate Modern meets metallic staircase) distracting diners with their decoration, the food could be in danger of being a side dish rather than the main attraction. However, with newest Maximal Concepts’ venture on the block, (does this group ever stop?!), Mott 32, the food AND the decor are certainly neck to neck in the attention stakes.
Mott 32 is not your local Chinese eatery. The food is top-notch quality with prices to match, so don’t say I didn’t warn you if you look at the bill with bulging eyes. I will say this- I will most definitely be taking all my future visitors there. Mott 32 is the epitome of Chinese fine dining, and Maximal Concepts have gone all out for their first Chinese restaurant. Named after New York’s first Chinese convenience store which opened in 1851 on 32 Mott Street and an homage to those who left HK for NYC’s Chinatown, Mott 32 showcases Cantonese cuisine with regional specialties from Sichuan and Beijing using the Maximal Concepts’ farm-to-table cooking principles. Even finding it is an eye-opener; situated in the enormous basement of the Standard Chartered Bank building in Central, beyond one set of escalators and a seemingly never-ending and heel-unfriendly spiral staircase.
Enter and you will find a splendorous space beautifully furnished with an array of Chinese artifacts, sumptuous sofas and Oriental wooden screens that divide the restaurant into zones, each with their own gorgeous design. Their semi-open kitchen with an industrial duck oven and special air-drying duck fridge is an interesting focal point and one can get quite diverted by the duck carcasses hanging as if in suspended animation. My meandering took me to my favourite room- an intimate area decorated with hundreds of Chinese calligraphy paintbrushes and round the corner I admired a wall cloaked in a breath-taking silkscreen of silver birds and flowers. In yet another corner, a giant abacus floats serenely from the ceiling, whilst the walls play host to a hotch-potch of Chinese antique vases and ornaments. Street art and graffiti complete the East meets West/ ancient meets modern look and you are left with what is a truly magnificent interior, courtesy of award-winning interior designer Joyce Wang. There are also five private rooms, all equally stunning, that ensure you can have an uninterrupted, elegant meal with a party of friends. The bathroom is also worth a mention, not least because it feels like you’re at Hogwarts. Polyjuice potion scene springs to mind.
And onto the food, which is as impressive as the decor. The kitchen is headed by Chef Fung, previously of Dynasty Restaurant, Renaissance Harbour View Hotel , which explains why Mott 32’s prime char siu made with Iberico pork is a smorgasbord of excellent flavours and succulence and touted as one of the finest in town, and Dynasty’s char siu has gone downhill in the last few months. When the char siu arrived, consistency was a slight issue though, as our table had two plates of this popular dish, and one was distinctly lacking the same love and care the other had. The winning plate was sensational; the char siu unbelievably tender and juicy, fragrant with the perfect amount of sweetness to the taste and edged with drool-worthy caramelisation. Its sister plate however, was a lighter colour, a little on the soggy side unfortunately and not quite as charred on the edges.
Iberico Pork Char Siu
We sampled a few of their dim sum delicacies starting with the Dry Fried Squid with sweet chili and lime zest. Whilst the squid itself was nice and chewy, this wasn’t overly memorable and the batter tasted a little on the chalky side.
Dry Fried Squid
I loved the Crispy Sugar Coated BBQ Spanish Teruel Pork Buns which were delicate, light, soft and fluffy. The sugar coating was beautiful to bite into and the pork filling sweet and lean. Another hit were the Kurobata pork, quail egg and black truffle siu mai. These posh siu mai were plump and delectable, and who can resist a surprise quail egg in the middle plus fragrant black truffle on top?
Crispy Sugar Coated BBQ Spanish Teruel Pork Buns
Kurobata pork, quail egg and black truffle siu mai
The Australian Wagyu beef with Shitake Mushrooms was a solid dish and we enjoyed the Aged Black Vinegar Sweet & Sour Pork which was a more sophisticated version of the classic dish. The sweet and sour sauce was great and a perfect balance of flavours. Rach from Through the Looking Glass and I were a bit confused by the addition of dragonfruit, (of the normal red variety I believe, as they had absolutely no flavour at all). The dish wants the pineapple back please.
Australian Wagyu beef with Shitake Mushrooms
Aged Black Vinegar Sweet & Sour Pork
As if we hadn’t had enough food, there was the Apple Wood-Roasted Peking Duck, (you need to pre-order this), which was stupendous. I couldn’t get enough. A bamboo steamer holding wonderfully thin pancakes was emptied at lightning speed as we feasted on crispy, glistening duck skins and succulent slices of meat.
Apple Wood-Roasted Peking Duck
At this point my stomach was starting to protest but we powered our way through a 12 hour Slow Cooked Sticky Pork Belly which was another outstanding dish. The invitingly glossy exterior of the pork belly fat was even better to taste as each mouthful melted.
12 hour Slow Cooked Sticky Pork Belly
I was disappointed I did not have more room to fully indulge in the next dish which was Black Cod, Potato, Chilli, Garlic, Spring Onion, or as we affectionately called it ‘Chinese Fish and Chips’. The whole dish was well-seasoned and aromatic; the battered cod was light yet meaty and the potatoes fat and moreish.
‘Chinese Fish and Chips’
We were all on the precipice of a food coma when the final savoury dish emerged- Fried Rice with Pork Belly, Preserved Vegetable and Egg. Don’t ask me how- pure greed coupled with a carb craving and a love for preserved vegetables in anything, meant that I finished both mine and Rach’s bowl of rice. It was delicious though, so no regrets!
Fried Rice with Pork Belly, Preserved Vegetable and Egg
To end, (yes, we had dessert too), we had the Green Tea coated Chocolate Mousse, 3 of which made up part of my dinner grazing at their opening party, and the Osmanthus Flower Jelly. The green tea flavour was a good counterbalance against the rich and smooth chocolate mousse and the jelly was a lovely, refreshing end to a hugely satisfying and delectable meal.
Green Tea coated Chocolate Mousse
Osmanthus Flower Jelly
Mott 32 is simply stunning to dine at, just sitting there to take in the ambiance and admire the interior is enough, let alone sampling the stellar food. The high-quality ingredients, first rate preparations and clever twists on traditional dishes without losing the essence of the original creations, make a dining experience at Mott 32 a must despite the price. With main dishes between $200-400 each, (the Iberico pork is $295), you are looking at a fairly hefty bill, especially if you are a) a glutton and b) ordering some of their delicious cocktails. However, I do think Maximal Concepts have really done a fabulous job with their latest venture, and while I won’t be a frequent visitor, I will definitely be saving up for my char siu fix on special occasions and when I have visitors to impress.
Chopstixfix rating: 4/5
Mott 32, Standard Chartered Building, 4-4a Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong Tel: +852 2885 8688 Reservations@mott32.com
This meal was by kind invitation by Maximal Concepts. Many thanks!
This will be brief. Because, sadly, this lovely, compact private kitchen, hidden in what feels like an abandoned building in Kwun Tong of all places, is closing down at the end of this month, i.e. this weekend. This is really a crying shame as 1) I only just discovered it, and 2) the food is really good. But I’ve been told that the owners have been struggling to keep up with cooking their amazing array of dishes and it is time to retire their skills. I could definitely see why they have decided to make this difficult decision to close Any Mo Food Private Kitchen as their menu the evening that I went, was by no means straightforward for a party of 8. So this is more of a photo gallery of what we ate and enjoyed, and to lament the loss of a great private Cantonese private kitchen. I hope that other kitchens serving traditional Cantonese fare of similar calibre do not suffer the same fate and that the older generation’s culinary skills are passed down to those who want to lovingly replicate these delicious dishes.
Ginger Thousand Year Old Egg- one of the tastiest thousand year old egg’s I have had
Not entirely sure what this was, but it tasted like turnip
Soy Sauce Shrimp White Rice Wine
Fried fish cakes
Abalone bamboo shoots with a lovely pineapple and lime sauce
Steamed scallops with garlic and vermicelli- spectacular and not too greasy
Signature Chicken with lots of ginger infused through the sauce
I love dim sum. Back in London my parents and I would go to New World in Chinatown for a spot of dim sum trolley service or head to Princess Garden in Mayfair for our fix. Of course, in HK, there is no shortage of dim sum places and as such, I have been valiantly trying to visit a few different restaurants, especially a couple of the more posh joints like Lung King Heen, just to see how their dishes measure up against the likes of the more down-to-earth joints.
So hot on the heels of my WHISK dinner, I found myself going back to The Mira to try out their One -Michelin star Cantonese restaurant, Cuisine Cuisine (by invitation). Cuisine Cuisine has another branch in IFC, which I’ve yet to try, and is also a One-Michelin star. In fact the Mira branch had Two-Michelin stars back in 2011, but unfortunately it did not retain it the following year.
Cuisine Cuisine at The Mira
Cuisine Cuisine is a rather resplendent forest-emerald green inside with these dramatic suspended glass orbs hanging from the ceiling and pretty views of Kowloon Park. The modern decor with traditional hints is very much a reflection of their menu which serves traditional fare with contemporary twists. The day I went, I was sampling their re-introduced All You Can Eat Dim Sum, which at $248 (+10%) per person, is terrific value, if your stomach is as big as your eyes. This is only available Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays between 11.30am till 2.30pm, so if you can escape from work then make the most of it!
We started with the crispy taro puffs with diced chicken and foie gras which were light and airy with hints of foie gras (not strong enough for me!) Stir-fried turnip cakes in X.O. Chili sauce was excellent; their X.O. sauce enhanced the fried turnip beautifully and made it difficult to tear my chopsticks away from each morsel. Their steamed wild mushroom and black truffle dumpling with a pop of colour from the melon inside, was fragrant and quite delicious, a well-executed vegetarian dim sum dish.
Crispy taro puffs with diced chicken and foie gras
Stir-fried turnip cakes in X.O. Chili sauce
Steamed wild mushroom and black truffle dumpling
The xiao long baos and steamed dried scallop with shrimp and vegetable dumplings were good but standard fare, but I was happy to note that the skins in the xiao long baos were not overly thick- I lost some precious soup from over-zealous picking up!
Xiao Long Bao
Steamed dried scallop with shrimp and vegetable dumpling
The mini steamed sponge cakes with black sugar were wonderfully warm and bouncy and not too sweet. The pop-in-your-mouth portions are a little dangerous, but as its an All You Can Eat, you can always order more! I loved the cheung fan or steamed rice flour rolls with BBQ pork which was quite succulent and had the occasional, but not too much crispy fat- a happy contrast to the plain but smooth rice rolls flavoured with soya sauce. Crispy glutinous rice dumplings with diced pork were also scrumptious and thankfully not too heavy or oily as these can have a tendency to be. No dim sum lunch is complete without char siu bao (steamed barbecue pork bun), and theirs was fluffy and soft, yielding easily to my fingers prying the bun open to reveal glistening BBQ pork.
Steamed sponge cakes with black sugar
Crispy glutinous rice dumplings with diced pork
Steamed rice flour rolls with BBQ pork
Char siu bao
Greedy guts we may be but it is surprising how your brain thinks you can eat so much more dim sum than you can in actuality. We ended up with just about room to spare for three sweet dim sum dishes. Their delightful egg tarts, piping hot when they emerged from the kitchen and filled with sugary custard goodness. Their yellow centres wobbled happily at me and were devoured with gusto. The coconut and osmanthus pudding was not a headlining dessert, but being chilled and light in flavours, was a clean-tasting bite to refresh the palate. The mango cream and sago pudding was by far the best, cooling and sweet yet tangy.
Mango cream and sago pudding
Coconut and osmanthus pudding
Dining at Cuisine Cuisine can be an elegant affair, though there is also quite a nice, laid-back atmosphere, with service running like clockwork and high quality dishes rolling out and helping patrons to roll out of the restaurant themselves, stuffed to the rafters with food. Don’t stroll in wearing flip flops but otherwise you can have a relatively casual meal whilst enjoying the polished surroundings.
Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5
Cuisine Cuisine at The Mira, 3/F, The Mira Hong Kong,118 Nathan Road,Tsimshatsui /firstname.lastname@example.org /+852 2315 5222
This was a tasting by invitation by The Mira Hotel- many thanks for the kind invite. Interior photo courtesy of The Mira.
There are some restaurants in our beloved, hectic city that I have been saving for a special occasion or just waiting for a good time to go with my other half and visitors, and Lung King Heen at The Four Seasons is way up there on that *special occasion* list. But there it languished for a couple of years, until I despaired that such an occasion would ever materialise until, to my surprise, The Four Seasons extended a very kind invitation to me to try their set lunch one weekday. They were equally surprised that I hadn’t as yet been to their Three-Michelin starred restaurant, (I wasn’t deliberately avoiding, honest!), so it was with great delight that I found myself gazing round their spacious dining-area with polished floors, plush seats and magnificent views of Victoria Harbour.
Now, to be crowned the world’s first Chinese restaurant to be awarded the Three-Michelin stars is no mean feat, so naturally, one wonders if it deserves such an accolade. Although I was invited, I do believe that day to day, invites make little difference, as this is a tightly run ship with stellar service and truly standout dishes at what are frankly, quite reasonable prices for the quality that one gets.
Lung King Heen
After nestling into one of their side booths I had a look at their Executive Set Lunch menu which, at $485 +10% per person for seven, albeit small courses, is GREAT value, especially once I started tucking in. The a la carte menu has an array of fabulous dishes and of course they have a fine selection of dim sum, being Cantonese and all, so if a tummy full of dim sum tickles your fancy then you should definitely do that at leisure. I was trying their set lunch which starts with the Chef’s dim sum selection followed by the Soup of the Day, Barbecue combination (highlight for any pork belly obsessive), two mains (more on those later), then dessert and petit fours.
Our attentive wait staff soon arrived and two neat, steamed dim sum parcels appeared before me- the mushroom dumpling with celery and the shrimp dumpling with bamboo shoots. They were both morsels of joy and deliciousness and not nearly enough to satiate my dim sum lust that they ignited. Their dim sum skins were delicate yet firm enough to hold their contents, and as they yielded to bite, I savoured the plump shrimp and tender bamboo shoots and the silky and flavoursome mushrooms, with the celery adding a fresh taste. I was also treated to their wonderful Crispy Spring Rolls with Shrimp and Hairy Gourd, which made that happy crispy sound as I bit into it.
Steamed Dim Sum- mushroom and celery dumpling and shrimp and bamboo dumpling
Crispy Spring Roll with Shrimp and Hairy Gourd
The Soup of the Day of dried vegetable, snake- head fish and pork, may not sound or look that impressive, but it was a wonderful, soothing broth to warm the cockles of the heart. As a Chinese soup fan, I fully appreciate the fine art that can go into a simple, humble soup, and I really wanted to produce a thermos and take some home!
Soup of the Day
Lung King Heen’s Barbecue combination may be small but they made an impact. And also made me want to weep that there was not more. (Am definitely having a plateful of crispy pork belly next time). My salivary glands were going into overtime and I had to tell myself not to wolf down my two precious pieces of pork belly and the equally magnificent two pieces of roast goose. The roast goose skin glistened delicately with the delicious goose fat; it was pretty much barbecued meat porn. But let’s not forget the marinated jellyfish with its yummy, crunchy texture, which was good but paled in comparison to its meaty neighbours.
Barbecue combination- crispy pork belly, roast goose and marinated jellyfish
The next dish is a little controversial, as I soon found out after tweeting a picture of this dish enthusiastically, in that the so-called “Chilean Seabass”, is actually the Patagonian Toothfish, cleverly marketed to make it appear more appealing, in name, to us mere mortals and not only that, it seems to be a fish that is teetering on the edge of sustainable, depending on whether you want to wade in on the ‘legal fishing’ debate. I was educated very swiftly by Wafflerica – thanks! Anyway, this awkwardness aside, this dish (Steamed Chilean Seabass with with Fermented Black Bean Sauce) was outstanding, the fish was amazingly fresh, meaty and succulent and I loved the fermented black bean sauce, which is always such a dynamic contrast in flavours to that ‘clean’ fish taste.
Steamed Chilean Seabass with with Fermented Black Bean Sauce
Next up was the welcome sight of the Braised E-Fu noodles with crab-meat in lobster sauce. Crab meat AND lobster sauce? Winning combination. I ate it so fast, such was my pure enjoyment of this dish, that I was not really registering any deeper analytics of the dish except YUM!
Braised E-Fu noodles with crab-meat in lobster sauce
And so we were coming to end of this excellent lunch, and I had to make room for one of my favourite Chinese desserts of all time- the Chilled Mango and Sago Cream with Pomelo. Deconstructing this, there is basically a glorious mango pudding, firm and inviting, drowned in a fresh mango-sago-pomelo cream. Fruity fun.
Chilled Mango and Sago Cream with Pomelo
To end, there was a lovely Chrysanthemum jelly with barley and a sesame biscuit to cap off an impressive lunch. Three-stars absolutely well deserved.
Chrysanthemum jelly with barley and a sesame biscuit
I was surprised to receive a kind invitation from the Wynn Macau to spend a day touring the premises and more excitingly, to sample the food at two of their restaurants- the Michelin 2-star Wing Lei (awarded in the 2012 guide) and Mizumi (see here for the review). If it weren’t for this opportunity, I doubt I would actually think about dining at the Wynn, but I’m very glad and grateful for this invite as I hope that this encourages people to think about the Macau dining scene a little more!
It was on a beautiful day that I set off, and apart from the frustratingly long wait at Immigration, I was soon waltzing through the elegant doors of the Wynn and on my way to lunch at Wing Lei.
As with most of the resorts in Macau, what strikes one immediately is the sheer size of the structure and the grandiose manner in which everything is displayed. However, compared to the others I’d visited before, I felt the Wynn, whilst still luxurious, was more understated and intimate in its decor, which was appealing to me.
The Wynn Macau has some impressive restaurants under its belt including the Michelin-star Golden Flower (awarded in 2012) and the Italian, il Teatro, as well as several casual dining establishments to cater for all palates. I wanted to go to the Wynn without any expectations. Obviously, Wing Lei, being bestowed with 2 Michelin stars is quite the accolade, but in my mind a luxury Vegas-style resort with such a badge of honour, usually means a fair bit of moolah and food artfully arranged on a plate. So what was in store for me when I sat down for lunch?
Before anything else, I have to mention the eye-catching crystal flying dragon that’s dramatically displayed on the back wall of the main dining area. This centrepiece is certainly an arresting sight, made more impressive by the fact that it’s constructed out of 90,000 Swarovski crystals and tiny lights. If anything is going to detract attention away from the food, that would be it! After I finished gawking at it, I had my first sip of Wing Lei’s Signature Tea, a floral and delicate blend of flowers, fruits and tea leaves that, as the meal progressed, nicely cleansed the palate. (I was delighted when I was presented with a tin of their signature tea to take home, will be taking my time with this precious supply!).
The menu for lunch had been prearranged to highlight the best of Wing Lei’s dim sum as well as a couple of their signature dishes.
To start we had a pretty selection of appetisers: drunken shrimps, marinated eggplant with chilli vinegar and shredded barbecued duck, chilled sliced sea cucumber and cucumber with spicy sauce and smoked bean curd, mushrooms and sweetened carrot. The drunken shrimps were plump and meaty with a light infusion of alcohol and I especially enjoyed the marinated eggplant.
I was very much looking forward to the selection of Dim Sum, in particular to the baked barbecued pork bun that I have a weakness for which arrived on a simply presented plate with a steamed shrimp and vegetable dumpling with in-house made XO chilli sauce, a deep-fried shrimp spring roll and steamed layered bean curd skin with soy bean milk.
The elongated deep-fried spring roll was delicious. I loved the wafer thin, cripsy wrap and the shrimp mince enveloped inside. The steamed layered bean curd skin was excellent and so intricately layered that it was almost an art-piece rather than a morsel to be eaten. But the real showstopper was the fragrant baked barbecued pork bun with a sweetened crust. The crust was perfect- beautiful, fluffy and sweet (the crust immediately made me crave a whole plate of pineapple buns when I sunk my teeth in), which gave way to a tasty filling of barbecued pork, which was just on the right side of salty to complement the sweet.
The most astonishing part about Wing Lei was discovering that their lunchtime Dim Sum Tasting menu costs a mere 158MOP (equivalent value in HK), for a selection of 6 dim sums from a fairly extensive list. Considering this is a 2-star Michelin restaurant, I found this to be incredible value for such fantastic quality dim sum.
The next course was their signature Steamed cod fish roll with preserved tree seeds. The rolled cod was fleshy and well-prepared, the light broth giving it that added succulency and flavour. The tree seeds added a contrasting sourness which I liked.
The Crispy crab claw with fragrant garlic flakes was huge and meaty. Nothing beats a good sprinkling of fried garlic flakes. I’m always a bit fussy when it comes to fried garlic as I hate it when it becomes soggy but these were nice and dry and gave the crab claw that wonderful garlicky aroma. The fried crab meat with egg white that accompanied it was also good and tempered the salty crispiness of the claw.
I should add that service during the lunch was exemplary, and I don’t just say that because my visit was expected. I observed the service across the dining room and the staff were attentive throughout and just as detailed about the courses when serving the other diners. My tea was refilled constantly and everything was said with a warm smile which always makes a difference!
No meal is compete without dessert, no matter how stuffed one is. The dessert platter was gorgeous, both in presentation and in taste. I enthused with girly delight over the tiny, golden steam basket which I really wanted to take home! Anything deep-fried usually gets my attention anyway, but the deep-fried egg custard roll was honestly delicious, the filling was so smooth and flavourful. The osmanthus milk pudding was reminiscent of a panna cotta and was quite delicate on the palate. I was deeply impressed by the baked walnut puff which looked exactly like the real thig. I couldn’t fathom how they made it, I doubt I would have the patience to recreate that in the kitchen, so gold stars for effort! I was also interested in the seasonal fruit on my platter which was a slice of yellow dragon fruit from Columbia. I find dragon fruit usually so bland and this was the first time I’d encountered yellow dragon fruit (Piyahaya). I was taken aback by its juiciness and honey-like sweetness which acted as a fabulous refresher and cleanser to the end of the meal.
Wing Lei impressed me and I could definitely see why it was awarded 2 Michelin stars. I would highly recommend going there for dim sum if you are ever in Macau, because frankly, you won’t find such quality at such a steal.
Chopstixfix rating: 4/5
Wing Lei, G/F, Wynn Macau, Rua Cidade de Sintra, NAPE, Macau Te: +853 8986 3688
(Photos of the main entrance to the Wynn and the crystal dragon are courtesy of Wynn Macau)
When it comes to hotel restaurants, I’m always a tad wary. Sure, the quality of the ingredients is most of the time top notch, but are we paying for the privilege of eating at an elegant location and for the assumed exemplary service or is the food really worth the $$$$? In Tin Lung Heen’s case, I can say that it’s probably worth the lightening of the wallet on a special occasion, given the ambience, cool views, fab presentation and some real stand-out dishes. You can also read this review on Sassy.Tin Lung Heen is one of those restaurant names that gets casually dropped into a conversation and anyone who’s heard of it, gushes about it regardless of whether they’ve been or not. Since earning its Michelin star after eight months of opening, it’s been on my hit list and this month, I finally managed to see what all the big fuss is about.
Tin Lung Heen looks more like the serious, commanding older brother of Tosca with its sombre, burgundy tones, wooden panelling and red leather backed chairs, with infusions of Chinese influences. The whole interior design is rather reminiscent of a study. The centrepiece of the restaurant is, of course, the magnificent view, but people don’t come here to just gawk at the skyline, the focus is on the food.
Chef Paul Lau, formerly of Spring Moon at the Peninsula, uses his expertise in Cantonese cuisine and gives traditional dishes a contemporary twist. The menu is quite extensive with a good variety of dim sum dishes on offer. If you’re a bit of a Chinese tea buff, you might be interested in perusing their premium tea menu.Service is excellent, as to be expected, with the usual attentive waiters happily refilling your tea at every opportunity. The entire meal was a demonstration of refinement and impeccable presentation, starting off with three delightful dim sum dishes- golden shrimp dumplings with bamboo shoots and asparagus, shrimp and vegetable dumplings with spicy cod roe and the utterly divine baked barbecued pork buns with almond crust. The pork bun crust was just like that of a po lo bao (pineapple bun); a beautifully light crunchy pastry with that delicious sweet crusting giving way to the barbecued pork within.The double boiled chicken soup with fish maw, whilst refreshing and the chicken and maw tender, the soup itself was a tad too sweet and heavily infused by the coconut. The steamed crab claw with egg white in hua diao sauce was perfectly cooked and meaty, and the egg white silky smooth and of a good consistency.One of the most popular requests at Tin Lung Heen is the char-grilled barbecued Iberian pork (char siu) which was succulent and tender. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t eat more than three or four pieces as it was still quite heavy despite the leanness of the pork.The last main dish was surprisingly innovative and delectable- the pan-fried kurobuta pork stuffed with foie gras. The mere mention of foie gras would tell you that this was a rich dish. Luckily there were only two small parcels to feast on, and I enjoyed every morsel.To end we had a trio of little desserts- chilled milk jelly with black truffle, traditional baked custard tart with bird’s nest and a deep-fried sesame dumpling filled with egg custard. My favourite was the sesame dumpling. I loved the crisp exterior and the egg custard was wonderfully hot and buttery, with that fantastic sweet yet slightly salty tang to it. The black truffle with the milk jelly was unusual but an interesting flavor which gave the refreshing jelly some depth.Tin Lung Heen is the place to go if you want to impress first time visitors to Hong Kong and wow them with the views and treat them to an elegant meal. I’m confident it’ll be hanging on to its Michelin star, but it’ll be interesting to see what else Chef Lau can conjure up in the future, and if it’ll be climbing to dizzier heights.
Tin Lung Heen, 102/F The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon +852 2263 2263
I was quietly impressed with Sing Yin when I went. It’s certainly one of the few places where the decor really wows with it’s individuality and it makes for a great alternative to the usual suspects for dim sum. You can also read this review on Sassy.
The softly lit entrance of Sing Yin invites you to take a closer peek at what is hiding within. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it doorway, as it’s tucked away on the first floor on the W Hotel, but once you walk in, it’s hard not to be quietly impressed with the decor. Before I launch into the food, I have to gush a little about the interior. The architect and interior designer Steve Leung, has skilfully paired a sleek and modern design with features of old Hong Kong. I love the semi-private dining rooms which span the length of the passage on the way to the main dining area. It’s a clever and lovely feature and each ‘room’ has a theme which cheerfully reflects the streets of Hong Kong such as local groceries, boutiques and barbers. The rooms are separated by transparent Oriental frames and coupled with the muted colours of the restaurant, subtle lighting and soothing music in the background, it all makes for a wonderfully harmonious atmosphere. At the end of the passage is a nifty wall of clear glass fish tanks and LCD screens showing virtual marine life and real fish swimming along, which adds to the tranquil ambience. The main dining- room is equally ‘oohh-worthy’ with the walls proudly displaying the city’s skyline and the carpet an awesome copy of the map of the outlines of Hong Kong and Kowloon skyscrapers.
I had lunch in the gorgeous bird-cage themed semi-private room and experienced impeccable service, which included the waiter kindly giving me a chair for my handbag (very important for a girl of course, bonus points!). Chef Bryan Lee has created a menu that has a Cantonese focus, but which also encompasses elements of Northern and Southern cuisines, as reflected by his culinary travels in China. I was lucky enough to try eight of Sing Yin’s ‘must-try’ dishes, including their famous Lychee wood-fired crispy chicken which I eagerly anticipated, especially as it was seventh on the list!
To start, I had three excellent dumplings- deep fried abalone with wagyu beef, steamed whole abalone with sea moss and steamed hairy crab meat with minced pork and crab roe. I particularly enjoyed the deep fried dumpling, which had a fantastic crisp shell and a wonderful balance of beef and abalone flavours. Nothing is more addictive than the broth inside a xiao long bao, and the steamed hairy crab dumpling was fantastic. As I gently nibbled the side of the dumpling, the flavoursome broth escaped and in my panic, I lost some of the soup (so sad). In the end I had to opt for inelegance and popped the entire dumpling in my mouth before further loss! The double-boiled grain-fed quail soup was presented with a flourish in a scooped out papaya masquerading as a bowl. The sweetness of the papaya infused into the soup which had a real depth, I assume due to the double-boiling process, and was interestingly refreshing, cleansing my palate. An observation I made was the simplicity and elegance of all of Chef Lee’s dishes. The stir-fried fillet of garoupa was an excellent example of this, where the real pizzazz was in the taste. The garoupa was delicately seasoned and cooked to perfection, with the asparagus and Chinese wolfberries subtlely enhancing the fish’s mild flavour. Stir-fried diced Wagyu beef with crispy garlic is always a winner with me and again, the dish was uncomplicated in appearance, with the beef accompanied by a small receptacle of beansprouts which helped cut through the tiny amount but unavoidable grease of the meat. My only grouse is that the garlic slices weren’t nearly crispy enough. The main star of the menu, the lychee wood-fired crispy chicken, was truly luscious. I was glad I had paced myself for this dish, as it was well worth the wait. The chicken, I’m told, undergoes a fairly intense process of overnight seasoning, roasting with lychee wood and tea leaves, and then fired to the golden, glistening beauty that it is when it comes to your table. The skin was amazingly crisp, the chicken succulent and juicy with a faint hint of sweetness. The last dish was a ‘sichuan style’ soup noodles with enoki mushrooms and minced pork which was a surprisingly spicy finish to the meal and left me in a flustered but satisfied, bloated heap in my chair.
I managed to squeeze in a small dessert platter too!With the exquisite decoration, attentive service and an impressive menu with several stand-out dishes, the W Hotel has a fine restaurant on their hands. Sing Yin has a lovely nostalgic feel to it, and with those frames carefully shielding you and your friends from fellow dining companions, one can dine with absolute gusto and feast on that chicken with abandonment.
Sing Yin, 1/F W Hong Kong, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon Station, Hong Kong. 3717 2222
Quick recap- a few of us were lucky to be invited to indulge in an evening of wine and food over the celebration of the launch of the MH E&W iPad app, the idea which, if you recall, helps us pair wines with Asian dishes.
The dinner took place at Island Tang, Galleria Plaza in Central. Every time I go, the interior makes me imagine what a 1920s gentleman’s club would look like, with its bold lines, patterned art-deco carpet, retro paneling and cool looking chandeliers. FYI I usually go for their amazingly succulent, soft and tender Char Siu, so that night, it was the first time sampling different dishes from the norm.The event took place in one of their private rooms, where amongst fellow bloggers and quaffing a few glasses of wine, we ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the new iPad app and played with the iPad (of course).The dinner was a whopping 8 courses, which translated to a lot of booze that night, as it was a wine pairing event. I’m not the biggest wine drinker, so I was hoping that I wouldn’t fall in love with any of the wines presented and get stonkingly drunk at the table.To start we had the Island Tang appetizer delights- a slice of thousand year old egg, a couple of slices of roast pork to whet the appetite, chicken wing and salt and pepper tofu cubes. With this, we had a chance to try and compare the Chandon Brut and the Terrazas Reserva Malbec. Brut is always easy on the palate, it’s crisp, fresh and fruity. The Malbec was a lovely, soft red and had a wonderful fruity aroma.
The next course was a double-boiled meat ball with hairy crab soup which, unusually, was paired with a wine. We were all commenting on how Chinese cuisine always has soup, and that it was a challenge to see if a wine could be paired with a soup, especially as it’s liquid with liquid! On this occasion, the Cloudy Bay Pinot Gris was paired with it, and went rather well, though I think this was more to do with the giant meat ball than the soup base itself.The pan fried garoupa was accompanied by and complimented the Cloudy Bay Chardonnay. This particular way was more full bodied and creamy, an elegant drink with a fruity oakiness.
We were given both the Chandon Brut and the Cloudy Bay Chardonnay to try with the chicken fillet, and I decided that I preferred it with the Chardonnay. The bubbles and general stronger flavor of the Brut overwhelmed the chicken a bit.
Next was the stewed pig trotter with black truffle sauce, accompanied by the Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon. The flavours from the pig trotter were quite intense and the Cape Mentelle an equally punchy wine. I preferred having this dish with the Malbec as it wasn’t nearly as intense. I think my palate deals slightly better with subtler wines!
The braised Wagyu short rib, did however, go well with the Cape Mentelle, versus the braised goose web on egg noodles that went down very nicely with the Chardonnay.And so onto my downfall that night- the delectable Cloudy Bay Late Harvest Riesling, which had this gorgeous apricot taste and was so deliciously sweet (but not sickly sweet), that a few of us had to stop ourselves from downing whole bottles. It was meant to be taken with the mango pudding, but I have to confess I was more interested in my glass of nectar!
(My boozy line up for the night!)
And this was some of the damage from the evening!
Island Tang, Shop 222, The Galleria, 9 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong T: 2526 8798
Since the creation of the blog, nothing has got me more excited and chuffed than to be invited to events and schmooze with fellow foodie and drink enthusiasts. A few of these events have not only made me a happy, satiated bunny, but also a more knowledgeable one. I love learning new facts and learning more about F&B is so much fun, which explains why the Travel and Living channel is constantly on at home. I am such a nerd.
Anyway, there is a point to this spiel! I was lucky to be invited by Moët Hennessy Asia Pacific to experience the new Estates & Wines iPad app at a launch event, which was a wine pairing dinner with Cantonese fare at Island Tang. Moët Hennessy Estates & Wines Collection has created a free iPad app called “Flavours Asia”, based on their coffee table book, A Heavenly Wine Match with The Flavours of Asia.I’ll be the first to admit that up till earlier this year, I knew nuts about wine. Nuts = nada, nothing. Wine generally causes me to speak gibberish and adopt the colour of a fire engine truck, so I had taken to avoiding learning anything about wine as I couldn’t drink enough of it to appreciate it! However, after a session earlier this year with a sommelier that got me stonking sloshed as well, I’m a bit more clued up.This event was perfect to add to my growing wine knowledge base. But what does this swanky new iPad app do exactly? It helps clueless lemmings like myself, to pair different wines (from the Moët Hennessy range), with a variety of dishes from existing Asian restaurants in different countries. So, that means, if you decide to visit a particular restaurant and you’ve ordered, let’s say, a Thai red curry, you can simply navigate through the app and find the recommended wine. Wine pairing headache solved!It is notoriously difficult, so I’m told/hear/experienced myself, to pair wine successfully with Asian cuisine, simply because there are just too many different dishes and too many flavours.
This app is brilliant. It’s comprehensive, looks cool and it’s easy to navigate. On the front page, you can browse through articles on restaurants, wine trends, vineyards and there’s a spread on sommeliers. The sophisticated looking man featured on the Sommelier Spotlight, nosing a glass a wine, is none other than Arnaud Mirey, the brand ambassador, who was also at the event and excellently guided us through the wine pairings. You’ll find three categories- Pairings with Wine, Pairings with Food and Brand stories, which gives you background information on the vineyards.
The Pairings with Wine page is pretty as you get pictures of the wine bottles to click on! You can browse through them by taste, grapes, wine colour, country brand and awards. The Pairings of Food category is quite exciting. You can search via Cuisine (there are 12 countries that contribute: China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines), Flavours, (sour, salty, spicy, savoury, sweet), or Ingredients, (pork, noodles, shrimp etc).Pages on individual dishes tells you how the dish is prepared and gives you the recommended wine.If you’re looking at individual wines, the page gives you ratings and reviews, tasting notes and recommended dishes.
There’s a helpful map that shows you the location of the restaurants in a particular country and also where you can buy your wine from. A few things need to be tweaked and added to the app, such as linking the dishes to the restaurants, and adding more restaurants, but that is a work in progress!
Unfortunately, yours truly doesn’t have the iPad to even use this app, but if you have one, then click here, to download it for free! It’s only available for the iPad at the moment, but here’s hoping it will launched for Android and iPhone.
If you’re like me and are iPad-less, I am doing a fabulous giveaway of the BOOK VERSION- “The Flavours of Asia”. It’s a beautiful book with oodles of information and loads more detail on wine and food pairings recommendations. Obviously, if you can’t get your mitts on the wines recommended, you will still have the general gist of what would go well, so go forth and try out other wines.Many thanks to Moët Hennessy for inviting me to the event and for generously letting me have four copies of the book to give away!
I will be giving the books to HK residents ONLY.
All you need to do is:
1) Email me at chopstixfix AT gmail.com with the heading FLAVOURS ASIA, and tell me
a) Why you need the coffee table book (be imaginative please- for my amusement 😛 )
b) Which Asian dish you would most like to pair a wine with.
2) When you’ve done that, please go to my Facebook page and “Like” if you haven’t already, and write a post on my page saying “I LOVE WINE” 🙂
The first 15 people to successfully complete the above, will be entered into a random draw, and 4 names will be drawn out of a hat (literally!). I will notify the winners by email and sort out the collection.
If you would like to buy the book from Moët Hennessy, I think it’s around $250, and you can email me and I’ll get back to you with the relevant contact.