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
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
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
On the back of our Ghetto Dim Sum meal in Mong Kok last week, my friend G suggested that we go back to HK Island and have dinner with him at another Michelin starred establishment. I’d vaguely heard about Tim’s Kitchen before but I didn’t realise that it holds 2 Michelin stars, and it’s Macau counterpart holds 1 Michelin star.
Tim’s Kitchen is hidden away on a quiet street in Sheung Wan, but those in the know, like G, always make a reservation a few days in advance to avoid disappointment. This small and compact private kitchen serves up Traditional Cantonese food and was started by the former head chef of Hang Seng Bank. It was made famous and rewarded with its Michelin star because the chef whips up these dishes through pain of long hours, even days of preparation ( like our forefathers used to) and dragging himself to the market every morning to collect fresh ingredients. Not many restaurants serve classical Cantonese food anymore purely because of the time it takes to prepare half of these dishes!
There is a pre-order menu which allows customers to order the more complicated dishes a few days in advance of their meal. Such dishes include preparations with shark’s fin and bird’s nest, fresh conch, braised pomelo skin (apparently takes a few days to prepare) and baby pigeon. These dishes obviously hoik up the prices a bit compared to the regular menu from which you can order when you get there. We decided to forego the pre-order menu on this occasion and go with the good ol’ regular one on the night.
G warned us that we might not be able to find it as it doesn’t have “TIM’S KITCHEN” emblazoned on the front of the restaurant, so he helpfully emailed and said that it looks like this:
This however, did not prevent J from completely missing the restaurant and walking straight past and it wasn’t until G started waving wildly at him from the back of the restaurant (a futile task) that the waiter noticed and had to run outside to fetch him! Someone obviously wasn’t paying attention to the warning email 😛
Tim’s Kitchen has no corkage which may please some of you out there as that means you can bring in whatever tipple you like, and if that’s Strongbow cider or an Smirnoff Ice, then so be it. There is a conveniently positioned wine shop opposite the restaurant which must make a killing from customers dashing out to buy an emergency bottle of wine or bubbly.
Having failed to bring our own bottle, the 2 boys popped out to peruse the wine selection in the shop. After what seemed like ages, G returned (he got bored of looking and hunger took over), minus J. Then the 1st dish arrived-sauteed dried scallops with fresh crabmeat and scrambled egg. I debated for approximately 1.5 seconds whether we should wait for J but it looked like the wine lady had taken a shine to him and was in the middle of a lecture possibly titled “Wine through the ages”, so I made the executive decision to start eating without him hehe.
J eventually escaped the clutches of the wine lady and returned with a bottle of red recommended by his new friend, which I must say was quite pleasant and went well with the food. But enough on the beverage, I’m here to talk about Tim’s food!
The scallop dish was lovely. As all the ingredients were sauteed very delicately, the flavours were well preserved. Although Tim’s focuses mainly on seafood, their chicken dishes are also excellent and this was highlighted by the next serving of crispy chicken. The meat was so succulent and yet the skin was gorgeous and crispyand not too greasy.
I’m always on the look out for steamed pork with salty egg as it’s one of my favourite dishes my Dad cooks (a recipe passed down from my Grandma) so I was delighted and slightly too excited when I spotted it on the menu. I think I’m probably a little biased when I say that that was my favourite dish of the night, but it did taste fantastic and was almost as good as my Dad’s (but nothing ever tastes as good as when a parent cooks your childhood favourite dish). There was enough soup/gravy to smother my rice with and the pork was tender. Sometimes the salty egg can be too salty and overwhelm a dish. If you’re not careful and you add even more salt to your meat when you’re cooking then the whole dish tastes like you’ve emptied half a salt pot into your mouth. This of course would never occur in such an establishment as Tim’s and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, eating probably more than my fair share.
I thought I was still eggplant phobic after Toba Nagoya, but the stewed eggplant with minced pork and salty fish sauce was excellent and moreish. I marvelled at the vivid purple of the eggplant which really made the dish standout.
Our last dish was fried noodles with BBQ pork and spring onions. I am going to sit on the fence with this one as I’m not terribly keen on lots of spring onions in my food anyway and in this case, I felt that there were definitely more spring onions than pork. The noodles probably only needed a garnishing of onions but some people love liberal amounts of spring onion so I’ll leave it up to you to decide.
The dessert of the evening was ginkgo nut and beancurd sheet soup. Now the funny thing is that the beancurd and soup was yummy and sweet but the gingko nuts had an unusual essence of garlic infused in them. This garlic taste got progressively stronger as I chewed through all of the gingko nuts. I’m fairly sure that this was not the intention of Tim’s, so I can only surmise that the knife used to slice the nuts in half, was also used to cut garlic. Oh well, I enjoyed the soup though!
Chopstick rating: 3.5/5 (for now, when we return to eat some of the seafood and the pre-order dishes, I’ll review again!)
Tim’s Kitchen, G/F, 93 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan. Tel: 2543 5919. Open daily for lunch and dinner (closed Sundays and public holidays)
$$$$$$$$$$ (for dishes taken from regular menu- expect $300+ per head for dishes from the pre-order menu)