Celebrated chef Ivan Li serves up some imperial delights at Tin Lung Heen

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 July, 2012, 12:00am


If your palate craves a taste of aristocracy, Ritz-Carlton's one-starred Michelin restaurant, Tin Lung Heen, presents an elite treat.

The Chinese restaurant has invited Ivan Li Xiaolin to highlight the famed Family Li Imperial Cuisine for a week-long promotion, which runs until Saturday.

Li's great grandfather headed the kitchen of the imperial court and was a favourite chef of Qing dynasty Empress Dowager Cixi. Li inherited the family legacy and recipes - which survived the Cultural Revolution. He and his relatives started cooking in 1984 at the back of their own siheyuan (a traditional Beijing residence, literally a courtyard surrounded by four buildings).

A private kitchen-style offering at the outset, the restaurant soon attracted foodies and was frequented by embassy officials in the capital, along with a host of global notables. They included former British prime minister Edward Heath, Nobel Prize laureate Yang Zhenning and Microsoft boss Bill Gates.

The restaurant has since branched out with Family Li Imperial Cuisine to Shanghai, Tianjin and Tokyo. Its Tokyo branch earned two Michelin stars in 2008.

Li is now in town with wife Carrie Kwan Yuk-ching, who used to work as a public relations officer in another Hong Kong hotel and fell in love with the food and the chef when he first visited Hong Kong more than a decade ago.

The menu features 18 dishes from Li's collection of Imperial recipes including Cixi's favourite mung bean curd. The menu, priced at HK$980 per person, also includes seafood dishes such as sauteed spotted garoupa and braised geoduck clams with asparagus, designed to accommodate Hong Kong gourmands.

'For 27 years, we kept the tradition of offering only a set menu so the guests can eat like an emperor who used to have hundreds of dishes at each meal,' said Kwan. Some of the ingredients, sauces and tableware were flown in from Beijing.

'We brought six suitcases in travelling to Hong Kong and five of them were filled with ingredients,' said Kwan, laughing.

The menu is also available for lunch - if your aristocratic palate has the best part of three hours to epicure.