Tai Hei Hing Shark's Fin Restaurant

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 October, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 October, 2000, 12:00am

The number of reservations at fine eateries is often an accurate indicator of the economic climate. So the crowd at Tai Hei Hing - a restaurant specialising in abalone, shark's fin and bird's nest - on a recent Sunday evening is probably proof that for many people, the recession is now a thing of the past.

As expected, the menu boasts a vast selection of extravagant delicacies, but simple Cantonese dishes are also available. One of my guests started with double boiled fish maw and chicken soup ($75 per person), which I avoided as it contained snake meat. Nonetheless, it struck me as an impressive choice, with generous portions of the ingredients swimming in a rich broth. Those who take pleasure in eating snake will like the pungent flavour that the meat brings.

At $380, the fish maw with goose webs did not come cheap. But the quality of the fish maw was unrivalled, with its succulent texture and natural taste, and the goose webs were impressively tender. A rich brown sauce brought out the best of the two ingredients and gave the dish a grand finish.

By now the number of patrons had reached its peak and the service became painfully slow. After the soup and the fish maw, our expectation of the other dishes was high but they turned out to be uninspiring. The sweet and sour king prawns ($98) were fresh but the batter was soggy and the sauce lukewarm. Chinese cabbage in chicken broth ($115) came in a generous portion but that was about the only thing that impressed. The cabbage was slightly brown in colour and although Yunnan ham added flavour, the broth had a strong taste of MSG. Steamed pork with shrimp paste ($78) was also a letdown as the pork was chewy and lacking in flavour.

Dinner for three, including service and tip, came to $920. Despite the high quality of the marine delicacies and the generous portions, we could have had a similar meal at any other establishment - at a much lower price.

G/F-5/F, 15A Matheson Street, Causeway Bay. Tel: 2507 2200. Open: 11am-11pm. $$$$