Sha Tin 18
4/F Hyatt Regency Sha Tin, 18 Chak Cheung Street, Sha Tin
Tel: 2723 1234
Open: 11.30am-3pm, 5.30pm-10.30pm
Ambience: The focus of Sha Tin 18 is the four open kitchens - one for noodles and dumplings, a wok kitchen, another where the barbecue chef roasts meats and a pastry kitchen. Our table overlooked the busy wok kitchen, and we could hear the roar of the blazing fire and see flames leaping out of the woks as dishes were stir-fried.
Pros: Service was efficient and helpful from the time we booked the table, when we were asked if we wanted to pre-order a Peking duck, to the time we left. The menu lists many unusual Chinese provincial dishes.
Cons: We liked the dish of crisp fried river sprats with tiny, whole, head-on shrimp, chives and peanuts (HK$98) but it would be better served as a smaller portion, or shared; it was too much for us to eat on its own. Dessert of ginger custard (HK$40) hadn't coagulated properly - it was too thin, with the consistency of silken bean curd.
Recommended dishes: We had three in our party, so I pre-ordered half a duck (HK$218, or HK$398 for whole, left). A barbecue chef brought a whole, steaming-hot duck to our table and skilfully carved half of it, serving skin on one plate, thin slices of meat on another, and a third plate of meat edged with skin. The skin was unlike any Peking duck we've had - it was so delicate it melted in the mouth. On the advice of the waitress, we ate it with a sprinkling of sugar, which enhanced the pure flavour of the crisp skin. The skin is best eaten on its own. The meat slices - which were slightly dry - and the meat-and-skin pieces were better wrapped in the thin pancakes and eaten with the traditional accompaniments of spring onion, cucumber and duck sauce. Roasted pork belly (HK$98) had crunchy skin, a thin layer of fat and moist meat. It was served with hot mustard, but it was even better dipped into the mustard oil that was on the condiments plate. Be warned, though, the mustard oil is as sinus-clearing as dried wasabi, so just a drop or two will do. Pan-fried Xian pork belly dumplings (HK$68) featured thin, resilient wrappers and soupy, intensely meaty filling. The surprise hit of the meal was mustard greens with bean curd and shallots (HK$78). The bitter greens were crisp-tender, the slightly chewy bean curd skin had absorbed the light but strongly flavoured sauce and the small, whole shallots were sweet. Desserts are creative: we enjoyed the red date clafouti with jasmine milk tea ice cream (HK$52) and candied longan peanut brownie with sesame ice cream (HK$52).
What else? The restaurant has five private dining rooms that seat six to 12.