First impressions of Ying Jee Club – uber-posh Cantonese with echoes of nearby Duddell’s fare
Newly opened high-end Central restaurant with a chef from Duddell’s and similar decor served dishes that were well presented but hit and miss; HK$60 surcharge for non-bottled water a sting in the tail
Restaurant group ZS Hospitality has gone through some rocky partnerships since it was established in 2014. It terminated operations at chef Peter Cuong Franklin’s Viet Kitchen, seemingly without warning; abruptly parted ways with self-declared celebrity chef Harlan Goldstein, who ambitiously tried to open four restaurants in the span of a few months; and, more recently, closed chef Christian Mongendre’s Home Eat To Live, leaving many loyal vegetarian patrons wondering where to get their healthy meal fix.
But ZS Hospitality is pressing ahead, turning Ee Da Le and My Tai Tai in Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, into Japanese restaurants, and has recently opened the high-end Ying Jee Club where mid-priced Heichinrou used to be in Connaught Road, Central.
Is the Ying Jee Club competing head-to-head with Duddell’s? It hired a chef, Siu Hin-chi, from there and the interior even has a similar look and vibe, although this new restaurant includes little crystal kirin statues on each table and jade-tipped chopsticks.
The menu also has a few similar classic dishes, though some are more expensive, such as sautéed sliced garoupa with asparagus and morel mushrooms (HK$680 compared to HK$480 at Duddell’s, which omits the asparagus), making it uber-posh Cantonese dining.
Perusing the menu, we were quite surprised to find a section devoted to shark’s fin, considering ZS Hospitality’s chairwoman, Elizabeth Chu Yuet-han, says she is concerned about the environment.
The evening we went was quiet, with three tables occupied in the main dining area and a party in one of the private rooms; as a result, many staff were milling around, constantly changing plates and refilling tea cups. Surprisingly, there was a lengthy wait between dishes.
We started our meal with the decadent-sounding steamed egg white with king prawn topped with crab roe (HK$420 per person). The dish was expertly executed and beautifully presented, with an edible flower on top. The fresh, crunchy king prawn contrasted with the smoothness of the egg white, which was flavoured with crab roe.
We also tried the stir-fried king prawn with sweet and chilli sauce (HK$320). The prawn was delicate and nicely presented, but didn’t have much taste without the sauce, which wasn’t spicy. It was served with crunchy rice crackers.
Our half portion of salt-baked chicken (HK$280) was most disappointing. The skin was crisp, but the meat was dry.
Finally, we had poached seasonal vegetables with dried seafood in fish soup (HK$140 each). It included sliced abalone, fish maw, lots of dried shrimps and conpoy, as well as young vegetables in the rich, creamy-looking broth. It would have been better had it been served hotter.
We had just enough room for dessert. Glutinous rice rolls filled with custard egg yolk cream and shredded coconut (HK$54) fell short – they were dry because they didn’t have much custard. The golden-fried glutinous and sesame dumplings (HK$54) had a filling of lotus paste and banana, but it wasn’t balanced; there was too much of the former and not enough of the latter.
We don’t mind paying for high-quality food and service, but we were surprised to find a HK$60 surcharge on our bill for tea and condiments when we only had warm water that didn’t come from a bottle.
Ying Jee Club, Shop G05, Nexxus Building, 41 Connaught Road Central, Central, tel: 2801 6882
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