New ways of cooking and skilful use of different ingredients extend the boundaries of an ancient cuisine
Above & Beyond
28/F, Hotel Icon
17 Science Museum Road
Tsim Sha Tsui East
AMBIENCE Panoramic views of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. The interior has lots of dark wood and contemporary furniture.
COST Dinner for two with tea was HK$1,192.
WHO TO BRING Close friends and family for a special occasion.
TURN-ONS The suggestion of crispy five spice sliced Angus beef brisket was a delicious start. The meat was slightly crispy on the outside, very tender inside. We also enjoyed the Welsh lamb fillet, bite-sized pieces that were stir-fried with assorted onions that brought out a combination of flavours. The bresse pigeon smoked with oolong tea leaves had a subtle taste. For dessert, the double-boiled red dates and dried longnan was refreshing. Points for creativity should be handed out for the chocolate ice cream with the Chinese fiery spirit Wuliangye, as the former tempered the hotness of the latter.
TURN-OFFS It was a pity the steamed lobster was overcooked on a bed of egg white. We were underwhelmed by the stewed vegetables with bean curd sheets and gingko in a fish broth. The citron honey-coated crispy egg twists were too tart.
DRINKS Extensive wine list and prices to fit various budgets. Brernice Chan
2/F, J Residence
18 Ship Street
FARE 'X-treme' Chinese cuisine.
AMBIENCE Laid-back terrace out front and a cosy dining area.
COST HK$5,160 for two, including wine pairings.
WHO TO BRING Adventurous companions.
TURN-ONS Fresh oyster topped with ginger foam was an interesting combination, while smoked quail egg on top of crispy taro garnished with caviar was a nice play on textures and temperatures. Another interesting dish was pan-fried foie gras with ice cream. We also liked the tomato three ways. The bowl of wagyu beef, beef tendon and one thick rice noodle was delicious.
TURN-OFFS The molecular xiao long bao looked intriguing but tasted fuzzier than the essence of the steamed pork dumpling, while the dessert of egg waffles with shaved black truffles did not work.
DRINKS Wines paired with the set menu are deliciously well matched. Brernice Chan
Sha Tin 18
4/F, Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Sha Tin
18 Chak Cheung Street
FARE Cantonese and Dongguan.
AMBIENCE Contemporary with wood floors, open kitchens and a relaxing view of greenery.
COST HK$1,606 for dinner for two including tea.
WHO TO BRING Friends and family.
TURN-ONS The appetiser combination was enough for double the number of diners but was a good selection, including marinated sliced beef, wood ear fungus with jellyfish, cucumber in black Chinese vinegar, char siu and roast pork. The braised bird's nest soup with crab meat and Yunnan ham was hearty and delicate, while the marinated winter melon had a delicate taste of preserved plums. We also liked the stir-fried prawns in pumpkin and salted egg yolk and the various desserts, including the fuyu, or fermented bean curd cheesecake.
TURN-OFFS We waited a long time for our main dishes.
DRINKS An international wine list, cocktails and selection of Chinese wines and teas. Brernice Chan
6/F, Langham Place
555 Shanghai Street
Mong Kok, Kowloon
AMBIENCE With displays of Ming dynasty artefacts, the space demands a quiet, almost reverent clientele.
WHO TO BRING Older family members.
COST HK$1,500 for two with drinks.
TURN-ONS The menu highlights its award-winning dishes including a two-part course that won a 2005 Michelin gold award. It starts with a crispy, cheese-coated lobster resting alongside a sumptuous abalone. Angel hair pasta is dressed at the table with a hot and sour soup, bringing to a crescendo this fusion dish. It comes with dessert, a marshmallow rabbit, chrysanthemum tea and goji berry jelly and a fried taro puff. Another winner is the grapefruit peel, a traditional dish.
TURN-OFFS The 2011 gold dish is a Shaoxing wine-scented fried rice casserole. It is hard to find fault but, if pushed, the chicken pieces could have been more discernible and more wine added.
DRINKS The tea menu offers an aged pu'er that is distinctively smoother than the house version. There is a range of wines, beers and spirits to please all palates. Lana Lam
Podium Level 3
8 Finance Street
AMBIENCE High ceilings with views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island.
COST HK$788 dinner for two, including tea.
WHO TO BRING Family and friends for a special occasion or to entertain clients.
TURN-ONS The meal began with minced beef broth with crabmeat and egg white. We also enjoyed the Angus beef tenderloin, although the diced goose liver was lost when it was stir-fried in the wok. The stewed whole tomato was interesting, as it was stuffed with mixed mushrooms and fungus, topped with gingko and dressed with greens. For dessert we enjoyed the purple rice glutinous dumpling filled with blueberry, while the double-boiled milk had a subtle taste of lychee puree.
TURN-OFFS The pan-fried cod fillet with pomelo sauce was too tart, while the strawberries did not add much to the sweet and sour pork. The air conditioning was not adjusted for dinner, so we and our food were cold by the end.
DRINKS International wine list, Chinese wines and teas. Brernice Chan
Tin Lung Heen
102/F, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong
International Commerce Centre
1 Austin Road West,
AMBIENCE Floor-to-ceiling windows give a spectacular view of the west side of Victoria Harbour.
COST Around HK$2,400 for dinner for two, including two beers and two glasses of wine.
WHO TO BRING Friends or overseas visitors.
TURN-ONS Char-grilled barbecued Iberian pork is a refined version of char siu. With a good balance of lean meat and fat, it is delicious. The presentation of the double-boiled chicken with fish maw in baby coconut is eye-catching, with the steaming soup served in a coconut shell. The use of fa diu, a Chinese wine, goes well with the fresh taste of crab meat and steamed egg white, which fills the bottom of the plate.
TURN-OFFS The pickled vegetables in stewed chicken with preserved vegetables is a little sweet and overwhelms the taste of the chicken.
DRINKS A selection of Chinese teas and more than 750 wines in a wide price range. Keith Chan
LG/F, Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel
1 Castle Peak Road
AMBIENCE Generic-looking dining area, but tables in a tented section give a more relaxed atmosphere.
COST HK$1,456 for two, including tea.
WHO TO BRING Friends and family for a special occasion.
TURN-ONS A creative starter of three items consisted of a steamed shrimp dumpling, deep-fried taro with cheddar cheese and a sweet rice cake. Crispy prawns coated with pomelo sauce and yuzu were refreshing, while the double-boiled almond soup with fish maw and tendon was nourishing. The baked crab shell stuffed with crab meat, mushroom, onion and mozzarella cheese was hearty and flavourful.
TURN-OFFS The pigeon fillet rolled with fish maw, jin hua ham and string bean in crab roe sauce was a bit tough. Seared star grouper fillet didn't have much taste between the layers of spinach, carrot and plain egg whites.
DRINKS Tea, red and white wines, beer. Brernice Chan