Wen Ding Restaurant
G/F-2/F 21-23 Tai Wong Street East, Wan Chai
Tel: 2520 6268
Open: 11am-4pm (Sunday and public holidays from 10am), 5.30-11pm
Price: about HK$380 without drinks or the service charge
Ambience: comfortable and elegant. Chandeliers hang from the high ceiling, which makes the room seem more spacious.
Pros: the staff are helpful. The food is more subtle and refined than other Ningbo meals we've tasted.
Cons: the menu is only in Chinese.
Recommended dishes: a cold dish of marinated turnip (HK$48) was crunchy, intense and refreshing. Wen Ding style fresh crab (HK$328), "cut into 18 pieces with home-made sauces which will impress customers with its wonderful taste", may have had a wordy description, but it was accurate. Marinated in a garlicky, slightly vinegary sauce that was cooling but potent, the raw crab was soft, jelly-like, and delicious. We ordered a bowl of lo mien (HK$36) to soak up the sauce after finishing the crab. Lion's head (HK$68 per person) wasn't the expected brown-sauce version. Served individually in a clear broth, the large meatballs were delicate and subtly seasoned. Smoked mackerel (HK$108) came coated in a sticky brown sauce, and the skin remained crunchy. Judge Pao beef ribs (HK$238) was almost like a Chinese version of pulled beef. The meat - served off the bone - was tender and stringy, with a slightly vinegary brown sauce. Pearl of the Orient (HK$158), also known as jin dui, was something that every table ordered, and we could see why. As large as a balloon, the hollow sphere of sesame seed-coated glutinous rice flour dough was light (well, as light as something fried could be) and chewy.
What else? The first and second floors are reserved for private parties, with rooms that have a minimum charge of HK$3,000 at lunch and HK$5,000 at dinner.