New & noted: Hoi Wan Heen, Tsim Sha Tsui – traditional Chinese fare at its finest
The initially rather odd mix of Cantonese and Sichuan – subtle flavours vs strong – complimented each other beautifully, with the signature camphor smoked duck one of the best versions of the dish we’ve tasted
It’s been a long time since we visited Hullett House, the hotel and restaurant part of the former Marine Police headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui, which stands out as a welcome relief from the rest of the complex below because it’s tastefully done rather than garishly Disney-fied.
Restaurant Hoi Wan Heen, reached by going down a corridor then through a courtyard, is a lovely room – retro Chinese, without being kitsch.
The menu is a rather odd mix of Cantonese and Sichuan – subtle flavours vs strong. We ordered a few of each and the waiters, without being asked, brought the lighter dishes first so the stronger ones didn’t overwhelm our palates.
We suspected we were in for a good meal with the complimentary dish of wood ear fungus that was subtly spiced with Sichuan peppercorns.
An appetiser of steamed eggplant with deep-fried garlic in soy sauce (HK$68) was nice and light, and the garlic wasn’t too strong. We loved the deep-fried bean curd with home-made spices (HK$78). It was an excellent version of the dish with tender bean curd and a delicate crust.
The soup of the day (HK$68 per bowl) – lotus root with dried squid – was Cantonese soup at its finest, with a deep flavour. We couldn’t detect any monosodium glutamate.
The signature camphor smoked duck in Sichuan style (HK$188 for half) was one of the best versions of the dish I’ve tasted. The smokiness was just right, the meat was moist and the skin was crisp. Wok-fried string beans with pickled olives and minced pork (HK$118) had nicely shrivelled vegetables and a rich umami flavour from the pickles.
One of my guests found the boiled garoupa fillets with mung bean noodles in Sichuan chilli oil (HK$398) too spicy, but two of us thought the heat level was fine. The fish was tender and it and the other ingredients (which included celtuce and beansprouts) had soaked up the flavour of the light broth.
We finished the meal by sharing a bowl of double-boiled pear with chuan bei mu and ginseng (HK$88) – a warming, wintry dessert which refreshed our palates.
Hoi Wan Heen, Hullett House, 1881 Heritage, 2A Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 3988 0107. About HK$380 without drinks or the service charge.
While you are in the area:
Restaurant review: Imperial Treasure, Tsim Sha Tsui - delicious Chinese classics from Singapore chain