New restaurants in Wan Chai: elegant decor, excellent dishes and Instagram-friendly lighting
Shanghainese restaurant Xin Rong Ji impresses with its attentive service, quiet ambience and the high quality of its food, from sublime jellyfish and flavourful home-made sausage to perfectly cooked braised radish chips
It’s easy to tell who Xin Rong Ji in Wan Chai is targeting: as soon as you enter, you’re greeted in Mandarin, instead of Cantonese. That shouldn’t be surprising, though, because the original, which has a Michelin star, is in Shanghai.
It’s an elegant space, sparsely but beautifully decorated – although the dog sculpture on the staircase is a bit odd – with calligraphy, dried flower arrangements and bonsai. Service was attentive and the noise level was muted. The lighting is excellent, which makes taking photos of the food easy.
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It’s a brief menu by Chinese restaurant standards, with an emphasis on fish and vegetables. There’s very little poultry offered (we wanted the one chicken dish, but they had sold out) and not much meat. The quality of the food lives up to the environment, and the dishes came at a good pace.
We started off with jellyfish with home-made sauce (HK$268) which was, without doubt, the best and most interesting jellyfish dish I’ve eaten. The large pieces had an unusually crisp texture and were served in a light, cooling sauce with cucumber and slices of sweet raw onion.
Home-made pork sausage (HK$198) was recommended by the waitress. The sausage came sliced into thick pieces, and was intensely flavoured without being too salty. Although this was listed in the appetiser section, it would have gone well with rice.
Sautéed rice cakes with cuttlefish and cuttlefish ink sauce (HK$268) isn’t something you’ll want to eat on a date (black lips are not attractive) but we’d order it again without hesitation. The rice cakes were not overcooked and had a nice, chewy texture, the sauce was rich, the cuttlefish was tender and there were more of those delicious sweet onions.
We loved the braised tofu with preserved pork and black fungus (HK$268). We thought from the dish description that it was going to be a thick stew, but it turned out to be soup. The bean curd was fermented, which gave the whole dish a smoky, deep flavour, and was served in strong broth with large pieces of salted pork and dried shrimp.
From the “recommended seasonal specialities” we chose the dish of Xin Rong Ji braised radish chips (HK$168). One of my guests pointed out that we normally think of white radish as an accompaniment to meat, but here it was the main focus and it showed how excellent it can be if cooked correctly. The thick pieces were tender and didn’t have any bitter, gassy flavours.
The only dish we didn’t care for was the stewed ribs of black hog (HK$58 per piece, with a minimum order of two). The flavour was fine but the sauce was oily, and compared to everything else we’d eaten, this was nothing special.
Our dessert was steamed buns with pork lard filling (HK$18 per piece with a minimum order of two). The buns were large, softly textured and had the perfect sweet-savoury balance.
Xin Rong Ji, China Overseas Building, 138 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 3462 3516. About HK$600 per person without drinks or the service charge.
While you’re in the area: