New restaurants in Hong Kong: Ding’s Club traditional Cantonese menu hits all the right notes
- Celebrity chef Steve Lee Ka-ding and chef Li Cheung have created a nostalgic – but pricey – menu for the Central restaurant
- The pork cake, char sui and wok-fried rice noodles are absolutely delicious
My guests and I were prepared to be disappointed at Ding’s Club as many of the other reviews were paying more attention to the restaurant’s namesake – actor-turned-celebrity chef Steve Lee Ka-ding – than they were to the food.
The prices at the restaurant could also be off-putting. While this is the cheaper option to elder sibling, Ding’s Kitchen, in Causeway Bay, it would be very easy to spend HK$1,000 or more per person. The nine-course “Ding’s recommended set meal” is HK$988 plus 10 per cent (for a minimum of two diners) while the 10-course tasting menu is HK$1,688.
We ordered carefully from the à la carte selection. There were only three of us but with what we ordered we could have easily fed one more, which would have made the meal a reasonable (for the quality) HK$500 per person.
The char siu, or “barbecued pluma pork in flame – Ding’s style” (HK$328) was the first indication that the food would be more subtle than at many other restaurants. The waiter poured alcohol over the meat, which came on a rack set over a metal plate, then lit it. He turned over the thick slices and let them char in the flames, before letting us eat. Initially, it seemed bland – it was far less sweet than other versions. But the more we ate, the more we tasted the succulent fat, the tender meat and the rich flavour of caramelised sugar.
Soy sauce chicken with sand ginger, onion and garlic in casserole (HK$308 for half, HK$598 for whole) was just fantastic. The meat was moist and perfectly cooked, and the sauce was light but you could really taste the high quality of the soy sauce. It was so good we ordered bowls of rice so we could eat more of the sauce.
Sautéed prawns with salted egg yolk (HK$428) had the “recommended dish” icon. The large prawns, coated in the grainy mashed salted egg yolk, were fresh and had a crisp, bouncy bite.
We couldn’t resist the homey “pork cake” that we saw being served to another table: steamed minced pork with sun-dried and fresh squid, and vintage dried tangerine peel (HK$298). This was far better than any version we’d tasted at home (sorry, grandma!); the hand-minced ingredients were incredibly delicate in texture and flavour. More rice was needed with this one.
Another recommended dish was the wok-fried rice noodles with sliced beef and sprouts (HK$238). It was absolutely delicious. There were plenty of sprouts and onions, which made it lighter, and the noodles were separate but not oily. The beef – which came in surprisingly thick pieces – was also very tender.
The only dish that fell onto the bland side was the seasonal pea shoots (HK$218). While they were very young and had been thoroughly trimmed of the tough stems, the dish needed just a touch more salt.
Ding’s Club, 23/F H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, tel: 2327 1398. About HK$650 without drinks or the service charge.