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Hong Kong: TOP END Chinese Food, price not an issue

I am starting this thread to continue my discussion with Asomaniac (based in Tokyo) from the Singapore Board.

Asomaniac recently was told by his Hong Kong friend, who tried the Michelin graded Chinese restaurants in Tokyo, that the top end Chinese restaurants in Tokyo , in terms of innovation and the best ingredients used, are even better than the top end in Hong Kong. Being a frequent traveler to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Vancouver and living currently in Singapore, I was really surprised by his comment as I always thought Hong Kong is the best when it comes to Chinese cuisine. Despite being a frequent traveler to Tokyo, I have never even bothered to try the Chinese food there (with the exception of Nanxiang Xiao Long Bao in Roppong Hill).

Anyway, Asomaniac is coming to Hong Kong in June and requested me to provide a few top end names to share with his Hong Kong foodie friend (though I understand not the same one as above). I thought it is better to continue the discussion here to get more responses. So any native Honkies (HKTraveler, Peech.....), any frequent visitors (CharlesYu, klyeoh, skyliner33, kobetobiko....) or anyone else familiar with the Chinese scene in Hong Kong, we want to hear your voice. What is the top end Chinese restaurant (not limited to Cantonese, any Chinese will do even though I think Cantonese would be the dominant one) here when price is not an issue?

A few note, Asomaniac is a serious foodie, willing to pay top money for serious good food. A wine lover as well (Peech: your type of foodie), a frequent traveler to Hong Kong, he is not a typical tourist in search of guidance. What he is looking for is the very best, the top end Chinese food that would be nominated for Michelin list if ever it come out with a guide in Hong Kong. Again, price is not an issue. Any response?

P.S: Since the menu of most Chinese restaurants is so wide, I suggest to include your favorite signature dish from that particular top end restaurant, the dish that would wow any serious foodies out there.

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  1. Since I started this thread, let me start with my own favorite list of restaurants when I visit Hong Kong. For my own personal preference, ambiance and wine list are not important factors. I have written most of them in the past threads, so I will try to be brief and limit to just 5 recommendations.

    1. My favorite is actually hole in the wall Sheung Hing Chiu Chow Restaurant in 37-39 Queen's Road West at Sheung Wan. You don't come here for the ambiance; the owner has obviously not invested his profit in the interior as it look the same as it was 30-40 years ago. And you may misunderstand this is a cheap place by its appearance. It is also the most intimidating on my list for any non-Chinese visitor; English menu is not available or spoken here. Location is also not convenient. But it is a top notch Chiu Chow food. Price can be cheap or very expensive, depends on what you order. I had the best shark fin ( 紅燒潮州翅) here or anywhere else, very delicious cold crab (冷蟹), the best sauteed whelk (螺片). These three alone will probably set you HK$1,500 or more per person. The others would be much more reasonable: Chiu Chow braised goose (鵝片), oyster omelet (蠔仔煎).

    2. Next is Lei Garden at IFC. I previously went to its Wanchai branch but has since then gone to the IFC branch when it opened here. A top notch Cantonese restaurant, I usually go with a group of Hong Kong friends (6-8 persons) and provide a budget (average HK$700-800 per person; if willing to splurge, the captain will happily accomodate your wish for even higher budget) for the captain to arrange a tasting menu of seasonal and chef specialties of 7-8 courses. It never disappoint me. Lei Garden also has the best daily slow-cooked soup 老火湯 with herbal medicine and meat simmered for many hours that is traditionally very popular with Cantonese families. In winter time, don't forget to order 蠟味飯 preserved sausage over the rice clay pot.

    3. My third favorite is Da Ping Huo at L/G Hilltop Plaza, 49 Hollywood Rd at Central. This is a Sichuan "private kitchen", which means it is a fixed menu of 8-9 courses at HK$280 per person, extremely good value, in my opinion. Though it is a personal favorite, it is unfortunately not favored by most of my Hong Kong friends, and the main reason is the food is very spicy, even though the owner chef has toned down in recent years to suit the local taste bud. I think this is why the clientele tend to be Mainland Chinese and the expatriate population here. But it is better than any Sichuan restaurant I tried whether in Guangzhou, Shanghai or Beijing.

    4. 富聲魚翅海鮮酒家 Fu Sing at 1/F Sunshine Plaza at Lockhart Rd is a place where I come for 2-3 specific dishes. The chef owner was from the legendary Victoria Harbour Centre at Wanchai, which I recalled 1 or 2 decades ago was ranked by New York Times as one of the best restaurants in the world. I come specifically for its flower crab (花 蟹) on hua tiao (花雕) sauce, and then the chef will mix the remaining sauce on the noodle (伊麵) at the end of the meal. Another memorable dish is the 蝦子生菜煲 lettuce with prawn paste on a pot. If it is hairy crab season, don't forget to order the crab roe xiao long bao, which is the best xiao long bao I ever had, better than Ding Tai Fong or any place in Shanghai. If you come for lunch, don't forget the char siu 叉烧

    5. Chung's Cuisine at Times Square is the place I come for braised goose feet (紅燒鵝掌) mix with fish maw (花膠) (when on budget) or abalone (鮑魚) (when you want to splurge) in abalone sauce. The abalone sauce has such a delicious flavor that you can order a bowl of rice to mix the sauce on top of it to enhance the meal. The other dishes are also pretty good here and the ambiance is quite comfortable with an open kitchen concept. I have not been here for the last 2 years so I hope the standard is still consistent.

    On another note, one top end name that has been frequently mentioned by many is Foo Lam Moon, the legendary name frequent by the tycoons in town. I have gone there recently for Dim Sum, which is just average, but have not been back for dinner for a long time (like 15 years). I am told by a friend that unless you are a regular client or a tycoon/politician/celebrity, you are treated more like a 2nd class citizen, which put me off from visiting the place.

    14 Replies
    1. re: FourSeasons

      I'd be curious to know what anyone thinks of Bo Innovation, Alvin Leung's molecular gastronomy Chinese place.

      1. re: johnb

        I was just at Bo Innovation a week ago, and I really enjoyed it. Not a place if you're looking for traditional Chinese, but definitely if you're looking for an inventive experience. Highly recommended, and not a place most people will know about.

        I have also heard that Lung King Heen (4/F, Four Seasons Hotel) is one of the more amazing experiences for traditional, but quality Cantonese restaurant.

        Another experience I just had was at the Dirty Duck Diner, also/formerly known as Bebek Bengil 3 (5/F Broadway Building, Wan Chai). Even though the name may not imply it, the atmosphere is very nice, albeit not formal. Mind blowingly great Indonesian food, for mind blowngly great prices. They have one tasting menu that is about HK$250/person, but you get a ridiculous amount of food, all of it great. The nice thing (especially for foodies) is that the staff takes pride in each meal and explains each dish to you and is happy to talk about it. Highly recommended, even though it may not fit the classic definition of "high end".

      2. re: FourSeasons

        Hmmm.... I probably wouldn't consider the list posted by FourSeasons as traditionally at the "top" end of HK foodie's list... I think they are all good restaurants but not quiet Michelin-star worthy. Here is my list along with the blogposts from the last few months. I'm not plugging my blog...it's just easier for you to read the descriptions there.

        Fook Lam Moon definitely ranks somewhere near the top if you are looking for high end and money is no object. I was just there last Friday evening and did not even order shark's fin or abalone. But you need someone to book a private room and order all the good dishes for you in advance, as a normal walk-in to the regular dining room does not get the same level of service. Certainly the shark's fin and abalone are excellent if they are your thing. So is the suckling pig and fried giant pomfret. Here are the blogposts from my last two visits and you can see we ordered very similar dishes...but FLM has 3 branches in Japan so Asomaniac may be referring to his experiences there.


        I would also list a few other places at the top of Canto cuisine:

        4th floor of Yung Kee - the private club floor. They have amazing dishes that you don't get when you go to the regular dining room. Blogpost: http://chi-he-wan-le.blogspot.com/200...

        China Club - I used to hate the food at China Club until I sampled the special menu prepared by their chef. Again this is where you need to know people to get the chef to do something special. blogpost: http://chi-he-wan-le.blogspot.com/200...

        Yan Toh Heen at the InterCon - I have always loved this restaurant from when it was still Lai King Heen. They have a great view of HK if you can get a table by the window, and do excellent steamed fish along with very good sharks fin.

        Tim's Kitchen - a little private kitchen in Sheung Wan with an outpost in the Hotel Lisboa in Macau. Really high end stuff with giant prawns, giant crab claws, but also has homey dishes.

        Cuisine Cuisine in IFC - never thought much of it until my experence in January asking the chef to set up something special. Snake soup with sharks' fin is his specialty but this is prob a winter dish. blogpost: http://chi-he-wan-le.blogspot.com/200...

        1. re: Peech

          Hi Peech:

          5 Chinese restaurants in Tokyo are qualified in the Michelin list. Foo Lam Moon is not one of them so it is not the one Asomaniac's friend referred to. So if even the legendary Hong Kong's name is not even in that list, then there may be some truth that the top end Chinese restaurants in Tokyo are even better than those in Hong Kong, even though we are not sure if the standard of FLM in Tokyo is the same as in Hong Kong. Maybe someone who has tried both places can provide a review. But don't go to FLM for the Dim Sum, it is just so so average and not worthy of its legendary name.

          Unfortunately, my experience in Yung Kee in last few years was a big thumb down, even the roost goose was a let down and the rest unmemorable. But then I was not in the private club floor. Is that opened to the public?

          I had good experience in China Club, but I am not a member, so have to wait for a buddy who is kind enough to invite me there again.

          I have heard great things about the other three places but never had the opportunity to visit them. I guess they will be on my list on the next trip.

          Thanks for the recommendation.

          1. re: FourSeasons

            I had a disappointing meal at Yung Kee last night.
            The sauces of the roast goose and abalone dishes I had had cooled to the point of being gelatinous. The serving of goose itself was mostly skin, fat, and bones, with much less meat than I had expected (perhaps because I ordered a small serving, called "regular" on the menu, as opposed to a half or whole goose? I've never ordered goose in a Chinese restaurant before, but I have ordered duck many times, and this seemed to be much less meat than what I've gotten with orders of duck). The meat was delivered about 5 minutes before the rice.
            In the end I was left with the feeling of having paid a premium to eat like a tourist (and I don't mean that in a good way).

            If you do choose to eat here, and can't get an invite to the private club on the fourth floor, don't make the mistake I made of accepting the table at the entrance. The doors open every couple of minutes, letting a blast of cold air onto your food, at least during the cooler months.

            1. re: racer x

              I avoid Yung Kee like the plague and would only go to the fourth floor...

              1. re: Peech

                Hi Peech:

                How do you get to the fourth floor? Do you have to be a member?

                1. re: FourSeasons

                  I was invited by a friend but I think anyone can book. They just serve more 'high-end' dishes. I know I've got the manager's card somewhere...

                  FYI here's my blogpost from my only dinner there: http://chi-he-wan-le.blogspot.com/200...

                  I thought the char siu was awesome, the duck soup was amazing, and many other dishes were done very well. Of course I never saw the bill so have no idea how much it cost... =)

                  1. re: Peech

                    OK I just had one of the best Cantonese dinner in the last year (if not the best) at Yung Kee 8th floor. The menu was put together by Mr. Kam, the owner of Yung Kee. 7 of us spent around HKD 15k I believe. The steamed giant labird (蘇眉) was hands down the best steam fish I have had in a very long time. It just shows you what this place can do when you're prepared to spend a little more money.

                    Here's my blogpost on the dinner: http://chi-he-wan-le.blogspot.com/200...

                    1. re: Peech

                      @ Peech: Not just spend a little money: know someone who knows Mr. Kam.

        2. re: FourSeasons

          In particular to 紅燒潮州翅 - how do you compare this place (Sheung Hing Chiu Chow Restaurant) to Yaowarat - if I have been there? I am going to both HK and Bangkok, and 潮州翅 is the best way I like them to cook shark fins.

          1. re: shengtang

            Yaowarat's sharksfin seemed more "chewy" (al dente?), but that's the way Thais prefer them.

            1. re: shengtang

              Have never tried Yaowarat, so not able to compare. But the sharkfin in Sheung Hing is the best I have tried in Hong Kong in recent years.

          2. FourSeasons and other posters,

            Thank you so much for your advice, and thank you FourSeasons in particular for starting this, that's really kind.

            1. The suggestions here are fabulous! But how about the classic, traditional and famous 天香樓 (Tin Heung Lau) ? May be this kind of long history, lack of decor, truly authentic place will never make to Michelin list. But I just quite like the food there eventhough it is quite expensive.

              It provides classic and pure Hangzhou cuisine, 杭州菜. The "crab yellow" shark fin (蟹黃翅) that is full of seafood sweetness from the crab meat, crab brain with sharkfin, the crab meat use are only the one from the body, not the leg, etc. Or the Dragon Well shrimp (龍井蝦仁), strong flavor from the dragon well tea leaf. For wine, the chinese Hua Diao wine 花雕酒 is also some of the best.

              Japan's chinese food probably is very high standard nowaday. But I think there are many kinds of chinese food/cuisine that are great in HK, but cannot be found in Japan. Like Fourseason's recommended Chiu Chow cuisine, or snake soup, Hangzhou cuisine, Claypot rice, chinese BBQ ... HK provides a wide varieties of Chinese food and great chinese food that just cannot found elsewhere IMO.

              7 Replies
              1. re: skylineR33

                Hi skyliner33:

                What a choice!!! Of all places, you select a Hangzhou place 杭州菜 as THE PLACE, ahead of all the other Cantonese places. I love your two dishes too. I used to be a regular customer to Snow Garden 雪园, a Shanghainese restaurant in HKG, from 90s to early 00s (for whatever reasons, the standard just collapse in last 5 years) and for just one occasion, we decided to order the hairy crab roe for the 蟹黃 during the hairy crab season. So with hairy crab roe on top and the braised shark fins below, that was like the ultimate dish. Even the captain was giggling with envy when we place the order. Obviously, it cost a bomb later but it was something I still can remember after these years, and even more memorable and delicious than the shark fin in Foo Lam Moon.

                However, in last few years, I have turned my focus on this cuisine in Shanghai instead since I go there like 2-3 times per year. There is this relatively obscure (at least in Chowhound as nobody ever reviewed it here but a favorite hangout place for my group of friends) and rather cozy reasonably-priced restaurant Sophia's Tea & Restaurant (at 480 Huan Shan Lu) with the above 2 dishes as their signature dishes. You may want to visit this place if you do go to Shanghai.

                1. re: FourSeasons

                  I absolutely agree with Skyliner on Tin Heung Lau. It's hairy crab roe on noodle is to die for! Especially when it is hairy crab seaon the roe is just insanely good! They serve the dish all year round but it is the best when in season.

                  They also have a lot of classic hangzhou dishes, like a snowy white fish balls (totally different from the Cantonese style fish balls) which are pillowy, airy, and ethereal. The wild smoked yellow fish ($600HKD per fish) is almost impossible to find anywhere now in Hong Kong and definitely the best. Even if you are not going with your fooide friend, you should definitely go on your own with any friends in Hong Kong! This is seriously a place worth visiting (albeit a much lighter wallet after the meal).

                  1. re: FourSeasons

                    Hi Fourseason, thanks for the recommendation.

                    I agree completely with you, kobetobiko, HKTraveler regarding the comments on restaurants in HK. There is already a great list of outstanding restaurant names in this thread that will probably be found in "Michelin HK" - Chinese Cuisine section, if there is one coming in the future. But I am afraid some real meat will be missed in there, restaurant like "Tin Heung Lau" that is truly HK in a way !

                  2. re: skylineR33

                    I have finally gone to Tin Heung Lau for the first time...after being in HK for more than 10 years... The yellow fish is TO DIE FOR. I haven't had anything that good in ages. The crab roe is good, but this isn't the best season for it. Will wait for the fall and go back for the good stuff.


                    1. re: Peech

                      Hello Peech,
                      Do you have the address of the Tin Heung Lau you visited? Is it in HK or Kowloon side? My wife is currently visiting HK and I would love to have her try it. She was born in Shanghai and 'yellow fish' is her favourite Shanghainese dish! Many Thanks!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Address is 18C Austin Avenue, which is a side street off Austin Road in Kowloon. Easy to go via MTR and get off at Jordan Station, Exit D and it's a few minutes' walk. Tel. 2366-2414.

                  3. Hi FS,

                    We met again! I have been to all the restaurants that were mentioned so far on this post, and while I like a lot of them (e.g. Fu Shing , Fook Lam Moon, Lei Garden (various branches), Tin Heung Lau my favorite), they serve good traditional food and there isn't much innovation about their food. They are most certainly not going to be qualified in Michelin stars because a lot of them lack the decor and service that go into the Micheline star rating system. Don't get me wrong, I think they have great service in the good old Chinese traditional way, but they are not the upscale fine-dining service that you experience in Western upscale restaurants or even Japan, if you know what I mean. (note: I don't believe in Michelin ratings on restaurants outside of France as I found their Manhattan and Japann ratings to be very pathetic...)

                    Anyway, back to your foodie friend. Based on the criteria of good quality and delicious food, innovation, and service, I listed a few restaurants for your consideration:

                    -Cuisine Cuisine at IFC - Agreed with Peech - quality is exceptional, service is hotel like, and quite a lot of fusion that actually works! Price is 5 star, of course, but I think it is worth the experience.

                    - Tong Court at Langham Hotel in Mong Kwok - This was selected as the top 100 restaurants in Food and Wine in 2006(?). Service 6 star, food is great, with some level of innovation.

                    - Yan Toh Heen at the InterCon - second on Peech's suggestion again. This place is very solid.

                    -Tung Lai Shun at Royal Garden Hotel basement in Tsim Sai Tsiu - This is something different as most of the restaurants above are Cantonese. This is Peking cuisine, with a focus on lamb and lamb hot pot (delicious soup!). It is hard to find a place to have hot pot in an upscale environment, and this place hits the spot. They are also linked
                    to the Cantonese restaurant right across the artificial pond in the basement, so you can even order food from there. Also, they serve dim sum which is a bit different from your normal Cantonese style dim sum

                    I will avoid Yuk Kee and Bo Innovation. The former is no longer offering the quality that they used to. The latter was what I considered as trying to be fusion and innovative but didn't work.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: kobetobiko

                      Hi Ko:

                      I was expecting you to be here!!! Thanks to you and others in NYC Board, I have completed my "must go" list in NYC this late June.

                      I think for most Asians, decor is on the bottom of the priority list when they dine out. Michelin Tokyo Guide has realized this difference, and has rated the cuisine standard separately from the comfort level of the decor. The decor of Sushi Mizutani and Koju, both Michelin 3 star that I visited in Tokyo, is rather minimal though the meals were incredibly impressive and awesome.

                      Surprised you did not include your old favorite Farm House. Even shock to learn that Tung Lai Shun in Hong Kong is rather upscale. I have been a few times to Dong Lai Shun 东来顺 (different spelling but same Chinese names) in Beijing, but its interior is typical traditional Chinese style, very mediocre standard catered for the middle class. (I wrote a review in Chowhound before, but as is the case for hot pot or nabe, it gets 0 response)

                      P.S : just wonder why you think the Michelin list in NYC or even Tokyo is pathetic. It seem that the stars were given to the same usual favorites of all "best" list such as Per Se, Masa, JG etc.

                      1. re: FourSeasons

                        Hi 4Seasons,

                        I like Farm House as a standard dim sum / dinner place, but it isn't innovative and the decor is just very ordinary. The food lacks presentation. I don't think it will pass your foodie friend's standard (in terms of overall experience)

                        As for decor, IMO it is different to have a minimal decor from no / old decor (which is what you find in a lot of the Chinese restaurants). The minimal decor in Japan is more Zen-like. It is still clean and quiet and provides a sense of purity. In Hong Kong, you are taking about red and yellow colors, noisy diners, and plates and bowls that sometime have chips on the edges. Servers are not necessarily courteous. Tin Heung Lau, while serving top notch food, is one of these restaurants. The restaurants that Peech and I listed are usually newer and located in hotels and hence the decor and service are much above average. I think the Chinese restaurants in Japan can earn 3 stars not because of the food alone. I think it is the SUM of the whole dining experience that got them the stars. IMO it is much harder to get the "whole package" in Hong Kong Chinese restaurants and hence I don't expect Michelin to apprepriate what Hong Kong has to offer.

                        The Tung Lai Shun in Hong Kong is located in a hotel and hence it is much more upscale. The service is very nice. Some of the food there is newly created by the chef just for the Hong Kong branch and receive awards. It is definitey for more upscale audience compared to the general hot pot places in Hong Kong.

                        Michelin - They might be fine in judging (contemporary) French restaurants in NYC, but their ratings for other cuisines, like Italian, ethnic, etc., are completely ridiculous. I don't think they can tell what good Italian vs bad ones are. They gave stars but the stars are not accurate. And the fact they gave one star to Vong and one star to Annisa is completely beyond my comprehension.

                        By the way, when is your foodie friend visiting Hong Kong and which restaurants in Japan did she visit?

                        1. re: kobetobiko

                          I agree with what you wrote. I would also add that the service standard, especially outside of hotels, to be rather inconsistent depending if you are a regular client or if you order shark fin or abalone. But generally speaking, I find the service standard has improved tremendously after the SARS crisis. There is a sense of urgency to improve the service standard since then.

                          Asomaniac seem to indicate he is coming in June. I recall he mentioned Reikasai as one of the Chinese restaurants in Tokyo that he was really impressed.

                      2. re: kobetobiko

                        there have been a couple of mentions on this board about t'ang court at langham - just wanted to clarify that t'ang court is at the langham in tst, while the one in mong kok langham is called ming court. i actually prefer ming court in mk - they do a lot of old-school canto dishes really well, e.g. braised pomelo skin with shrimp roe and various things with preserved olive leaves. i know a lot of people go there for the abalone, shark's fin etc., but they don't matter as much to me (rather ubiquitous in hk, i find).

                      3. I have only had a couple of bad experiences with Chinese food in Japan and normally avoid it like the plague. I find the food to be bland and uninspiring (even at some supposedly top notch places) though this is several years ago. Having chinese food would be at the very bottom of my list of food to eat in Japan! If you ask me, I think the best Chinese (i.e. Cantonese to me) food are in HK, Vancouver and Sydney.

                        For me, my top ones are the following. Problem is some of them, especially the more traditional ones, will be far short in the service and decor department to be anywhere close to getting a star. But then, I only really care about the good food!

                        - Tang Court. This would be the closest in my mind. Tops in food and service, the decor is above average (very good from a space perspective). I did notice that the quality of the food has slipped in the last 6 months or so.

                        - Lung King Heen. This is high up there as well though I usually go there for the dim sum as opposed to dishes.

                        - Lei Garden. The one in Wanchai is very good but I am not a fan of the one in IFC. Spacing is a big problem for me though since the tables are squeezed so tightly together. Food is excellent especially the crab.

                        - Fu Tong. In a hotel in Wanchai. Not great decor but very good food and I especially like the fried rice. Other food are solid as well.

                        - cuisine cuisine. Good food and has gained on me over time.

                        - One Harbour Road. Old stand-by though I haven't been for some time.

                        I have only really covered Cantonese food as I think that is what you are referring to. As for Bo Innovation, I will have to disagree with some others to say that I love the place!


                        5 Replies
                        1. re: HKTraveler

                          Hi HKTraveler:

                          shock that you put Sydney as one of the three best places for Chinese food. My experience was really bad 3-4 years ago. Can't remember the names but went to the top 2 best known ones but were terribly disappointed.

                          As to Vancouver, I think the standard has really declined. I go there every 3 years or so, and I was really impressed with the Chinese food there back in the 90s till early 00s. But in the last 2 trips, in 05 and 07, I was shock that the food was just mediocre at best. There was no more innovation, and the style and service standard was just like the way it was in the 90s in Hong Kong. On top of that, the expensive Canadian $ does not make it a bargain anymore. I certainly think that the Chinese food standard in Singapore has exceeded Vancouver's level in the past 5 years.

                          And don't forget Shanghai. Most of my visits there focus on Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Hunan cuisine rather than Cantonese cuisine. It used to be greasy and salty with very unrefined presentation but that is not anymore on recent visits in last few years.

                          Fu Tong is a new name to me; I like One Harbour Rd too but like you, have not been there for last 3 years and wondered if the standard is still consistent.

                          We actually refer to any Chinese food, so let us know your other top end favorites as long as it is Chinese food.

                          1. re: FourSeasons

                            Hi FourSeasons,
                            You probably went to Golden Century in Sydney - it's supposed to be THE Chinese restaurant in Sydney. I know - everyone would be gushing about how fantastic their giant Tasmanian crab (served 3 ways) was - and at A$300-A$400 per crab, it'd better be. I truly agree with you - Sydney Chinese food is terribly over-rated and one can be very disappointed.

                            BTW, I still couldn't understand why anyone would think that Chinese restaurants in Tokyo are good. Once, I was in Tokyo for 3 weeks (back in pre-Michelin 2005) with a Shanghainese colleague who was in Japan for the very first time. The poor chap couldn't stomach Japanese food, so for 3 whole weeks, I had to bring him to Chinese restaurants for dinner. Being a foodie, I sussed out top Chinese restaurants in very nook & cranny of Tokyo, from the Ginza to Shinagawa, from Ikebukuro Shinjuku. We even traipsed down to Yokohama on a couple of occasions.

                            Unfortunately, I didn't manage to find a single Chinese restaurant which I liked then. My impression of Chinese restaurants in Tokyo was that:
                            1. They are horribly over-priced - I paid US$450-US$500 for dinner for two every single evening;
                            2. Their food had been Japanised to suit local tastes - i.e. a lot of emphasis on starchy sauces;
                            3. Either too bland or else too plain for Chinese tastes.

                            But, of course, there's no competing with the Japanese when it comes to giving truly polished service & providing a sophisticated/elegant ambience.

                            I'm digressing here - we're supposed to be talking about HK's top-end restaurants, but unfortunately, I'm back in San Francisco till June, and left my food journals on HK's top restaurants back home in Singapore! Off-hand, I always thought of Fook Lam Moon & Yeung Koon-Yat's Forum as the twin peaks of HK's culinary Mt Olympus (and Ah Yat himself is probably the Zeus of the HK gourmet world). But then, their ambience will probably get the thumbs-down from the Michelin folks. Also, any anonymous Michelin inspector will probably be ignored by the waiters who tend to fawn over HK regulars & local celebrities. Service finesse is still something which HKers need to learn from their Tokyo counterparts.

                            1. re: klyeoh

                              Hi HKTraveler & klyeoh:

                              Just add one more point as maybe my introduction was misunderstood. I just need to clarify what Asomaniac's foodie friend meant was the TOP END, not the average, Chinese food that are ranked in Michelin Tokyo Guide are better than the top end in Hong Kong. And there are only 5 listed in that guide, so I guess we are talking about the top 5 vs top 5, not the average one vs average one.

                              1. re: FourSeasons

                                Is Asomaniac familiar with real traditional Chinese food vs Chuka-Ryori (Japanese-styled Chinese food)?

                            2. re: FourSeasons

                              My choice to put Sydney there probably has as much to do with the quality of the produce and seafood than anything else. When I was in Sydney, I just find lots and lots of great seafood at reasonable prices. I did like Golden Century as well especially for their crab and fresh steamed abalones. Can't say my experience there was extensive though.

                          2. I haven't eaten in that many top restaurants in Hong Kong (I was a journalist when I lived there, which should have confered a huge expense account on me, but unaccountably my boss went against the fine traditions of excess in that industry and kept us all on a pretty short leash.)

                            However, I did eat once at the China Club at the top of the Bank of China building and had a really faultless Dim Sum lunch. The space is very spectacular - huge ceilings, bright silks, enough room for a tennis match between each table.

                            And the food was faultless. Even the Turnip cake was good and I can't stand that stuff.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mr_creosote

                              China Club is good but it is unfortunately for members only. I am still waiting for my friends to be kind enough to treat me there.

                            2. Just came back from a short 2 nights stay in Hong Kong. Decided to try 2 "top end" that were highly recommended here on this thread: Cuisine Cuisine (by Peech, HKT and Ko) and Tien Heung Lau (by sklyliner33 and Ko). My verdict: 1 thumb down, 1 thumb up.

                              Cuisine Cuisine at IFC has a modern elegant interior deco, gorgeous view of the Kowloon skyline and the right atmosphere for business corporate dining. But the service and the food did not match up to the high end look of this place. I was immediately turned off when the 3 appetizers and the soup came to our table at the same time, and then before we even finished the soup, the first main dish was delivered to our table. We complained bitterly to the captain, but to no avail as the second dish was on our table within the next few minutes. Even more disappointed, the food did not make up for the lack of coordination in the delivery. The 2 appetizers (crispy cod,beef tendon) and the winter melon soup were mediocre; Crystal King Prawn was tasteless and expensive at HK$160 per piece; XO sauce glutinous rice and eel wrapped with lotus leaf was like a Sino-Japanese fusion but turned out weird. However, 3 dishes were pretty good: 3 layered crispy pork belly as appetizer, the vegetable (bamboo bith with ???) and baked chicken with rock salt were the exceptions. But the baked chicken still pale in comparison to the one I had in Sang Kee Seafood at Wanchai. Overall, it was a disappointing evening. Maybe my experience was an isolated case but I am really surprise this has been nominated as "top end" here; I would not even rate it top end Cantonese in Singapore, let alone in Hong Kong.

                              Tien Heung Lau has the exact opposite ambiance: the old simple look that was prevalent in the 50s and 60s. It has been a long time since I have stepped into such atmosphere in Hong Kong. Hong Kong superstar celebrity Stephen Chow happened to dine in this restaurant on the same evening; I know he is also a regular at my favorite Hong Kong restaurant Sheung Hing Chiu Chow so it seemed that we share similar taste bud. The dinner started with the river shrimp, 龍井蝦仁, very fresh but I was not able to taste the tea leaves flavor like the way Skyliner described. Followed by deep fried frog leg 炸田雞腿, which was very well done, crispy on the outside but retaining the flavour of the meat. We also ordered their signature dishes: crab roe shark fin 蟹黃翅, very delicious but still inferior to the braised shark fin of Shueng Hing that is my benchmark for the best shark fin in Hong Kong or anywhere else in the world; smoked yellow fish 煙薰黃魚which I agree with Ko and Peech to be awesome . But Kobetobiko mentioned HK$600 for that fish and I am disappointed to inform that it is now priced above HK$700. Ended with the vegetable 塌窩菜 and the crab roe noodle 蟹粉撈麵 (with thick noodle and gravy crab roe on top; add some vinegar & ginger to enhance the flavor as well); both were delicious. And we were given complimentary rice dumpling as the dessert. I enjoyed the dinner until I received the bill for HK$3,500 for 3 persons. Definitely not cheap for Hanzhou food; I have similar dishes in Shanghai for perhaps half the price here. Overall, I enjoyed the dinner but I don't think I would classify it as "top end". The Chinese food standard here in Hong Kong is just so high that I don't think I would rush to come back here.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: FourSeasons

                                FS, sorry that you did not think either place was "top" end. While I would not classify Cuisine Cuisine within the top 3 in HK myself, I do think that they can do a good job if you order something SPECIAL. You will note that when I mentioned the place I said that I didn't think it was anything special until I set up a special menu from the chef. That menu cost HKD 10k for 6 pax, but it was pretty good.

                                Tien Heung Lau has never been cheap, and the price goes up with fewer diners sharing the cost of the same dishes. But there is nowhere else for me to get the yellow croaker...so that alone is worth the price of admission for me.

                                1. re: Peech

                                  Hi Peech:

                                  Please don't say "sorry"; I am a fan of your blog, and agree with Charles' view that you are a "gourmand", but I guess we just have to agree we differ on the view of Cuisine Cuisine. Our group to Cuisine Cuisine includes 3 adults and 3 kids so we are in no mood and not able to afford as well to order the snake soup with shark fin and the abalone and goose web. But I did use your blog as a reference to order the King Prawn 水晶大蝦球 (which I thought was bland) and baked chicken 正宗鹽焗雞 (which I thought was good but if you want the best 鹽焗雞, check out Sang Kee http://www.sangkee.com.hk/smalldish.htm , which you have to pre order on reservation, an old fashion traditional place that I love to dine). Again, beside the food, the service was an issue as well. I can think of so many Cantonese restaurants, including few in Singapore, that are even better than Cuisine Cuisine.

                                  Yes, I have to agree with you the smoked yellow fish is worth the money. But other than this dish, I thought I can get other dishes just as well in other places. In Shanghai, where I used to visit frequently from 03-07, I thought I can eat those dishes at well half the price THL charged. My old time favorite Shanghai/Zhejiang restaurant in Hong Kong remained Snow Garden which unfortunately had gone downhill in recent years. But I thought the old Snow Garden is even better than THL. But don't get me wrong, I still like THL, but I just won't include it as my top favorites.

                                  1. re: FourSeasons

                                    Hey FourSeasons,

                                    Sorry I didn't see this thread until now, and I would have probably suggested something instead of Cuisine Cuisine if I knew you were going there. I noticed a quality drop in Cuisine Cusine for dinner for quite awhile. Actually it's more of an inconsistency. Sometimes dishes turned out fine but other times the food was underseasoned or very greasy (for fried or stir-fried food). Dim sum is still ok. But for the price that they are charging, I wouldn't want to play roulette with the food.

                                    As for Tien Heung Lau, it is, together with Fook Lam Moon, my top 2 restaurants in Hong Kong. That said, the chef at Tien Heung Lau is getting old and soon to be retiring. It's also clear that some dishes are far from the quality in the past (e.g. Tong Po Rou, glad you didn't order). So go there if you can as you may not be able to enjoy the old chef's food anymore!

                                    Best yet, wait until hairy crab's season and the crab roe with noodles will be divine! :D

                                2. re: FourSeasons

                                  Hey FourSeasons, thanks for the report. I am glad you at least give it a thumb up with the $3500 you spent ! haha.

                                  In my opinion, both Sheung Hing and Tin Heung Lau are considered as "classic" restaurants in HK that they preserved the traditional way of Chiu Chow and Hangzhou cuisine in HK, with top-notch ingradient used. Yes, their price are "very" expensive but it is getting harder and harder to find this kind of restaurants in HK. They are definitely my pick of top restaurants in HK.

                                  1. re: skylineR33

                                    Hi sylineR33:

                                    Great to hear from you again. It seemed that we always share similar view, whether in Hong Kong or Tokyo since we always love the same type of restaurants. Yes, I agree with you absolutely; these "classic" restaurants are a a treasure; the only problem is Chowhound is an American centric website where I think many readers would have problems for such "treasures" due to language, cultural barrier. On most trips to Hong kong, I would rather prefer to be entertained in such atmosphere than to go to hotel restaurants (though my next targets are Yan Toh Heen and Tang Court, finally agree with CharlesYu that it is time for me to venture to Kowloon).
                                    But the funny thing is that I was not that impressed with Sheung Hing the first time I tried there (must be 10-15 years ago) but it has certainly win me back after a few try. Now it is one of my top favorites as well.

                                  2. re: FourSeasons

                                    Dear FS, sorry to hear you had the flying dishes syndrome at the IFC. Try as they may all the Chinese restaurants sometimes are conditioned by the people who eats there, the patrons sometimes wants the dishes on the table before they even order it. Here in China they almost always complaint if the dishes didn't come out fast enough. This is why at the IFC I refuse all Chinese food all together. I love the view, many great places to go, why even rush along? But if you choose Chinese, you just might get the view with those dishes flying at you.

                                  3. Some information regarding the idea that michelin graded Chinese restaurants in Tokyo is even better than the top end ones in Hong Kong :

                                    Tabelog (A popular user driven site in Japan) just released the Best restaurants of 2008 in Japan. In the Chinese cuisine section (cantonese, sichuan, shanghai ...) of Tokyo, the No.1 ranking is 白金亭-周中菜房. The executive chef is the famous Hong Kong chef, popular food critics, Chow Jone (周中), whereas the michelin graded chinese restaurants are nowhere to be seen. 周中 is the only Hong Kong chef who has been challenged by the Japanese iron chef 六三郎. He is also the executive chef (back from retirement) of the restaurant in MGM Macau who recently got one michelin star in the Michelin HK/Macau 2008 edition.


                                    I have only tried his cuisine when he was the head chef of Kirin Court in HK in the 80s with his invention and signature dish 荷包天狗翅 (egg wrapped premium shark fin ? ), which is one of my memorable dish.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: skylineR33

                                      I had Dim Sum at Imperial Court in MGM Macau about 8 months ago before it was awarded Michelin 1 star. It was pretty good but I did not realize the chef was so famous. My friends just had dinner there 1 week ago, and they complained the price was too expensive as they were charged close to HK$3,000 just for the premium steamed fish 老鼠斑 when they dined at the VIP room.

                                    2. Just came back from Hong Kong and Macau again. Wanted to try some of the high end haute Cantonese cuisine restaurants recommended on this thread, so picked Tang Court (by HKT and Ko) and Tim's Kitchen (by Peech) this time. Verdict: lukewarm thumb up on Tang Court, but enthusiastic thumb up on Tim's Kitchen. (Please note I did all the English translation below myself, the official menu may appear differently)

                                      Tang Court is located at Langham Hotel, recently awarded a 2 stars at Michelin Guide. But unfortunately, never really met up to my high expectation. Some dishes were really excellent but the rest were below average which is why I can only give a lukewarm thumb up. Service was top notch. We started with its grilled whole pig 乳豬全體, very nicely done, crispy with slight tender meat inside. Then the following two dishes were disappointing: 釀焗響螺 whelk with slight curry flavor and 砵酒焗蠔 big oyster. The sharkfin soup (forgot which one we ordered; I think the cheapest one since it is recession time) was just average. Mixed review on 鮑汁花膠鵝掌 abalone sauce fish stomach and goose web: abalone sauce was too bland, fish stomach not tender enough but the goose web was very delicious. It was not as good as the one I had at Chung's Cuisine 2-3 years ago. The following steam fish 清蒸東星斑 was excellent, just the right temperature, very tender fish meat and tasty sauce. 富贵鸡 (tranlsation: ??? literal translation is wealth expensive chicken) was very delicious but the ending seasonal vegetable on broth 上湯豆苗 was just slightly salty and vegetable seem a bit aged.

                                      The first time I knew about Tim's Kitchen was from my foodie friend in Singapore. The second time was when Peech recommended it on this thread. With two serious foodies giving thumbs up, I knew I had to try this place soon. Then Michelin Guide awarded it with a 1 star. And to my disappointment, the restaurant was fully reserved for the following one week when I tried to book it. Luckily, CharlesYu told me that Stanley Ho had recruited the head chef to open one at Lisboa Macau, and supposedly to be even better than the Hong Kong branch. This is also confirmed by Michelin Guide which awarded a higher rating 2 stars on its Macau branch, so I immediately made a reservation since I planned to go to Macau anyway. And oh boy, no regret, this is truly an unbelievably outstanding restaurant: service is great, ambiance is simple but most importantly, every dish is excellent from the beginning till the end. We ordered as follow: 玻璃大蝦球 crystal king prawn, 椒鹽蟹鉗 salt pepper fried crab claw, 太史五蛇羹 snake soup (in season now), 蝦子柚皮 shrimp paste pamelo skin, 咕嚕肉 sweet and sour pork, 沙爹牛肉腸粉 satay sauce beef cheong fun, 七彩少肚尖 pork stomach with celery, 蠟味飯 preserved sausage on rice. Everyone on the table agrees we had an amazing dinner.

                                      13 Replies
                                      1. re: FourSeasons

                                        Hi Fourseasons,

                                        Thanks for the review. How early do you have to make reservation at Tang Court and Tim's Macau ? I am just wondering what is the Michelin effect on these restaurants. Will visit HKs soon, I got a recommendation from my family for having seafood at the Aberdeen Fish Market with the private kitchen "Ah Lo" and hopefully it is good.

                                        1. re: skylineR33

                                          I was in Hong Kong from Dec 24 to 29 and Macau from 29 to 31st. Before the trip, I was expecting an easy time to make reservation as I heard so many stories about how "bad" the economy is. But to my surprise, maybe it is due to festive season, it was actually quite tough to book a table during this period. Beside Tim's Kitchen Hong Kong branch, I also could not get a table at Yung Kee 4th floor just a day ahead.

                                          Back to your question, I reserve a table at Tang's 2 nights before the venue without any problem. Since I could not get a table at Tim's HKG, I immediately reserved a table at the Macau branch, perhaps 3-4 days ahead. Both Tang's and Tim's Macau were both full when I dined there.

                                          Let us know how the seafood at "Ah Lo". I don't know anything about this place. But if you have more time, you can check out the food scene in Macau; the more I go there, the more impressed I am, from the street food to the haute cuisine. It is catching up very fast to Hong Kong's standard, and moreover, one of your favorite chefs is now at MGM.

                                          1. re: FourSeasons

                                            Yes, I agree with you. The rent at Macau is much lower than HK, it allows the restaurant to put more money into the ingradient used, etc. My sister just returned from Macau and she mentioned she had the best shrimp roe noodle in one of the old noodle shop there. I also heard and read reviews that Tim's Macau is better than Tim's HK. But I am wondering if all these expensive restaurants at the many 5 star hotels can survive, there are items like $8000 HKD for a bowl of abalone congee !

                                            1. re: skylineR33

                                              I suspect your sister's "best shrimp row noodle" is Luk Kee 六記; I just recommend it on CharlesYu's "Best wonton noodle" thread.
                                              Actually, dining in Macau is still cheaper than in Hong Kong, including those "expensive" restaurants in the casinos. They are actually not more expensive than the hotel restaurants in Hong Kong, but they do have to take care of the casinos' high roller clients, and I suspect your HK$8000 abalone congee is one of the dishes to keep them happy and gamble more.
                                              Tim's Macau, in my opinion, is no doubt "top end". It is now one of my favorites.

                                              1. re: FourSeasons

                                                It is actually Cheong Kee祥記 for the 豬油蝦子撈麵, shrimp roe lo mein (noodle). It is better according to them.

                                                1. re: skylineR33

                                                  Cheong Kee祥記 attracts mostly Hong Kong tourists but according to my Macau friend, Luk Kee 六記 is the real deal. Haha, maybe we should start a Cheong Kee vs Luk Kee thread...

                                        2. re: FourSeasons

                                          Hello FS,
                                          Was the crab claw you ordered at Tim's costing individually around HK$200 each? If so, then it must be the same as the one that tried in the HK Tim's. Damn good crab claw!!! If instead of corn dogs one could munch on a few of those claws during a Lakers game, that would be fantastic!! Ha!

                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                            Too many dishes on this trip so I can't remember the exact pricing but think it is about HK$150 range. Definitely agree it is a "damn good crab claw"!!! Did you try the Crystal King Prawn 玻璃大蝦球 ? Simply awesome!!!

                                          2. re: FourSeasons

                                            FS, glad you liked Tim's Kitchen. Methinks it's time for me to make another visit...

                                            1. re: Peech

                                              Hi Peech:
                                              I have to thank you for recommending Tim's on this thread.

                                              1. re: FourSeasons

                                                No biggie...be sure to check out either 4th or 8th floor of Yung Kee next time. I've just posted my review up above...what a dinner! It's pretty hard to top...

                                                1. re: Peech

                                                  My saliva is already dripping from reading your description of Yung Kee 8th floor...清蒸蘇眉, 高湯蟹臂包翅, 龍蝦頭爪泡飯...must have cost a bomb on your wallet!!! You are truly a gourmand. Are you willing to reveal how much the dinner cost per person excluding the wines? The photo of 蘇眉 is rather weird; just show the tail end of the fish; I seldom see just half a fish steam on a high end Cantonese restaurant. What happened to the head and upper half body? Anyway, my last trip to Yung Kee was rather disappointing about 3-4 years ago but I was not on the 4th or 8th floor. This place will definitely be on my radar screen for future trips...

                                                  1. re: FourSeasons

                                                    I actually did mention in a different reply above (in the middle of this thread, which is a reply to my own post) that the 7 of us spent HKD 15k, excluding the wines that we brought ourselves (which no doubt cost more than the food, quite normal for this group). Fortunately I didn't have to pay...

                                                    I took two pics of the fish, and chose to post the one that showed how perfect the tail was. We did have one whole fish and it really was the best fish I have had in a long time. It does help when the owner of Yung Kee sets the menu for you and pays you a visit during dinner...

                                          3. You need to get out of the main centres and try some authentic Cantonese food. Fung Sheng in North Point has probably the best fried chicken in town and (perhaps not politically correct) sharks fin soup that is classic. This is an old reliable place that packs them out every day. You see hi-flyers in suits mixing with the hoi polloi all because the food is so authentic. "Like my granny used to make" says one of my local friends. Don't expect ambience and perfect service. For a real treat go to the Java Rd Market at night for seafood. Wine and beer out of rice bowls is just the begining. If it gets any fresher than this it must have just worked out of the sea. Be ready for one of the best, noisiest and less spotlessly clean restaurant experiences in Hong Kong ... but just try to get a table!!

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: MR8888

                                              Tak Lung beats Fung Sheng anyday....

                                              Java Rd Market...refering to Tung Bo?

                                              1. re: MR8888

                                                I thought we were talking about TOP END... food that taste like how granny used to make it may be good, but most likely isn't classified as top end.

                                                1. re: Peech

                                                  Actually some of Tak Lung's best dishes (smoked chapon, mille feulle of pork, oysters and port) are "up there" with the best...

                                                2. re: MR8888

                                                  I agree Fung Sheng's clear broth shark fin soup is very classic. To be exact, it serves "Tung Tak" 順德 cuisine, which is a stream of cantonese cuisine, whereas Sheung Hing being mentioned in FourSeason's original post serves Chiu chow cuisine, which is also a stream of cantonese cuisine. They are both authentic. I can never imagine Tung Bo as classified as Top End in any form, it is a local favourite eatery which serves good food. If you want real fresh seafood, go to the fisherman canteen of the Aberdeen fish market, call them one day in advance, specifes what you want to eat and they reserve the best out from the sea next day morning for your lunch.

                                                3. I have found Nong Pu (Farm House) to be an excellent all-rounder. The double-boiled soup is always excellent, and the molten salty egg bun is the best way to end the meal. No firm favourite dishes, but willing to vouch for excellent ingredients and technique.

                                                  If you are looking for spice (Sichuanese), then Da Ping Huo is definitely top choice. However, it's a set menu with no options. If you want some choice, then go to San Xi Lou. Location off the beaten track, but food most excellent. Definitely try the spicy fish + tofu in stone bowl and dan dan noodles.

                                                  17 Replies
                                                  1. re: bucatini

                                                    I have not been back to Farm House for quite sometime. But the recent reviews from Peech and Ko were not positive. As to soup, my favorite is always Lei Garden, never disappoint me with their 例湯. Da Ping Huo has always been a personal favorite for me. Thanks for recommending San Xi Lou.

                                                    1. re: FourSeasons

                                                      Farm House's "house special" dishes are the almond-pig-lung soup and the glutenous rice stuffed chicken wings....

                                                      Yunyan is another excellent candidate for sichuan, special includes sichuan style beef "jerky", chilli fried andoulette, hand-shaved "millimeter" thick egg noodles, and green chili wheat noodles...it's one very few Bib Gourmand restaurants Michelin got right.

                                                      1. re: Sher.eats

                                                        The glutenous rice stuffed chicken wing is so nicely done, a perfect form crispy thin skin, perfectly fried non oily de-boned chicken wing with delicious sticky rice, a must try at Farm House. They also have a tsunami discount going on there with everything 30% off. Well, I guess they are not the only one having discount with the current economy state. With less than $400 HK, you get the famous chicken wing, abalone, shark fin, sea cucumber and swallow nest with one of their set menu, eventhough you can find better version with the above expensive ingradient else where !

                                                        1. re: skylineR33

                                                          I actually like 陸羽 a lot but their service is horrible and they're very racist/rude towards Mandarin speakers, thinking that they're all from the Mainland. 利苑 is quite good, one of my favorite. I'm trying to make it out to Bo Innovation soon. Unfortunately, I'm stuck in Phoenix, AZ until my next trip to Asia...

                                                          1. re: skylineR33

                                                            Hi Skyline

                                                            I was told of this promo at Farmhouse too.

                                                            Can you tell me if 1 person can order the set which has all their specialties?

                                                            1. re: mikey8811

                                                              Yes, there are different dinner sets that contains the stuffed wing, shark fin , abalone, and swallow nest, which the price is determined by the grade of shark fin and abalone. I think those set which contain sea cumumber are more expensive. You can order one set and the other person in your party can order another set. You can even ask them to replace item in the set.

                                                              1. re: skylineR33

                                                                Hay skylineR33. I'm back!!
                                                                I had the 'lunch set' at Farmhouse two weeks ago. Very similar dishes but only around $288! Much better deal than the dinner version. When you ate there, did you notice the $19888.00 they charge for the 4 head Japanese abalone? So 'Bull Market', as our HK chowhounder Peech like to say!!
                                                                Lets get together sometime, chat and compare notes!

                                                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                  Welcome back. I think I miss the abalone deal. Let's get together sometime !

                                                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                    how much would a 1 head be? haha

                                                                    is the cooking of the abalone as important as the ingredient itself?

                                                                    e.g. caviar & white truffles no much cooking, lobsters and black truffle yes cooking

                                                                    1. re: Sher.eats

                                                                      Is there such a thing? If so, then it must be on steroids!

                                                                      I would say the preparation of the abalone and the follow up braising method/ingredients is as important. For the large size ones, I've read 'Ah Yut' spend three days of prep work soaking the abalone etc. The worse thing one can do is inadequate preparation which stop short of bringing out the tenderness and 'tong-sum' of the morsel.

                                                                      SkylineR33, our sharksfin/abalone expert, might have more to add?!

                                                                      1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                        Hi Charles, thanks but I am far from expert. I have not heard of real premium quality 1 head dried abalone too, as there are so many different grade. Some restaurant advertise it as 1 head but it is really not. I agree on your comment and would like to emphasis that it is a complicated cooking process which involve day(s) of preparation, the control of cooking temperature and cooking apparatus used, etc also need to take into consideration.

                                                                        1. re: skylineR33

                                                                          hey charles and skyline

                                                                          the pre-soaking and preparation part, is it complex but procedural set of instructions or is it "instinctual"? (recipe vs skill)

                                                                          are there different "school"s of cooking abalone like there is in steak (charcoal vs cast iron)?

                                                                          1. re: Sher.eats

                                                                            The soaking part is out of necessity to ensure ultimate tenderness right to the core.
                                                                            Most classical schools uses 'sheung tong' ingredients ie., boiler hen, chinese ham, porks bone, chicken feet, dried scallops etc for the braising procedure finishing off with or without the addition of oyster sauce. However, some uses even 'super sheung tong' ie with frog legs added for enhanced unami effect.
                                                                            Obviously, the use of traditional 'clay pot' is the way to go, however, I've heard, in order to cut corners and reduce cooking time, pressure cookers are being used! How one can control the degree of tenderness using the latter is subject to experimentation albeit an 'expensive' one!
                                                                            Fancy an abalone tasting for our next HK chowmeet?! Ha! Just joking! Talk about the 'ultimate Bull Market' experience!!!!

                                                                            1. re: Sher.eats

                                                                              I am not abalone preparation expert, but I think it requires experience to master it. There are different "school"s of cooking abalone too, as there are different receipe out there.

                                                                              It requires both procedural set of instructions as well as "instinctual" such as some of the steps in below :

                                                                              Put the "after soaked" abalone into the claypot on top of a bamboo sheet with other ingradients, boil a few hours with boiling water, boiling water has to be used, otherwise, the texture of the abalone will be destroyed. After a few hours, shut off heat and baked for a while. Add boiling water appropriately and repeat this process until the center of the abalone becomes jello state which lead to the state of "tong-sum" tenderness, without cutting it apart to check.

                                                                              To add flavour to the abalone, the premium broth "sheung Tong" can only be applied to the abalone after the abalone becomes tender, otherwise it will harden the abalone .....

                                                                              1. re: skylineR33

                                                                                thanks Charles and skyline...

                                                                                so given all that preparation required the price premium that restaurants charge is well justified? what is that premium anyway (e.g. one $1000-priced abalone bought off the shelf will be sold for how much at a restaurant?). FYI Caprice's Bresse chicken is $1000, the same poulet bought at Citysuper will be $600.


                                                                                1. re: Sher.eats

                                                                                  I suspect the mark-up is like wine. Depending on how greedy the individual restaurants can be, it can range from double to quadruple or more?!

                                                                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                    haha i see it as "customers willing to pay" rather than "restaurants being greedy" but quadruple or more.....wah...

                                                                                    i guess it's not comparable with western cuisine as our most $ products (white truffles, caviar) need much less processing?

                                                                                    one last question: are the producers of dried balone vertically integrated? (fisherman to processor to affineur) and which stage of production yields the highest value addition e.g. for cheese most value is created by the affinage compared to the milk/curd production.

                                                                                    "value" = price....

                                                        2. Just came back from Hong Kong. On this trip, I have followed Peech's recommendation to try Fook Lam Moon and Yung Kee 4th floor, and also try out a high end private kitchen known as Glenn's Kitchen. All received a thumb up from me.

                                                          Fook Lam Moon is a legendary name in Hong Kong for the tycoons and celebrities. I had a mixed review on its Dim Sum when I last came here about 2-3 years ago. The last haute cuisine I had here was like more than a decade ago. I have often heard that non regulars are treated not so well but that is certainly not true on my visit here this time. Service was excellent. We ordered braised shark fin soup (紅燒排翅2兩), stir fried lobster (豉椒炒龍蝦), baked crab (釀焗蟹蓋), Chinese vegetable with garlic on broth (蒜子上汤浸见菜), lotus leaf wrapped rice (荷葉飯) and dessert almond cream (生磨杏仁茶). My wife did not like the baked crab but I enjoyed every dish. Special mentions are the shark fin and the almond cream which I thought are perhaps the best in its class.

                                                          The last time I went to Yung Kee was also a few years ago. Very disappointed then but decided to try out the 4th floor that was recommended by Peech. Just found out the Yung Kee covers all market niche from the very bottom to the top end. On the ground floor, there is a take away counter, then 1-3rd floor for the mass and tourists, the 4th floor is the VIP club, and then I think 6th and 7th are for members only club, and then the 8th or 9th floor is the private kitchen. Before we left, the waitress told us that we can try the members club before making up our mind if we want to join the club and esoteric items can be ordered in advanced for the meal. Anyway, my friend ordered the course; started with century egg (特製皮蛋子薑), pig lung soup(白肺汤), salted pepper sea cucumber (椒鹽海參扣), beef Song Lam in broth (清湯牛爽腩), smoked pork (雲霧燻肉), roast goose (燒鵝), Chinese vegetable (唐生菜). I just thought my friend ordered too much meat for the whole course but every dish was good. Special mentions are the sea cucumber and beef song lam which really wow me. I thought the beef song lam here is even better than the one in 群記 but do note advanced order is needed. I was actually less impressed with the legendary roast goose; it seem to me it is becoming more or less a generic dish here in Hong Kong.

                                                          Glenn's Kitchen is a high end private kitchen located on the 7th floor of an apartment in Causeway Bay. They serve only 1 table per day, with maximum 15 guests. Two sofa were placed beside the table with a balcony overlooking the Victoria Harbor to provide a homey feeling. I was lucky to be invited to this corporate dinner. I have scanned and attached the tasting menu (sorry, English was not available). The chef included two extra dishes: a crispy 3 layered pork meat as starter (三層肉) and baked salted chicken (鹽焗雞). Special mentions are the steamed fish 方利 (anyone knows the English translation? I think it is a type of sole that I have only tried it in Macau before, first time in Hong Kong) and the 三層肉 which they seem to fried it with very crispy on the top.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: FourSeasons

                                                            Not able to attach the tasting menu at Glenn's.

                                                            1. re: FourSeasons

                                                              Try one more time...ok, it works this time.

                                                            2. re: FourSeasons

                                                              Greetings Fourseason!
                                                              You left HK at a good time! Only 10c yesterday! Even colder than Toronto!
                                                              Wow! You two actually ordered ALL THOSE FOOD in one meal at Fook Lam Moon?! Didn't realize you have an appetite of a growing boy! Ha!
                                                              Just had dinner at the HK Jockey's club in Sha Tin. Great tasting Soya sauce chicken! Surrounded by tables occupied by HK film stars who in turn had to venture out to the balcony to smoke! How can someone actually enjoy the taste of steamed live garoupa when the mouth is filled with cigarette smoke?!
                                                              I noticed you have added Caprice to your HK favourite list! Ha!

                                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                HI Charles:
                                                                I actually prefer colder weather as it gets so hot and humid here in Singapore. Yes, way too much food at FLM because of the 荷葉飯. But there wasn't much meat in the beginning, so that was ok. I almost ordered the fried chicken 炸子雞 as well before my wife stopped me. Yes, yes, add Caprice to the new favorite list, it is my favorite French in town now! Thanks to sher.eats!!!

                                                                1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                  welcome welcome =)

                                                                  where's the review? haha

                                                                2. re: Charles Yu

                                                                  hey Charles, are you gonna find the best "pot rice", congee and "hot pot" places to suit the weather?

                                                                  1. re: Sher.eats

                                                                    Enough food for now! I'm stuffed! Need to spend a week on fresh fruit salad when I return to Toronto!

                                                              2. Just returned from another trip to Hong Kong. This time I tried YING YANG and BO INNOVATION, both are located in Wanchai, very close to each other too on a narrow road.

                                                                Ying Yang is a private kitchen. I believed the chef has an organic farm in New Territories where she selected some of the ingredients there. There are 3 fixed menus, from HK$560 per head, $680 and Chinese omakase based on the chef's inspiration that can be budget from $880 to 1688. And then one can order a few ala carte dishes on top of the tasting menu. We decided to opt for $680 course with another 2 dishes from the ala carte menu. Overall, it was a good meal, lot of food that stuffed us. I was especially wow by 3 dishes: the first one is its signature dish Yellow Earth Chicken, super crispy skin with very delicious meats; second is its Soup without water (weird name but I believe the chef cooked the soup with crab); and the third is from the ala carte menu Salted Chicken with Clay pot rice (the rice has very nice flavor). Special mention is its steamed fish Drama. The rest of the dishes was quite average, in my opinion.

                                                                The next night we went to Bo Innovation, which gained a 2 star from Michelin Guide. This is the molecular place that is rather controversial since one either "love it" or "hate it". Again there are 3 fixed menus here: the first is tasting menu at $680 pp, then the chef menu at $1,080 and the UN Charity menu (which is the chef's menu + cheese + 2 surprise dishes; 15% of this will go to a charity program at UN) at $1,280. We selected the UN menu with a total of 14 courses. Overall, very satisfied with this meal, the first 7/8 appetizers were very impressive: very innovative and inventive without sacrificing the flavor. It then went downhill slightly, I was not so enthusiastic about the small main dishes: its John Dory fish with Yunan spices, its Sweet Bread and Pigeon meats. But then again ended with delicious blue cheese mixed with Chinese nuts. Will highly recommend to those who are more adventurous.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                  Thanks FourSeasons for the report. How does "Soup without water" relate to soup with crab ?! sounds interesting.

                                                                  1. re: skylineR33

                                                                    Sorry, I don't know the answer. I was too busy in the business conversation to listen or remember the presentation when it was served. It was only when I had to write the above review that I realized the soup had such a weird name. Whatever it is, that soup was pretty good...just wish it was served hot, it was just warm by the time we had so they need to pay attention the timing from the kitchen to the table.

                                                                2. Just saw this thread get revived and I will post some of my recent favorites in Hong Kong as I have been traveling there almost every month!

                                                                  Hoi King Heen - Definitely an underrated restaurant located inside InterContinental Grand Stanford hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. I was invited to a few dinners there cooked personally by Chef Leung and almost in every occassion, every dish was beautifully executed, not a single letdown in the whole meal, which was very rare in Chinese feasts. However, I have heard that if Chef Leung isn't cooking the quality drops substantially, and the dim sum there is not really that good. But so far my dinners there were top-notch.

                                                                  - Fu Sing is now having yellow-oil crabs and theirs were incredibly full of aromatic roes! Their dim sum is always quite reliable though the service tends to be spotty.

                                                                  - Manor (or Fu Yiu) at CWB is wonderful for dinner (but not dim sum). It's a more "private label" of West Villa but better. Their seafood and abalone claypot are enjoyable.

                                                                  - I saw Fu Tong which was opened by 'Ah Yut''s pupil but my dim sum experience that was just so-so. Haven't tried their dinner and supposingly the abalone there is as good as Fu Lam but cheaper in price. May consider going there next time when I am in HK.

                                                                  No longer on my radar are:
                                                                  - Cuisine Cuisine: Inconsistent dinners (mentioned below), still ok dim sum
                                                                  - Ming Court: Had very average dim sum and dinner. No more plan to revisit
                                                                  - Tong Lai Shun: Horrible dinner there. Blacklisted
                                                                  - Lei Garden: I don't go there as often now as food is getting too boring for me

                                                                  I have been to BO Innovation, but perhaps I am biased as after visiting WD 50, Alinea, and other gastro. molecular restaurants in the US, the gap between BO Innovation's food and the American is just too big. I thought the flavor was fine but from a gastro molecular food perspective, it hardly excited me.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: kobetobiko

                                                                    Hi Ko:

                                                                    Thanks for your further input. Hoi King Heen and Manor will be on my radar screen in future trips.
                                                                    Since I started this thread more than a year ago, and thanks to the inputs by other serious foodies, I have visited 9 restaurants recommended above other than mine, and I will rank them as follow according to my tastebud and experience:
                                                                    1. Tim's Kitchen (tried the one at Macau, not Hong Kong),
                                                                    2. Yung Kee 4th floor,
                                                                    3. Fook Lam Moon,
                                                                    4. Bo Innovation,
                                                                    5. Tang Court,
                                                                    6. Tien Heung Lau,
                                                                    7. Glenn's Kitchen,
                                                                    8. Ying Yang,
                                                                    9. Cuisine Cuisine.

                                                                    Cuisine Cuisine was the one I was disappointed. The rest are good but unlikely I will return to those ranking from 5th to 9th. Tang is inferior to Lei Garden IFC and Wanchai, and since I stayed in Hong Kong most of the time, I would rather return back to Lei Garden. THL is not good value for money, I can get better value and superior quality in Shanghai. Glenn's and Ying Yang are pretty interesting for first visit but there are still many other places I want to explore.
                                                                    One opportunity cost for visiting these places is that I am missing my old favorites. Perhaps time to revisit them on next trip.

                                                                    1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                      Love reading about your HK dining experience - btw, you guys should consider setting up individual threads for the really outstanding meals - gives more visibility to that particular meal/experience.

                                                                  2. Just came back from Hong Kong again. I have to thank Kobetibiko for recommending Manor and Hoi King Heen (thanks to sher.eats as well for this one).

                                                                    But first, I was back at Tien Heung Lau (first wrote the review here on Aug 5, 08) again. This time, I am converted: I am a big fan of THL!!! Perhaps it is the hairy crab season that makes the difference, or the mood of the chef, the experience this time was top notch compared to the last one despite the same dishes. Huge thumb up on crab roe shark fin 蟹黃翅 and crab roe noodle 蟹粉撈麵 (both with roe from hairy crabs), smoked yellow fish 煙薰黃魚, river shrimp 龍井蝦仁(this time, unlike the last experience, the flavor of Long Jin leaf accompanies the shrimps) and deep fried frog leg 炸田雞腿 . Don't bother to order the Tong Puo Ro 東坡肉, the only disappointing dish of the evening.

                                                                    We had a birthday feast in Hoi King Heen (at Tsim Sha Tsui) so the dinner menu was booked with the help of master chef Leung prior to the dinner. Unfortunately, his famous signature dish "Fortune Chicken" 富貴雞 was not suitable as a dish for a birthday feast according to Cantonese tradition. A few dishes that really impressed me on this evening:
                                                                    -a mixture of appetizers consisting 玫瑰花燻帶子, 酒香五花腩, 瑪瑙拌雞絲, 富貴火腿片, 燒鳳肝 (kind of difficult for me to translate, basically scallop, beef, chicken, pork leg, goose liver): every ingredient was delicious.
                                                                    -沙魚骨湯四寶元肚 shark bone soup came with whole silk chicken (原隻竹絲雞) inside the pork stomach stuffed with the “four treasures” (四寶) of lotus seeds, Chinese ham, glutinous rice, and red dates(蓮子, 火腿, 糯米, 紅棗).
                                                                    -古法蟠龍鱔 signature dish, translated as dragon eel.
                                                                    -脆皮雞 fried crispy chicken, crispy on the exterior skin, but moist and meaty flavor on the inside, very well done.
                                                                    Ordered 4 other dishes; they were decent but not in the same league as I mentioned above.

                                                                    Manor at Causeway Bay also deserves special recognition. It seems this place is not so well known as my friends in Hong Kong knew nothing about it. Have to say it surprised me on the upside!!! A few outstanding dishes we ordered:
                                                                    -appetizer of 皮蛋, 咸蛋黃茄子, 滷水豬腳仔 (goose egg, salted egg eggplant, pork knuckles) provide good appetite for the dinner.
                                                                    -古法金錢雞: very traditional Cantonese dish with combination of pork belly, char siu and chicken liver (if I remember correctly) that is so fatty with high cholesterol but yet so extremely delicious.
                                                                    -薑蔥鮑魚煲: small abalones with ginger and scallion on pot; if you love abalone, you must order this dish!!!
                                                                    -花雕蒸蟹: crabs with hua diao flavor, on par with my favorite at Fu Sing; though this one has deeper hua diao flavor.
                                                                    -包脆清明鵝: roast goose here is even better than the one I had in Yung Kee 4th floor a few months ago!!!
                                                                    Ordered another 5 dishes; have to say 2 were disappointing but the other 3 were decent.

                                                                    And last, I visited the supposedly best Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong because this is the only one crowned with Michelin 3 stars: Lung King Heen. Overall, the lunch was decent but yet there is nothing that really wow me here. Ordered 3 dim sum and 4 dishes; the only dish deserves mention is "baked chicken casserole with black truffle",kind of a fusion Cantonese dish,perhaps that is why the French critics love this place!!! I have to join the others' views that while I feel this is a decent restaurant, it is no where near the top league of Chinese restaurants in HK.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: FourSeasons

                                                                      Hello Fourseasons,
                                                                      Whilst having a 'restricted diet' inner with some foodie friends yesterday, I was told apparently that the 'Manor' is the go-to place for a lot of socialites and celebrities. If one goes there late in the evening, one would notice a lot of high end sedans and sports car 'double' parked around the place.

                                                                    2. Listen, any serious foodie that goes to Tokyo and eats Chinese food is just plain misguided. Just like if you fly to Mexico just to eat Japanese food. Why even do it? If you travel anywhere in the world you should seek out what the local folks are eating? On any budget there are so many great places to eat but eating Chinese in Tokyo was never done by my group of diners the ten months I live in Tokyo. Now HK, I grew up in LS but I can tell you, the food in HK are the best in the world. Even when people ask me about Peking duck since I lived in Beijing for four years I am the resident expert on Peking duck. I share with them the best Peking duck I ever had was in Kowloon, the bird was fatter, juice juice juice came out from under the skin, scoop that juice onto the rice and WALA, dinner is served, all other dishes are for eye dressing. My LA friend ate a whole bird all by himself and ate not one thing from the other dishes. The point is, I can find great sushi in HK, Mexican food in Wanchai, I never had a good Chinese meal in Japan ever so kill me.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: smileyko

                                                                        I agree with you on how difficult it is to find good Chinese food in Tokyo. High-end Chinese food is also very expensive in Japan.
                                                                        What kind of Peking duck did you have - so much so that you can actually get juice to put over your rice!

                                                                        1. re: M_Gomez

                                                                          It was in TST, walking distant from the Peninsula Hotel, the name has Peking in it, like Peking Yuan? Peking Garden, Old Peking Garden, something like that. Also, I ask them to cut off the meat with the skin, which they NEVER do in Beijing, I don't dip in the sugar, some do and they go wild with it, Aussie reds are really good with the duck juice on rice. When you are with close friends or family, I put the rice right on top of the big plate and mix, you know what heaven is like when you gulf it down on a cold night in HK.