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Apr 2, 2011 05:42 PM

Tin Lung Heen [Hong Kong]

Tin Lung Heen sits on the 103rd floor of the ICC in Hong Kong and is one of the new Ritz Carlton’s restaurants. The hotel is stunning, although still so new that our two taxi drivers didn’t know how to find it, the entrance is from a podium deck on the 9th floor of the ICC and this is where taxis drop off (up a ramp from the ICC office reception area). Even the view from this area is superb, and there is a coffee and pattiserie area in the pre-reception area. You are ticked off a list in order to access the lift area, guests and booked diners only. The lift takes you up to floor 104 which is the hotels main reception, then an escalator down to a restaurant area, there is a lounge bar that offers drinks, light meals and afternoon tea, this faces directly towards HK island and the view is amazing, there are bench tables along the window for the best views. To the left sits the Italian restaurant (Tosca) and to the right Tin Lung Heen with a view over Stonecutters Island and its bridge.

The hotel only opened days ago and it still feels a bit stiff and formal as it settles into its rhythum, I think we were greeted by over 20 people as we walked through reception to the table and I needed a beer to get over good morning fatigue. It is a good looking restaurant with lots of luxury touches, glass is a feature with lots of hanging and features, the kitchen is along the back wall in the centre of the restaurant with windows so you can see the action.

Two menus are presented, we head for the short but interesting dim sum option, there are nine of us and so split over two tables as the largest in the restaurant seats six (private rooms seat larger parties – but I prefer the action of the main room). I order eleven different dishes and the maitre’d is happy to serve each as nine pieces rather than having to work out how many pieces make up each dish (he tells me that on the menu dishes vary between 2, 3, 4 and 5 pieces). They are:

Vegetable dumplings with morel mushroom – very delicate and light texture and interesting flavours.

Chicken and mushroom dumplings with chili in Sichuan style – nicely refined with very delicate skins.

Dried bean curd sheet rolled with fish maw, sliced chicken, Japanese pumpkin and bamboo piths – a wonderful combination of taste and texture.

Barbecued pork buns – very good, but that said a bun is a bun and whilst these are good they are just a bun.

Pork wonton with chili oil in Sichuan style – these are absolutely superb, good texture and very deep flavours with a very well judged chili hot that balanced with the flavours perfectly rather than dominating.

Steamed rice roll with deep-fried spring roll with shrimp, carrot, black fungus and mushroom – the crunch of the spring roll provides a great textural contrast to the rice roll.

Deep-fried shrimp, bamboo pith and salted egg yolk spring rolls – these are served as long “cigars” upright in a glass, very fresh flavours and not at all oily or greasy.

Wagyu beef pot-sticker with black pepper – promoted as a feature dish and whilst good not memorable.

Baked barbecued pork buns with tasty crust – a very light baked bun with a crispy crust that has a little sweetness - very good.

Vegetarian buns with superior mushroom and black fungus – incredibly delicate with deep flavoured filling.

Traditional baked egg custard tarts – last and disappointingly least. They are light and delicate but this is their fault as they really lack something to make them stand-out.

The food was really good quite the best I have tried and IMO better than T’ang Court at The Langham, Fu Sing maybe a good haunt for a regular inexpensive dim sum lunch, but this is in a very different league and well worth the money (even without the views). Service is as you would expect good, a few teething problems but these are understandable. The team seemed to be really interested in our thoughts and genuinely pleased that we enjoyed the food – the only thing they need to do is train the staff to pour beer whilst the one handed pour may look good a glass of 90% foam to 10% beer isn’t good.

Total bill (including 10% service) was HK $3,533 for nine people and enough food to satisfy all. The food component was approx $2,200 and beer and coffee added $1,400.
Good food – definitely worth the trip, we will return.

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  1. Great review PhilD. In your opinion, another Chinese Michelin 3* in the making?
    Pity when I was in HK last month, it still hasn't opened yet. Otherwise, it'll be great to compare it with Sun Tung Lok! May be next time?!!

    1. I also liked this restaurant. Their dimsum as well as other a la carte dishes were superb. Although Tosca, an Italian restaurant at Ritz Carlton, was very good too, I preferred Tin Lung Heen.

      3 Replies
      1. re: kosmose7

        With ex-Tosca chef Bombana opening up his own Michelin 2* place in Central, any idea who the chef for this newTosca is? Must have a pretty decent credential to man a Ritz Carlton kitchen?!

        1. re: Charles Yu

          Charles, Tosca's chef is Vittorio Lucariello, ex-Grissini (Grand Hyatt HK ) and also Angelini (Shangri-la HK) so not really a new face in Hong Kong's Italian culinary scene:

          1. re: klyeoh

            Wow, klyeoh has explained well.

            More photos of Tin Lung Heen:

      2. Had dinner here tonight - food was brilliant, but service way too patchy. They are trying hard, but clearly needs a fair bit more work to match the level of the food. Still had a really good night and recommend it for the food, hopefully they work out the service kinks as soon as possible.

        34 Replies
          1. re: Charles Yu

            Will write in more detail with some photos when I get home, but;

            Appetiser of Sweet turnip

            Deep fried scallops with mango dip
            Pan fried lotus root stuffed with fresh crab meat
            Crispy roasted pork belly
            Chilled shredded chicken with green onion and chilli oil

            Live crab with salt and chilli, wok fried in soy sauce
            Deep fried crispy chicken

            Then had dessert at the Chocolate Library;

            Chocolate fondue with mashmellow, brownie, brioche and chocolate pasta
            Chocolate souffle with raspberry coulis and chooclate petit fours

            1. re: Camw

              Wow! Reading your post makes me salivate!! Cannot wait to see the photos!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                On May 18th we tried to book Sunday lunch - the first available table is July 24th - it is obviously popular.

                1. re: PhilD

                  Wow! Anyway, Sunday dim sum lunch is very popular in HK, and folks there also love to try a new spot.

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    The head chef of Tin Lung Heen is from Spring Moon, just a heads up.

                    1. re: skylineR33

                      Toronto Lai Wah Heen's dim sum chef used to work in Spring Moon too!
                      Don't understand why Spring Moon's dim sum cannot be better? Considering it is in the 'Grand Dame' Peninsular!! For such a famous hotel, if I am the management, I would make every restaurants inside the complex 'Michelin Star' ones!! How interesting none of the restaurants currently inside the Peninsular has a star?!!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Rumour has it that the Peninsula has refused to receive any star for its restaurants. I surely think at least Gaddi's and Spring Moon deserve some stars. However, definitely not its Japanese restaurant Imasa. I tried their kaiseki some years ago and it was my wrost meal I ever had in Hong Kong.

                        1. re: kosmose7

                          Refusing stars is a great urban myth. If you get then you get them, if you don't you don't. They don't ask if you want to have them.

                          1. re: PhilD

                            Although I am not sure about the Peninsula, there have been many cases in the past though, when restaurants actually refused to be rated by Michelin.

                            "With all the doubts about Michelin’s understanding of Japanese tastes, some chefs say a rating in the guide has become a liability. Kunio Tokuoka, head chef at the high-end restaurant Kitcho, said the main Tokyo branch of his restaurant refused a listing in Michelin for fear of turning off customers seeking authentic Japanese cuisine.

                            Mr. Kadowaki, the nouveau Japonais chef, said he turned down a Michelin rating for his restaurant, Kadowaki, partly because the idea of ranking restaurants offended Japanese sensibility against bragging and putting others down.

                            Mr. Naret said a few places did turn down ratings, which they could do by refusing Michelin permission to take photographs for use in the guide."

                            1. re: kosmose7

                              Well that is interesting and goes against what I understood applied in Europe. That said the European guide didn't have photos so wasn't beholden to the restaurant for a listing, maybe the photos have had unintended consequences. In Europe you knew of a place didn't have a rating it didn't receive one rather than didn't accept one. And considering most restaurant brands really want stars it doesn't seem plausible the Peninsular said no especially as both Gaddi's and Spring Moon are featured in the guide (2011 edition) with comfort ratings (and photos) but zero stars.

                              The other odd thing for me in HK is the lack of focus on the chef, again Europe the star goes to a combination of chef and restaurant, a change in either generally means a loss of stars - in HK no chefs are listed. Now Jean-Luc Naret, has gone maybe the new team will synchronise the philosophy/standard to give it voracity in this region.

                              1. re: PhilD

                                >And considering most restaurant brands really want stars it doesn't seem plausible the Peninsular said no especially as both Gaddi's and Spring Moon are featured in the guide (2011 edition) with comfort ratings (and photos) but zero stars.

                                How can you be sure about that? Obviously they could have refused to receive stars but they still could have been listed with comfort ratings. The truth is, we really don't know.

                                Besides, personally I don't care too much whether a restaurant is Michelin-starred or not, since often times, many Michelin awarded facilities in Hong Kong are outperformed by less known peers. Lung King Heen, although a good Chinese restaurant, could be one example.

                                1. re: kosmose7

                                  Of course neither of us "know". But the article was explicit, and basically said we can't include them if they refuse a photo. This is clearly not the case here as they are in the guide. This appears to refute the rumour you bought to our attention.

                                  Whether the guide is accurate is a different discussion, but if you don't rate the guide why did you say: "I surely think at least Gaddi's and Spring Moon deserve some stars. " That seems a contradiction?

                                  1. re: PhilD

                                    I think you can refuse to participate in Michelin's rating system:



                                    Some chefs, sadly, chose to close their eponymous restaurants & return the 3-stars - like my old favorite here:

                                    1. re: klyeoh

                                      Thanks for the informative links! :)

                                      1. re: klyeoh

                                        klyeoh, your above captioned article was dated 2005.
                                        To date, I thought Sanderen is back with full stars blasting?!!

                                        1. re: Charles Yu

                                          Chefs like Joel Robuchon & Alain Senderens closed their restaurants & gave back the stars at the time because they didn't want to go through the stress of having to maintain those. I guess after a self-imposed sabbatical, they'd sometime choose to come back.

                                        2. re: klyeoh

                                          I am not certain that is what these links demonstrate. One chef closed his restaurant, and it is rather pointless to have closed places in a guide. His new more casual one has won stars so was Michelin the reason or the excuse? Another chef went for simpler food (he was elderly) and probably lost stars as a result, but "gave them back" in his PR. In Japan places were rated but didn't want to cooperate - however, I understand, they still went in the guide.

                                          I read a lot about chefs giving back awards and stars. But if you look beyond the PR puff they often choose to reformat their restaurants and cook simpler (cheaper) food. Maybe they are tired, maybe the economics got to them, however they don't lose face if the "give stars back" instead of losing stars in the assessment. I am still far from convinced you can refuse them, but obviously they go away if you drop standards.

                                          Kosmose7: are you saying that you believe Michelin rated Spring Moon and Gaddis in HK. and then gave them three and five "knives and forks" (the assessment of comfort - read their write ups in the guide) respectively. They then wrote them up, gave the wine list at Gaddis an interesting assessment, and then published all these details of them in the guide but didn't assess the food? And if they did assess the food and find it deserved Michelin stars the hotel then asked the guide not to publish them - it is an odd marketing stance anywhere but especially at the top end of the hotel scene in HK.

                                          I think there is a simpler answer: they were assessed and didn't get any stars.

                                          1. re: PhilD

                                            And Spring Moon doesn't deserve any. Gaddi's, I'm more puzzled about.

                                            1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                              I agree with you totally, Uncle Yabai. Granted that Gaddi's was probably the premier French dining spot back in the 80s, but have lost out somewhat to newer places like Caprice & L'Atelier, I'd have thought that it's still up there with the best in HK. If Bo Innovation can be rated, I don't see why Gaddi's can't.

                                            2. re: PhilD

                                              PhilD, I said I heard a rumour that Peninsula has refused to be listed in the Michelin guide, and I explicitly said that I don't know whether that is true. I do not know the answer, neither do you. You are simply speculating.

                                              What is sure, though, is that you stated at the beginning that no restaurant had the right to refuse to be rated, and obviously that's not the case.

                                          2. re: PhilD

                                            The article said a restaurant can refuse to be "rated" by not allowing to take photos. Where does it say that the photos are for comfort ratings as you insist?

                                            When I said Gaddi's and Spring Moon deserve some stars, I meant "If I were to give them stars". How in the world would I know whether or not to give, or how many stars to give, to a certain restaurant, when I am not a Michelin staff?

                                            1. re: kosmose7

                                              That sounds fishy. In the Tokyo guide, if a rated restaurant refused to let Michelin take photos, they would just insert a picture of the general area, not of the restaurant itself. The picture of Yoshihashi sukiyaki restaurant is that of a nearby shrine. Of course, this is from a restaurant whose business cards say: no cell phones, no children, no photos, no blogs, and no perfume wearers.

                                              1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                All we know is Mr. Naret apparently said it himself. I think any more speculation is simply meaningless.

                                                All in all, I don't know whether the Peninsula actually refused to receive stars. However, at least we know that a restaurant CAN refuse to be rated if it chooses to.

                                                1. re: kosmose7

                                                  What did he say? That some restaurants refused to be rated? Doesn't mean they didn't go in the guide. They just did so without the cooperation of the restaurant (i.e. there are no pictures of the restaurant or the food).

                                                  1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                    You are simply stating your speculations. I mean, simply because Yoshihashi was in the guide and there was no photo of the restaurant, how can you know that the restaurant refused to be rated, and it was included in the guide nevertheless? Could the restaurant have agreed to be listed from the beginning and somehow they didn't take any photos? How can you conclude anything when you have no further information?

                                                    Speculations do not mean anything.

                                                    PhilD stated that restaurants had no right to refuse to be rated, but the point is, a restaurant CAN indeed refuse to be rated, according to Mr. Naret. Period.

                                                    1. re: kosmose7

                                                      I think there are grounds for some debate around the quote in the NYT article, context is everything and who knows how the quote was said or qualified. And as Uncle Yabbi says a refusal doesn't mean you don't get rated. After all if a restaurant can refuse to be rated it fundamentally undermines the whole system, as standards slip they just pull the "I handed back my stars" trick.

                                                      It is also interesting to note that the two chefs/restaurants featured in the article as examples of having refused a rating do actually have Michelin stars - Kunio Tokuoka has four (a three and a one) and Kadowaki two. Seems to directly contradict the article - and these stars are not speculations.

                                                      So bottom line (for me) is that Gaddis and Spring Moon didn't make the grade and maybe the rumour you heard that they refused to be rated was PR fluff, after all they have both been reviewed, rated and photographed and so are in the guide: they just don't stars. Again this is not speculation - they are on pages 117 and 217 of the 2011 guide if you want to check.

                                                      1. re: PhilD

                                                        The reason why this discussion started was because you mentioned, "Refusing stars is a great urban myth. If you get then you get them, if you don't you don't. They don't ask if you want to have them." Well, Mr. Naret explicitly said a restaurant CAN refuse to be rated, contrary to your comment. Any further comments are YOUR speculations.

                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                          Kadowaki rejected the Michelin stars in the first edition and his quote from the international media reflected his view back then. For whatever reasons, whether he accepted it or he has no right to reject it, he was featured with 2 stars in the 2nd and later editions.

                                                        2. re: kosmose7

                                                          I know for a fact that they didn't take any photos because the restaurant didn't want any taken. They also hate food reviewers and bloggers. Wouldn't surprise me if they said "don't put is in your ferkakte guide" and they did anyway.

                                                          1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                            Wouldn't surprise me if they said "don't put is in your ferkakte guide" and they did anyway. ← How can you be sure about that? I am just curious. So are you suggesting that Mr. Naret's comment about restaurants being entitled to refuse the rating is incorrect?

                                                            1. re: kosmose7

                                                              I would suggest that relying on a quote in a newspaper is risky. Narat may have said that, but he may have been quoted out of context which is quite common, and thus it is something I would not rely upon as evidence. I maintain that for every place that has reportedly declined or returned stars there is often a back story that stars were going or were never there.

                                                              So back to Gaddis and Spring Moon are you still saying Michelin reviewed them but didn't put their stars in the book because the hotel asked them not to?

                                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                                Compares to Yan Toh Heen down the road, Spring Moon's food simply is not 'star worthy'!. As for Gaddi's, I always thought, compare to say Petrus, its food is as good if not better and therefore at a lost as to why it lacked at least one!

                                      2. re: kosmose7

                                        Except for Paris Maxim ( because of its long time feud with Michelin ), I have not heard of any by name!

                      2. Finally managed to get here, been trying to book a weekend dim sum, but it just gets more and more crowded, so I settled for a weekday. Restaurant was 2/3 full or so, got fuller as time went by. The view is stunning, especially on a clear day. Food is pretty good too, and at the price point of the high-end Chinese dining rooms in the city, but that is to be expected, this place is high-end.

                        Very broad dim sum menu, even for weekdays, which is a step up from the other usual suspects, which don't have as detailed a dim sum menu on weekdays. Went for some of the basics just to test the place out, and it was pretty good. I'd say a slight notch below Lung King Heen and Sung Tung Lok, but overall very nice. Value for money, Lei Gardens tends to outperform here against all the usual suspects, including this one. The one weak item (a bit too spicy, spices were overwhelming the seafood) was the hot and sour soup with seafood. The Man Wah makes a much better one.

                        Service was fine, except they forgot one of our dishes (which was OK, since we were stuffed already by the time it should have come).

                        Overall, worth adding to the rotation, but forget getting in on a weekend!

                        Lung King Heen
                        Finance Street, Hong Kong , HK

                        Lei Garden
                        IFC Mall, Hong Kong , HK