lung king heen
Four days in Hong Kong didn’t allow me to even begin to scratch the surface of what the city has to offer – plans to hit the dai pai dongs (hawkers), slurp wonton noodles at Chi Kei and try the hot new organic souped-up cha chaan teng Cantopop all sadly fell by the wayside. I did however make time to dine at one of only two 3 Michelin-starred Chinese restaurants in the world (both of which are in Hong Kong). We opted to go with Lung King Heen over Sun Tung Lok, partly for convenience (we were staying at the Four Seasons) but mostly because I heard less than favourable things about the latter.
Compared to the relatively humble dwelling of 2* Tim’s Kitchen, Lung King Heen was properly decked out with silver-leaf ceilings, glossy dark wood floors, immaculately-pressed linens and elaborate floral arrangements. Coupled with magnificent views of the sprawling skyline, it certainly looked the part. The staff were also appropriately knowledgeable and genial (even more so when it transpired that I spoke Cantonese), although the noticeable push of the higher ticket items when ordering did irk a little.
Like Tim’s, Lung King Heen is all about unadulterated contemporary Cantonese classics, without frills, just executed really really well. Marinated Duck Tongues that arrived after a tasty amuse of bean curd and black fungus, were skillfully seasoned with just enough Hua Diao Wine to give an floral boozy kick without any trace of bitterness. To our delight the springy tongues had each been painstakingly deboned – a feat deserving of a star in itself!
A similar attention to detail was displayed with the Barbecued Suckling Pig – perfect squares of crisp crackling concealing equally neat slices of tender pork covered with thin bread sheets. There was no fat on either skin or meat, so you could really taste the pure sweet porcine flavours.
Baked Crab Shell Stuffed with Onions and Fresh Crab Meat in Lobster Sauce didn’t look as spectacular as it read, but smelt and tasted divine. A fine crumb coating blanketed the heavenly mixture of moist crab and soft tender onions saturated in an intense lobster reduction. Not at all heavy or greasy, it ate like a delicate Asian croquette. B could not stop raving about what he thought was one of his favourite bites all year.
Crispy Frogs’ Legs with Spicy Salt were some of the best frogs legs I’ve ever had and addictive as crack. The crisp tasty batter on the meaty legs smacked of umami and again was light and oil-free. The baby sardine cracker that the deep-fried treasures rested on was a nice extra treat.
Roast Chicken is a true testament of a Cantonese chef’s technical ability and Chan Yan Tak’s version was faultless. Paper-thin lacquered skin that shattered when bit into and juicy firm meat, enhanced with a pinch of salt at the table.
Lung King Heen’s signature Lobster Fried Rice with Seafood had an incredible aroma and plenty of “wok hei” (literally, wok air). A perfect ratio of seafood to rice and the chopped green beans added a lovely crunch and freshness.
Vibrant green stir-fried Kai Lan was crunchy with a clean vegetal (rather than bitter) finish. The generous dose of garlic was sweet and not overpoweringly pungent.
We ordered two desserts. The first, Double Boiled Egg White Milk Custard with Bird’s Nest was comforting and silky smooth.
Baked Portugese Milk Custard Tartlets boasted light flaky buttery pastry and quivering eggy centres.
The sommelier, who was excited to serve a table that didn’t make a beeline for the obvious first-growths (we had a vintage champagne followed by an unusually lighter but beautifully balanced French pinot gris which was well recommended by him) poured us a glass of delicious Osmanthus liqueur on the house to pair with Petits Four of Crispy Tofu and Jelly with Wolfberries. A pot of dragon well tea later I was ready to roll the short distance back to our hotel room.
Our dinner, enjoyed from a well-appointed table overlooking the moonlit harbour, was excellent from start to finish, dampened only by the considerable hole it left in our wallets. Yes, there weren’t many flourishes with regard to the food, but one must keep in mind that Chinese haute cuisine is all about ingredients and technique, and on that note Lung King Heen truly excels.
Lung King Heen
Four Seasons Hotel
8 Finance Street
t. 852 3196 8880