Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Lung King Heen Chan Yan Tak

Lung King Heen (LKH), located on the 4th floor of luxurious Four Seasons Hotel, is arguably the most famous Chinese restaurant in the world. It was all because of the unprecedented 3-star Michelin award given to this place more than a decade ago as the first recipient coming from a dining place serving Cantonese cuisine to be more precise. I've been to this place about 2-3 times prior to this meal for both lunch and dinner; eating dim sum and dishes to share as well as savoring the seasonal tasting menu. The "best" thing about LKH is probably its consistency to deliver tasty and good quality dishes. It might not be among my top 10 dining institutions around the globe, but I could not recall I had a bad meal here. It's definitely not an easy feature given Lung King-heen serving more than 100 different items regularly, varying from dim sum to siu mei (Hong Kong-style barbecue), braising and stir-frying as well as dishes prepared with a few others cooking techniques. This could only happen because the kitchen, led by the master chef Chan Yan Tak, has nearly 50 members working daily for 7 days a week.

Chef Chan Yan-tak did not enter to this trade because of its glory like now, but more due to the difficult economy situation when his father passed away. He already worked in the kitchen when he's 12 starting in the mid 60's. During that time until the early 90's, cooking was often recognized as the job for those who could not make it at school or elsewhere in Hong Kong. His patient and tenacity finally paid off; slowly but surely he rose in the rank and position. Chef Chan had become the head chef of Lai Ching Heen (at the Regent hotel) for more than 15 years before he called it a day. However, Four Seasons HK somehow managed to persuade him out of retirement in the early 2000's and the rests as we know now were history.

Lung King Heen was a huge restaurant (maybe the biggest one with 3-star award?) with understated decoration. There was a water feature as guests entered the restaurant. As they're escorted to the tables, diners should notice plenty of woods and glasses. The tables, with fresh flowers on top, were large with generous spaces among them. This made the ambiance warm and relaxed - a big contrast to the more opulent interiors at Caprice, LKH's sister restaurant - so, it's common to notice that some patrons would prefer to dress informally. Perhaps, the most striking aspect about the dining room was the Victoria harbor panorama. Given the stature and importance of Lung King Heen, I felt I owed this place a full review and this time I would highlight my latest meal here taking place in the Autumn of 2018.      

A Taste of Traditional Canton

Crispy Suckling Pig with Chinese Pancake - Crunchy & crackling skin with rather thick but tender meat as well as the right amount of sauce, delicious

Deep-Fried Crab Shell Stuffed with Onions and Fresh Crab Meat - Another classic dish one would often find in HK top Cantonese restaurant. The breadcrumbs coating crust was prepared until golden and crunchy. Inside the shell was filled with generous and fresh crab meat and not so rich but creamy sauce. I took advantage of the light yet umami worcestershire sauce; this and the onion balanced any intense crab's taste
Accompanied by wine: Muscat Puchang Vineyard | China 2015

Superior Pottage with Shredded Chicken and Fish Maw - Not usually a fan of Chinese soup, but this one was better than expected. Unlike more "normal" Asian soup, this one was relatively thick, fragrant and rich (having quite high viscosity). In addition of the chicken and small amount of fish maw, there were shredded carrot, fungus, bamboo and scallions provided some extra layers of textures. The first few bytes might be intense, but it felt more enjoyable and easier to consume afterwards; complex but tasty

Sautéed Superior Australian Wagyu Beef with Fresh Lily Bulbs and Lotus Seeds - The Wagyu beef was first seared, then stir-fried together with the red & yellow bell peppers, asparagus, onions etc.The beef was kinda salty, tender but not too marbling. Hence a bit "beefy" nevertheless a good & 'simple' dish; not oily
Accompanied by wine: Château de Fonbel | France 2009

Braised 30 Heads Oma Abalone with Sea Cucumber and Chinese Mushrooms - A very fine quality of dried abalone; it had distinct aroma, complex taste and tender yet springy texture. Whereas the sea cucumber was soft and mild in which the flavor was derived by absorbing the 'supreme' brown sauce. The stock / sauce was intense and deep but not too thick. The mushroom was intoxicating in aroma with firm texture. Traditional Cantonese food prepared with superior ingredients by talented kitchen
Accompanied by wine: Sherry Old Harvest Medium Dry Ximénez- Spínola | Spain

Braised Seasonal Vegetables with Bamboo Piths and Maitake Mushrooms - After the last 2 heavy dishes, it was a relieve to have this delicate course. The versatile Australian spinach was intensely green with mild taste and soft texture; it was combined with tender & fragrant bamboo mushroom. On the contrary to these produce, the maitake was more crunchy. The clear and clean stock nicely tied these elements altogether
Accompanied by wine: Chardonnay Mineral Weingut Friedrich Becker | Germany 2015

Lung King Heen Fried Rice with Assorted Seafood - Similar to Japanese kaiseki, prior to the dessert ... the Chinese tasting menu would serve a rice dish (sometimes noodle). LKH is famous for its seafood fried rice and it was very tasty indeed. The rice grains were distinct and also cooked with shrimp head's oil. The seafood was a mixture of lobster, fish, crab, conpoy etc. Feel free to add the provided chili or XO sauce. If you order a la carte, this fried rice was also worth for sharing

Sweetened Almond Cream with Glutinous Rice Dumplings - The almond cream was not that sweet actually. While the glutinous rice had lovely texture, the number of "dumplings" was too few and the filing (sesame) was too little. Therefore, the overall taste was a bit plain ... not bad, but could've been better. Anyway, sweets were usually not the forte of any Chinese restaurant
Accompanied by wine: Moscato d’Asti Sant llario Ca'd'Gal | Italy 2016

While it has become more common for Chinese restaurants using Western / Japanese ingredients, the cooking and technique applied at Lung King Heen was unmistakably Cantonese. Although they did not go as well as the ones done at French cuisine, the wine pairings that night were interesting and offered at quite reasonable price. Generally, I still preferred to consume the food with hot Chinese tea. Like the kitchen team, the front of the house delivered top notch service. Staffs were friendly, attentive, polite and warm. They handled clienteles from different background with ease. The operational integration from both ends of the house at LKH went smoothly. Chan Yan Tak, the Executive Chinese chef of the hotel, was not only a brilliant chef, but also a good leader. Readers could see the pictures of the dinner here: Lung King Heen Oct '18. If any of you are interested in seeing my old meal here for comparison (with more contemporary and seasonal dishes), please check - LKH Spring 2015    

Food (and Wine) : 94 pts

Service (and Ambiance) : 93 pts

Overall : 93.5 / 100

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