Friday, September 1, 2017

Family Dimsum Lunch

Shang Palace at Kowloon Shangri-La was filled to the capacity already when we went for an early dimsum brunch one Sunday morning last month - much to my surprise given we arrived well before normal lunch hours. We rarely dined in TST East area but thought we should give it a try, thanks to some expiring cash coupons I got as benefits for being a certain credit card holder.

While most hotels went for a modern facelift in recent times, décor at Kowloon Shangri-La still retained those old-school luxury hotel feel with a golden tone, marble floor and the big crystal chandeliers in the lobby (and the interesting and unique fragrance they use for their entire group of hotels). Similar theme was extended to Shang Palace, their Chinese restaurant in the basement level, with the elaborate wooden furniture, well-designed classic china tableware, and red lacquered walls. The Chinatown restaurant-like interior certainly attracts to the tourist crowd and I thought it's tastefully done without being too cliché for the locals too.

We were seated right in the middle of the spacious dining room and was offered the menus once we settled down. There were a dozen or so dimsum dishes available during lunch service, in addition to the regular a la carte choices or the set menus, ranging from the traditional Chinese delicacies (abalones, sea cucumber and alike) to some of the family style dishes. We went for a few dimsum to share plus a couple other dishes.

I thought most of the dishes were delicious, particularly the pair of shrimp dimsum items. First were the shrimp dumplings, or har-gow in Cantonese, which may not have the thinnest wrapper but the filling was tasty with a good bite of bamboo shoot brunoise mixed in. It went well with the trio of chili sauces served as condiments. The steamed rice flour rolls with shrimps also came with decent portion, served with a drizzling of sweet soy sauce.

The stewed beef tripes were served in a mini clay casserole; they were tender and infused with the slightly spicy stewing sauce. The baked turnip puff was said to be made with 60-month iberico jamon - though the presence of the prized ham was hardly noticeable, to be honest, but overall I thought it’s delicious with the flaky puff pastry shell. I love the flavor of the stir-fry "carrot cake", with plenty of XO sauce spread on top but I would prefer a crispier crust for a better texture. I thought they were a bit “mushy” and too soft.

And I also had one major pet peeve for all the dimsum dishes - none of them were piping hot when they arrived at our table. That compounded by the fact that all of the dishes arrived at around the same time - so by the time we got to some of our food it was lukewarm at best. Definitely not something to my liking, and perhaps they were slightly understaffed to cope with the Sunday lunch crowd hence affecting the quality.

I heard good things about their Cantonese barbecue dishes, so I also ordered the char-siu. Love the texture and the taste of the meat (well-brined and marinated before put to the grill), but the pieces were rather lean and lacked the charred bark on the outside. The glaze was dominated by honey flavor - it was fine as I preferred it sweet anyway, but I thought the extra splash of soy sauce on top was unnecessary - it did make the overall taste a bit off-balance. That plus it's among one of the priciest char siu I have tasted. Hmm.

Took a longer while for the rice at our table, but our fried rice wrapped in lotus leaves was outstanding, with the rice mixed with shredded duck meat, dried scallops and abalone sauce. We ordered a couple of desserts at the end and I liked them both. The baked walnut pastries were shaped just like a giant walnut with the sweet lotus bean paste filling and a nutty pastry on the outside. The baked sago pudding is always my favorite and finally we got one dish served at just the right temperature like it’s warm off the oven, with the right custard texture and the sweet chestnut paste in the center.

Everything combined the meal was decent; not all the food hit the spot but we enjoyed our meal. Probably a bit overpriced if you pushed for my honest opinion, but I guess you also paid for the ambiance and the experience of dining at one of the most legendary Chinese restaurants in town (with two Michelin stars to show forth).

More photos on Flickr:

When? August 13 2017
Where? Shang Palace, Lower Level, Kowloon Shangri-la Hotel, 64 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Baked Walnut Pastries with Lotus Seed Paste

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