Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Better late than never

The other night my friend D organized a small dinner gathering at Yee Tung Heen at The Excelsior in Causeway Bay. I didn't know why I have never been to the restaurant before after all these years of its existence, but I was eager to check it out after hearing all the great things about Chef Wong's cooking and seeing all the delicious food pictures constantly posted on D's Facebook wall as she's the regular here.

The restaurant, behind the red-lacquer façade in a cozy but spacious setting, was buzzed with customers even on a Monday evening. We left it to D and Chef Wong to decide on the menu and they came up with a few home-style dishes. We began with the cold appetizer of jellyfish seasoned with the spicy Sichuan dressing, with the punchy Sichuan pepper flavor and a hint of vinegar working well with the crunchy jellyfish.

The soup, listed as "Chef Wong's Special" on our menu, was served in a traditional clay teapot. The clear soup was full of umami-rich flavors with scores of ingredients put in and cooked for hours. I lost track of what actually went in half-way through as Chef Wong came to explain - what do I know about Cantonese cuisine anyway - but I know it was super tasty. The beef brisket, which arrived next, has rich, gamey taste and a slightly bouncy texture, with the tender meat was attached to the soft tendons and some fatty part.

All the dishes were well-executed, but the star of the night was definitely the chicken, brought to our table still in a salt-crusted dome on a deep plate. The dome was then cracked open in front of us before the bird was carved. The chicken was marinated with light soy sauce and Chinese rose wine before wrapped in sea salt and baked in the oven. The skin has this rosy, shiny hue from the wine marinate and the meat underneath was moist and well-infused with mellow flavors.

The fried sticky rice was another dish I liked, done in the classic way with slices of Chinese sausages and cured meat. The rice grain was just cooked through with a firm texture and a thin coat of oil. Dessert was served as individual platter. I particularly loved the baked sago pudding with chestnut - I only wish the portion was bigger!

Good we managed to squeeze this meal in to meet up in the midst of the busy holiday season, and I am glad to have come and tried the dishes here at last. Will definitely be back - maybe for dimsum next time, or another casual dinner.

When? December 12 2016
Where? Yee Yung Heen, The Excelsior, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Traditional Salt-baked Chicken
Web: www.mandarinoriental.com/excelsior/fine-dining/yee-tung-heen/

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