Monday, June 26, 2017

Hangzhou Guest Chef

The industrial area of Lai Chi Kok on Kowloon side seems to be an unusual place to open a high-end restaurant, but someone had the vision to start a new trend, not only with one but a couple fine dining outlets all housed under one roof in the form of a posh private dining club called Greater China Club inside a modified commercial building in the midst of factories.

Last week I finally trekked over there for the first time to check out the new guest chef menu introduced at their Chinese restaurant "Man Hing", featuring a series of contemporary Hangzhou dishes created by Chef Shi Jun. As I was led into the private dining room, I was impressed by the classy décor done in traditional Chinese style with well-designed ceramics tableware inside our private dining room with 2 tables of 12.

Most of the dishes we had were only available for a limited time. Ones I love most were the series of cold appetizers presented in fancy presentation at the beginning of our meal. The chunks of lotus root were marinated and served with a slightly sweet glaze; the seasonal bamboo shoot stalks were stacked in a small plate with drizzles of sesame sauce with Sichuan pepper oil. And among all I particularly enjoyed the celtuce, tied into fancy knots, then broiled with the infusion of Sichuan pepper flavor and chilled, giving the dish a hint of numbing kick with a crunchy texture.

The soup of matsutake mushroom was served in individual portion with bamboo pith and mashed fish meat shaped like a flower petals floating on top. Apart from the impeccable presentation, I love the rich earthy flavor in the consommé. Another dish that captured our eyes was the braised pork belly that was thinly sliced and plated like a mini pagoda, with dried bamboo shoot hidden underneath, which also scored high on both appearance and taste. Chef Shi sounded like it's so simple to make when we asked how he managed to slice the meat paper-thin than rolled into such shape!

Freshwater eel is another iconic ingredient in Hangzhou Cuisine, but one we had was served with a twist. Apart from the traditional cooking of braising with a rich gravy sauce, chunks of mini razor clams were added, bringing in a new dimension of textures and umami flavor. Towards the end our meal, we were served a small bowl of fish noodles infused with spinach sauce, with the "noodles" made with mashed fish meat and steamed to give this a firm and slightly bouncy texture, serving along with a piece of the fragrant Chinese black truffles. I did enjoy this interesting combination of flavor and fusion-like presentation (reminded me of a pasta dish)

And for desserts, we had a couple Hangzhou-specialty sweets, both in slightly different style but equally enjoyable, especially the mung-bean cake which has a nostalgic flavor. It's still probably a bit out of the way for some, but the meal came out above my expectation and it's certainly good to try something new in an unfamiliar neighborhood once in a while.

(The event was by invitation and based on a special guest chef menu available for limited time only)

When? June 20 2017
Where? Man Hing at Greater China Club, Level 10, D2 Place One, 9 Sheung Yee Street, Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon
Menu Highlights? Braised sliced pork belly with dried bamboo shoots and Chinese cabbage

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