Cantonese classics

After a Western feast-filled December, it’s time to balance it out with authentic Cantonese food.

At the two-Michelin-starred Ying Jee Club in Central, chef Siu Hin-chi pays tribute to vanishing Cantonese classics with an eight-course tasting menu (HK$880), showcasing technically-demanding delicacies popular between the 1930s and 1960s.

Kicking off the nostalgic trip is the crispy taro toast with prawn, a popular canape served at lavish banquets. The taro is fried to a golden brown, then topped with mushroom and spring onion sauce.

Soup is a staple in every Cantonese meal. The imperial bird’s nest broth with partridge offers a luxurious experience comprising finely minced partridge, yam puree and egg white ribbons simmered in partridge stock and topped with the bird’s nest. “The thick silky rice-less soup tastes like congee, with a savory note and is a delicacy that was highly praised,” said Siu.

The steamed leopard coral garoupa looks ordinary, but it is an explosion of umami. Layered and steamed together, the shredded pork brings out the freshness of the fish fillet while the fish and the tofu at the bottom soak up the meat’s fat and flavor.

One of the most memorable dishes has to be the sauteed pigeon with sea cucumber and Yunnan ham. Prepared to order, the sea cucumber is braised for half a day and sauteed with pigeon breast, resulting in a juicy final product. The sweetness is balanced by the Yunnan ham, which is cooked in rock sugar and ginger.

For the braised chicken wings, Siu carefully debones the wings before stuffing them with Yunnan ham and bamboo shoots and braising everything in abalone sauce.

A more complex dish, the steamed fried rice is the last word in luxury. The rice is fried with mushroom, chicken, dried shrimp and conpoy, then wrapped in lotus leaf and steamed before being topped with a whole abalone.

A platter of three kinds of traditional dessert – sago pudding, winter melon paste puff and chilled red bean pudding with coconut milk – is a perfect way to draw the feast to a close.

Available for dine-in lunch, the menu requires a day’s notice. The eatery is now offering a takeaway set menu and an a la carte menu with15 percent discount.

Also in Central, the one-Michelin-starred Duddell’s introduces up to 30 new dishes to the menu, drawing inspiration from various Chinese regional cuisines.

New a la carte dishes from the chef’s recommendations include the pan-fried Hokkaido scallop with homemade crab roe sauce (HK$228), in which the thick and fresh Hokkaido scallops are dried, then scattered with fresh crab meat. The oil from the shell mixes with the crab’s creamy juices, creating a beautiful roe sauce that is pan-fried with the scallops until golden brown. The pairing of scallop and aromatic crab roe brings out the dish’s umami-rich flavors.

Crispy suckling duck (HK$368) is a classic dish that uses the pipa duck processing method. The duck is marinated with an in-house blend of spices, air-dried, smoked and grilled before being finished with scalding hot oil to create a golden-red hue, crispy skin and succulent meat.

Over 25 new dishes have been added to the refreshed dim sum menu – including the soup dumpling with fish maw and whole conpoy (HK$98), shrimp spring roll with cheese and bacon (HK$158), pork and shrimp dumpling with scallop and caviar (HK$68), crispy taro puff with South African dried abalone (HK$88) and sakura shrimp wrinkle rice (HK$78) with conpoy (HK$78).

On the Kowloon side, one-Michellin-starred Yat Tung Heen in Jordan offers its signature delicacies for takeaway with a 15 percent discount for orders over HK$600.

Items include honey-glazed barbecue pork (HK$238), baked Boston lobster in superior soup (HK$498) and steamed rice with pan-fried chicken and mandarin peel in clay pot (HK$298). Those looking to feed the entire family can opt for Yat Tung Heen’s decadent deluxe abalone poon choi (from HK$1,980), which is filled with seafood and barbecued meat.

(This article was published at The Standard on January 8, 2021: Weekend Glitz: Cantonese classics )

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