Meen-ingful meal

Apart from running the famous fast-food restaurant Ricky’s Kitchen and Sichuan restaurant Ricky’s Spicy Kitchen, star chef Ricky Cheung Kam-cheung is also known for being a fussy eater who constantly explores local delicacies.

His recent favorite dinner spot is Meen & Rice at The Pulse in Repulse Bay, a Cantonese eatery touted for its traditional cooking.

Led by veteran chef Man, the semi-opened kitchen has a clear division of labor between dim sum, stir-fry and siu mei, offering all the cha chaan teng staples you can think of, as well as some vegetarian options.

Meen & Rice’s latest hit is its weekday all-you-can-eat dim sum dinner (HK$328), featuring 30 items chosen by the chef, including har gow, siu mai, taro dumplings, Cantonese sponge cake and rice rolls.

According to Cheung, Man’s insistence on freshness is the key to maintaining food quality.

Man, who grew up surrounded by fertile seasonal seafood in Ap Lei Chau, adheres to the old saying Bu shi, bu shi – meaning people only eat an ingredient when it is in season – and has strict rules regarding ingredients and insists on serving only freshly cooked food.

For Cheung, who has high requirements for food quality and dining environment, tasting a variety of fresh, handmade dim sum in a pleasant atmosphere, with a view of Repulse Bay beach and a light sea breeze, is a big deal.

One highlight, the shrimp dumpling with black truffle, is exceptionally flavorful and created by bringing together the sweetness and tender texture of the shrimp, the aromatic Italian black truffle and the chewiness of the thin wrapping skin.

Cheung’s favorite is the siu mai topped with whole abalone, in which the filling combines hand-cut picnic ham and shrimp, offering a bouncy texture. A whole abalone on top adds a luxurious touch.

Though the restaurant specializes in dim sums, noodles and congee, the homemade siu mei items are also worth trying, such as Iberico char siu, roast pork belly, poached chicken and soy sauce chicken. The all-you-can-eat offering also comes with a complimentary dish of the restaurant’s signature assorted barbecued meat.

Cheung recommends the roast pork belly, which only uses pork belly with balanced fat-and-thin portions that enhance the meaty taste.

According to Man, it is one of the most time-consuming and challenging dishes to make – the belly skin needs to be scorched at least twice before the charred parts are scraped off to achieve a crispy texture. Throughout this, the meat cannot be exposed to heat for too long if it is to retain its juiciness and tenderness.

Another highlight for Cheung are the wine pairing (from HK$50) options, which include red, white and sparkling wines.

Cheung recommends pairing the har gow, siu mai and deep-fried dace fish balls with sparkling wine for fine and rich foams and moderate acidity.

The Gunn Estate Reserve Marlborough sauvignon blanc 2020 from New Zealand is made from the famous green grape and has a tropical fruity aroma that is perfect for seafood and vegetables.

Meanwhile, the Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) Saga Pauillac 2016 from Bordeaux contains a generous amount of tannin to balance the fattiness and oiliness of meat.

Cheung is just as effusive about the restaurant’s steamed and stir-fried offerings.

Sauteed shrimp balls with XO sauce (HK$238) and steamed grouper (HK$298), which is caught fresh daily, are must-tries.

The shrimp is full of wok hei that is fragrant and not too spicy, while maintaining the tender and sweet qualities of the crustacean.

The steamed grouper is topped with slices of shiitake mushroom and Jinhua ham, offering an unforgettable briny punch.

(This article was published at The Standard on April 16, 2021: Weekend Glitz: Meen-ingful meal )

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