The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong: Chocolate Afternoon Tea at the Chocolate Library

One of the highlights of the new Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong is definitely the Chocolate Library.  Located on the 103rd floor, boasting spectacular views of Hong Kong and down into the 102nd floor Tosca, the Chocolate Library is a chocoholics dream.  Whether you crave a delectable chocolate soufflé with iced raspberry (100 HKD) or an indulgent fondue with chocolate pasta and brioche croutons (100 HKD), they have you covered.

Not a big chocolate fan? Try one of the a la carte menu items like The Ritz-Carlton club sandwich (165 HKD), a Caesar (180 HKD) or Nicoise salad (170 HKD) and more.

Ever tried a savory chocolate dish?  If only I’d had one of these years ago for an office cooking competition that required me to create a main dish with chocolate in it!   The Chocolate Library has a couple of interesting items like duck foie gras terrine with coffee and cocoa nibs and toasted walnut raisin bread (185 HKD), or a smoked barberie duck breast with cantaloupe melon confit and chocolate balsamic dressing (185 HKD).

One note on the regular menu items — we did not find the chocolate pancake stack or the signature lobster omelet that Melanie Nayer wrote about in her Huffington Post article.  We were there for the soft grand opening and now that The Ritz-Carlton has had its official grand opening in May, the menu might be different now.  I was really looking forward to those chocolate pancakes!

We also inquired about the special chocolate humidor pictured in her article that you could have engraved and personalized, but alas, not yet available.  Not surprisingly, since it was the soft opening weekend, no one really understood what we were asking about.  Finally the manager came out and said they did not have the chocolate humidors.  He could not provide an expected date, but I have to guess with the official grand opening complete, they should be available now or relatively soon.  (We also asked Melanie when we saw her later that day, but she didn’t have any additional information either).

Since we struck out on the pancakes and humidor — it obviously meant one thing.  We were meant to come for the Chocolate Afternoon Tea rather than breakfast on Sunday!

Sunday morning, we nibbled a bit in the Club Lounge and asked about reservations for the Afternoon Tea since we now had someone joining us.  One of our favorite food bloggers from Hong Kong, 3starbackpacker, was eating at Tin Lung Heen that morning and we’d made plans the day before to meet up for an afternoon at the Chocolate Library.

Unfortunately, it turns out they were not taking reservations (even from hotel guests) as they expected it to be busy.  Brett and I decided to go early to ensure we didn’t miss out — they would not seat people for the tea until it was close to 3pm, so we sat in the lobby for about 30 minutes to ensure we snagged a table.

No problem getting a table and it was surprisingly still only about half-full when we left at 5pm.  One note though — I have since heard from several readers that it is impossible to get reservations now due to its popularity — in fact, I heard from one person they are booked out until August!  If the Chocolate Library is on your list, be sure to contact The Ritz-Carlton directly and find out what availability they have.  If they are indeed booked up that far out, you may be disappointed if you just show up with hopes of walking in.

Chocolate Library Interior

Now, for the food! 3starbackpacker decided to try their chocolate soufflé, and Brett and I ordered the Chocolate Afternoon Tea set of course.  As with any good soufflé, it takes 20 minutes so we started off with a round of drinks.

Eight words for you…

The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong Signature Dark Chocolate.

Oh…my….god.  It was hot chocolate nirvana.  Incredibly rich, decadent, and worth every calorie!

Dark Hot Chocolate

While obviously not as extensive as the Chinese tea offerings in Tin Lung Heen, the Chocolate Library’s tea menu is decent.  There are several selections of black tea (Puer’h included), a classic Tie Guan Yin Oolong tea, and several green tea varieties.  All specialty teas are 70 HKD each.  English style tea fans will find traditional selections available as well.

Tea Journey on the Chocolate Library menu

3StarBackpacker’s soufflé came out perfectly done and our Chocolate Tea Set was much more than we were expecting.  It was rather huge and I recommend coming hungry, otherwise you may experience some difficulty in finishing.  A couple of the desserts on the tea set were in the Club Level Lounge as well, so I knew which one(s) to skip if I couldn’t finish.

Chocolate Souffle

Here’s a look at the tea set — there are two savory sandwiches and the rest are rich, decadent, desserts that are worth every bite!

Chocolate Tea Set Box

Setting up the Chocolate Tea Set

Would we go back again? Absolutely, but I recommend if you are staying on a floor with Club Level access and looking to maximize your dining opportunities — skip the tea set itself (since many of the desserts will likely be available in the Club Lounge) and try some of the other menu specialties you can’t get elsewhere on the property.

The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong
Chocolate Library 103rd floor
International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West
Kowloon, Hong Kong (Kowloon Station MRT)
Phone: +852 2263 2263
The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong Website

 

More posts on The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong dining:

Tin Lung Heen: Cantonese Dim Sum at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

French Cuisine: Michelin Two-Starred Pierre at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

One of the most decorated French chefs in the world is Pierre Gagnaire.  Aside from his signature restaurant in Paris (recently named the 16th best restaurant in the world during San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards in April), Chef Gagnaire has a number of restaurants in other parts of the world.  One of those happens to be the Michelin two-starred Pierre located inside the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.

After enjoying an over-the-top culinary adventure at Mandarin Grill + Bar in January, we were eager to try additional dining options at the Mandarin Oriental, however, we needed some help in choosing between Man Wah and Pierre as we didn’t have time to eat at both this trip.  In chatting with one of our favorite chefs, Angelo Agliano from L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Taipei, he mentioned that Pierre was an excellent option as well.

Pierre it was then.  Geoff Wu, fellow food blogger and the Social Media and E-Commerce Manager for the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, was able to secure a Monday afternoon lunch reservation for us — pretty impressive given it was a holiday!

Located on the 25th floor, adjacent to the cool and chic M Bar, Pierre provides a front row seat for sought after views of the Kowloon peninsula.  Despite the dreary, foggy days that are common this time of year, the ambiance of Pierre easily makes up for it.  The restaurant is intimate, only seating around 60 people. The decor is simple, yet strikingly elegant.

Mandarin Grill + Bar has an olive cart that comes around at the beginning of the meal. Well, Pierre has a Champagne cart!  The champagnes offered include:

  • NV Ruinart “R” Brut
  • NV Ruinart “Blanc de Blancs” Brut
  • NV Ruinart “Rose” Brut
  • NV Krug “Grande Cuvee” Brut
  • NV Comte Audoin de Dampierre, Cuvee des Ambassadors, Brut Premier Cru
Pierre Champagne Cart

Champagne Cart at Pierre

Any restaurant that starts off with a selection of Champagnes like this is quickly winning my support.

While enjoying a glass of bubbly, we found ourselves a bit overwhelmed at the menu options.  There were a surprising number of choices available at lunch — multi-course “Express Lunch” options, four and seven course tasting menus, and the a la carte menu as well.  Brett went with the seven course tasting menu (food $1,488 HK and with wine pairings $2,188 HK) and I opted for the four course one (food $788 HK, $1,128 HK with wine), each paired with a different selection of wines.   The Spring tasting menus just went into service, so we were among the first ones to sample them.

We were instantly greeted with a variety of amuse bouche which set the tone for the rest of the meal — everything Chef Gagnaire does is big and bold.  There is a creative use of ingredients and a selection of multiple dishes for each course.  Geoff warned us that dinner can be up to 4-6 dishes per course! Mental note: don’t eat for a day before if we plan to try any of Pierre’s restaurants for dinner.

The amuse bouche presented to us included:

  • Seaweed Salad
  • Herring + Apple
  • Goat Milk Cheese with Colombo
  • Beetroot Chutney
  • Radish + Celery

 

Beetroot Chutney Amuse Bouche

Goat Milk Cheese with Colombo

The Goat Milk Cheese with Colombo was definitely my favorite.  There was a very subtle curry flavor that came through the goat milk cheese — an unexpected surprise.

After the amuse bouche, we were graced with a selection of freshly made breads. Like so many other good French restaurants, Pierre could easily turn me into a carb lover.  The smell, the softness, and the varied textures were like stepping in a Parisian bakery.  A basket to go please?

Plate of Pierre's freshly baked breads

The first course of our meals was the Duck liver foie gras, glazed pigeon fillets, marmalade of apple and shallots with cinnamon; gellified infusion of artichoke with star anise; tree tomato iced pulp.  Despite my initial fears about the tree tomato iced pulp — this dish tantalized every taste bud.  The combination of spices, sweet acidity of the tree tomato and the umami goodness from the foie gras were sublime.

Brett and I had completely different styles of wine paired with the foie gras course.  Pierre’s sommelier, Hubert Chabot, helps emphasize that wine pairing is not black and white.  Same dish, yet two completely different wines.  Trying side by side was an interesting experiment — both brought out the depth and complexity of the flavors in the dish, yet imparted subtle differences since the Sauvignon Blanc was more acidic over the slightly sweeter dry Tokaji.

My wine pairing: 09 Sauvignon Blanc, Te Muna Road, Craggy Range, New Zealand

Brett’s wine pairing: 09 Furmint Dry, Hetzolo Imperial Estate, Tokaji, Hungary

Foie gras with pigeon fillet

Close up of the Tree Tomato Iced Pulp

The next course was sole fish cooked in the pan with butter then dried; watercress salad, leek stalks, green pepper.  Mariniere of razor clams with seaweed.

I was a bit nervous about the leeks as we had just had a bad experience with leeks and wine on Saturday night at the Ritz-Carlton’s Tosca, so I was not 100% sold on eating them with wine only two days later.  The butter helped soften all the flavors and this combination of leeks and wine was matched perfectly.  I had the Austrian wine paired with my dish and I tried a sip of Brett’s Gavi di Gavi, a wine we previously tried in Mandarin Grill + Bar and loved.

Wine pairing: 2008 Gruner Veltliner, Federspiel, Emmerich Knoll, Wachau, Austria

Wine pairing: 2009 Gavi di Gavi, Batasiolo, Piedmonte, Italy

Sole with watercress salad, leek stalks, and green pepper

For Brett, the next dish in the seven course tasting menu was lobster fricassee with fresh ginger, endive fondue with white balsamic vinegar, curry creamy bisque and black forbidden rice.

Wine pairing: 2008 Saint Joseph, Domain Bernard Gripa, Rhone Valley, France

Lobster Fricassee with Fresh Ginger

Another angle of the Lobster Fricassee

Forbidden rice

The black forbidden rice Brett swore looked like the logo for Mandarin Oriental, although I didn’t quite catch that.  I managed to snag a few bites and this was one of the best courses.  The lobster was incredibly tender and cooked perfectly — the fresh ginger and creamy curry bisque were excellent touches.  Even with such a diverse mix of flavors and textures, this dish was a definite hit.

For Brett, next was a palate cleanser course — pink champagne granita, burrata/cucumber flavored with lime, celery, snow peas, and sticky grapefruit juice.  Cucumber and snow peas aren’t the first things that come to mind when you think palate cleanser, but don’t knock it — the flavors work.  If my parents had fed me vegetables like this as a child, I would’ve been hooked!

Pink Champagne Granita

Now, Brett and I were both set to get our main courses.  Brett’s was end of veal loin with lime and honey, Vichy carrots.  It was served with a tenderloin, caper/lemon/Cremona mustard, spring onions, and button mushroom.

Wine pairing: 1999 Chateaul’Arrosee, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France

Brett's veal tenderloin

A shot of the side with the Pierre logo

My main course was similar, but was a French “Dordogne” pork shoulder with lime and honey, Vichy carrots.  There was also a tenderloin, caper/lemon/Cremona mustard, button mushroom, and spring onions.

Wine pairing: 2005 Cotes du Rhone, Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Rhone Valley, France

My pork shoulder main dish

Main dish accompaniment

The main dishes were more casual and homestyle cooking — reminded me of my Grandmother’s signature stew.  We were pleased to enjoy a course that was more hearty, yet not as heavy as we expected based on the menu description.  The wine pairings on these dishes were a welcome surprise as well.  You don’t often find a 12 year old Grand Cru from Bordeaux included in many tasting menus outside of Europe! Thank you Hubert!

Brett had one more course before we moved on to dessert — cheese! It was three types of French goat cheese; ewe milk veloute, almond paste/green tea.  The course was also served with pear sherbet with Roquefort blue cheese, and kaki fruit pulp.  Each goat cheese was among the best we have tried — smooth and subtle in flavor.

Cheese course as part of the seven course tasting menu

Close up of the cheeses

For both of the tasting menus, the dessert just said “Pierre Grand Dessert”….it should’ve had an “s” on the end of it!  For dessert connoisseurs, this was a sweet tooth nirvana.  In the four course tasting menu, I had three desserts:

Vanilla milk jelly, sago, exotic fruit, pomegranate sorbet. I am used to sago in Asian style desserts so this was a welcome change and a wonderful combination of flavors.  Not overly sweet or really tart.  The creamy milk jelly against the pomegranate sorbet was clean and refreshing.

Vanilla milk jelly, sago, exotic fruit, pomegranate sorbet

San Remo: Limoncello jelly, Lemon meringue, lemon parfait.  Lemon meringue, Limoncello and parfait? How can you go wrong?  This dessert was definitely one of my favorites.  I was surprised – with the abundance of different lemon flavors, I feared that the dessert would just be like sucking on a lemon with some sugar sprinkled on top — it was anything but!

San Remo dessert

Coffee: Coffee ice cream and coffee mousseline.  The only way to have coffee in my opinion!

Coffee ice cream and coffee mousseline

Brett’s three desserts were different and just as incredible as those served with the four course tasting menu.  His desserts included:

Preserved orange, orange ice cream, orange mousse, and orange sauce with Campari.

Preserved orange, orange ice cream, orange mousse, orange sauce with Campari

Parmesan cream tart, pear cooked in kumbawa syrup.  This was my favorite of Brett’s dessert courses.  You could get that Parmesan taste, but mixed with the natural sweetness from the cream and pear, it was hard to pinpoint the exact flavor without someone cluing you in.  It’s such an unexpected taste that I might’ve been stumped had the server not said what it was during service.

Parmesan Cheese Tart

Pierre Gagnaire chocolate: water chocolate, chocolate cream, crispy chocolate biscuit

If you haven’t gathered by now, there is a theme with Pierre’s cuisine (and I’ve heard this from a number of other Pierre Gagnaire fans) — his food is intellectual. It envelops all the senses and requires you to think, not just eat.  Had Geoff not told me he could provide a list of all the dishes before we started, I would’ve needed a tape recorded to adequately relate what was in each course.  Dining in a restaurant of this caliber should be a memorable experience — the food should evoke emotion, satisfy all your senses, be innovative, and challenge you to some degree.  I’ve had French food that was complex for the sake of being complex, but complexity that elevates you to a higher culinary experience is a win.

Some helpful tips if you are considering a visit to Pierre at the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong:

- Secure reservations early.  Allow one to two weeks at a minimum if you can to ensure you don’t miss your desired date/time.

- Book for start of lunch or dinner seating if you plan to do one of the degustation menus.  These take quite a bit of time and you don’t want to be the last ones in the restaurant after they close (like we always seem to be).

- Dress smart.  Like many other premium restaurants in Hong Kong, people dress up for lunch and dinner.  Don’t show up in jeans and tennis shoes — you will feel quite out of place.

- Bring the credit card.  As you can gather from the prices listed in the beginning of the post, Pierre is not inexpensive.  If you plan to do the degustation menu for two, splurge for the accompanied wine pairings — the experience is worth it.

We want to thank both Geoff Wu and the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong for hosting us at Pierre.  We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon and look forward to a return visit.

Disclaimer: Although we were hosted by Geoff and the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, this review is an honest, and unbiased, interpretation of our dining experience.  Had we felt there was anything negative to report, we would’ve included that as well.   — Erin and Brett

Tin Lung Heen: Cantonese Dim Sum at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

This past weekend, we flew to Hong Kong to enjoy a night of pampering at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, which is now the tallest hotel in the world.  Located on the 102nd – 118th floors of the ICC on the Kowloon peninsula, you can pretty much guarantee the restaurants here will become popular with locals and tourists alike.  One of our most anticipated stops of the trip was trying dim sum at Tin Lung Heen, The Ritz-Carlton’s signature Cantonese restaurant.

Tin Lung Heen is on 102nd floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Tin Lung Heen is on 102nd floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

The culinary world has been abuzz as since Chef Paul Lau, formerly of the Peninsula Hotel, was said to be the newly appointed Executive Chef of Tin Lung Heen.  Situated on the 102nd floor overlooking the western part of Hong Kong, we were not at all surprised to see it fully booked at 1pm on Saturday (thankfully, we had made reservations several weeks prior).

We had requested a window spot when making the reservation and we were given a wonderful table overlooking the harbour and a portion of the Kowloon Peninsula.  The floor to ceiling windows extend to the 103rd floor, maximizing the surrounding views and natural light.  Although the restaurant itself is not that big, it feels quite spacious and includes a mixture of traditional dining tables and lounge style booths.  To see the inner workings of Tin Lung Heen, check out the windows into the kitchen in the back of the restaurant.  The design gives you a sneak peek at the chefs hard at work, surrounded by towers of steaming dim sum baskets.

Tin Lung Heen at Ritz Carlton Hong Kong  http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Interior of Tin Lung Heen at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

View from our window table at Tin Lung Heen  http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

View from our window table at Tin Lung Heen

Table Setting Tin Lung Heen   http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Place setting at Tin Lung Heen

Chopstick and spoon detail at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Chopstick and spoon detail at Tin Lung Heen

We started off lunch by asking to see the premium tea menu — a must for me in any fine Cantonese restaurant.  I struggle to understand how restaurants earn Michelin star ratings on their Cantonese cuisine, but do not even offer any premium Chinese teas!

Tin Lung Heen offers a selection of premium white, black/puerh, scented, green, and oolong teas that range in price from 40 HKD to 80 HKD per person.  The selection of house teas are 20 HKD per person.  We opted for the 15 year aged Puerh tea, which is a “black” or fully fermented tea — a gourmet tea quite popular here in Taiwan.

Premium Tea at Tin Lung Heen: 15 Year Aged Puerh Tea http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

15 Year Aged Puerh Tea at Tin Lung Heen

All of Tin Lung Heen’s teas are housed in a special tea room, nearly a mirror image of the massive wine cellar located on the opposite end.  If you are unfamiliar with Chinese tea varieties, ask for a recommendation — don’t miss out because you are unsure of what to order!

Tin Lung Heen Tea Room  http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Tea Room at one end of Tin Lung Heen

We started our Tin Lung Heen dim sum exploration off with the Steamed Rice Roll with Barbecued Iberian Park and Mushroom Filling (68 HKD).  The Iberian Pork was moist and flavorful, perhaps not anything too special or different, but a nice combination.  The rice roll itself was better quality than many we have tried.

Iberian Pork Rice Flour Roll Tin Lung Heen  http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Iberian Pork Rice Flour Roll

Tin Lung Heen Steamed Rice Roll with Iberian Pork http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Close up of Steamed Rice Roll with Iberian Pork

Next to arrive were the Pork and Shrimp Dumplings with Caviar (58 HKD), which are pretty traditional siu mai.  These were one of our favorites — Brett is not normally a fan of these as they tend to have a rubbery consistency, but absolutely raved about these.  The siu mai were perfectly steamed with a good blend of shrimp and pork — not overly strong, which made the caviar stand out.

Shrimp and Pork Siu Mai with Caviar at Tin Lung Heen  http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Shrimp and Pork Dumplings with Caviar

Another menu item that caught our immediate attention was the Wagyu Beef Pot-stickers with Black Pepper (68 HKD).  The pot-stickers were one of the best platings of the day.  The black pepper was a bit overpowering for my palate, but otherwise they were good — a decent amount of meat and not overly thick dumpling skins.  I’d love to see this done with something other than the black pepper to enhance the flavor of the Wagyu, not overpower it.

Wagyu and Black Pepper Potstickers at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Wagyu and Black Pepper Potstickers

Wagyu and Black Pepper Potstickers at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Close up details on one side of the potstickers

Wagyu and Black Pepper Potstickers at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Bottom detail of the Wagyu Potstickers

One dish we highly recommend trying is the Baked Abalone and Goose Puff (88 HKD).  These were incredible and surprisingly easy to eat as the abalone was cut into several pieces.  The rich mixture of the abalone and goose with the light and crispy pastry shell was heaven on a plate.

Abalone and Goose Puffs at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Abalone and Goose Puffs

Deviating from the dim sum menu itself, we ordered the barbecue platter for two off the main menu.  We had been sampling barbecue platters from several other 2 and 3 Michelin starred restaurants in the days prior, making it the perfect time to do a side by side comparison.  I will readily admit going into ordering this, the Michelin two-starred Ming Court is my favorite suckling pig EVER!  I am yet to find any that can hold a candle to theirs, which takes the chef two full days to prepare.  Given that caveat, it was quite likely I was not going to like Tin Lung Heen’s.

Three Meats Barbecue Combo Platter for 2 at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Three Meats Barbecue Combo Platter for 2

Verdict?  Surprisingly, the suckling pig from Tin Lung Heen is not too far behind Ming Court!  Like Ming Court, the suckling pig at Tin Lung Heen is served with the skin and meat sliced separately so you lose that sometimes overly fatty and greasy layer.  The consistency of the skin was similar to Ming Court’s and the meat was quite tender and lean.  The main difference with Tin Lung Heen is the addition of a piece of Chinese puff between the skin and the meat.  Overall, we were quite pleased.  The char siu, or barbecued pork, was also good.  Decent flavor, and it was moist and tender, with just a small amount of fat.  Brett said his piece had more fat and gristle, but was still good.

Barbecued Pork on Combo Platter at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Barbecued Pork on combo platter

The roast goose was excellent, with a nice sauce.  The only potential downside of ordering a combo is the portion size.  You order the combination platters by number of persons, and it is literally just one piece of meat each (100 HKD per person for 3 meats).  If you are ordering a number of dishes and just want a piece of each then this is the perfect way to go.  However, those wanting more than a nibble of each might find it better to order portions of the barbecued meats individually.

Barbecued Goose on Combo Platter at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Goose on barbecued combo platter

The next dish that arrived is one many might find quite controversial — Supreme Shark Fin Dumpling in Lobster Soup (88 HKD).  Normally, we do not seek out and order shark fin, but if it is part of a tasting menu or is personally recommended, we will usually try it as not to offend the chef or our hosts.  In this case, it came recommended multiple times by several of the staff who were eager for us to try it, so we opted to order it.  The large dumpling had a nice thin skin, easily punctured, and the broth had a subtle lobster flavor.  Be sure to try it with the red vinegar.

Supreme Shark Fin Dumpling in Lobster Soup at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Supreme Shark Fin Dumpling in Lobster Soup

We inadvertently saved the best for last — Baked Barbecued Pork Buns with Tasty Crust (48 HKD).  Move over Tim Ho Wan, there’s a new crispy pork bun in town!  Known for their delectable crispy pork buns, 1 Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan draws in 3+ hour waits for their cheap dim sum and crispy pork buns that are so popular there is a limit on the number you can order each day.

Crispy Pork Buns at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Crispy Pork Buns at Tin Lung Heen

Tin Lung Heen’s crispy pork buns are very light and fluffy.  The buns were thinly filled, but with just enough to taste the full sweetness of the barbecue pork.  Personally, I would’ve preferred just a little more sweet pork filling, but they were still easily on par (if not better) than Tim Ho Wan.  And the best part?  No limit of four orders per day!  Had these been on the room service menu…it could’ve been dangerous.

Tin Lung Heen Inside of Crispy Pork Bun  http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Inside of Crispy Pork Bun

If the crispy pork buns were not enough, we still ordered two desserts to finish off — the Chilled Milk Jelly with Black Truffle (68 HKD) and the Chilled Mango Cream with Sago and Pomelo (48 HKD).  I was shocked that the milk jelly was actually flavored with black truffle — not just the two slices on the top!  Like most Chinese desserts, it was not overly sweet and the addition of the black truffle was a hit.  It was very earthy and completely melted in my mouth.

Milk Jelly with Black Truffle at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Milk Jelly with Black Truffle

Milk Jelly with Black Truffle at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Close up of truffle slice on milk jelly

Mango with sago and pomelo is another favorite of mine and the second dessert we ordered.  The light texture and the bright fruit flavors are a great way to cleanse the palate and, for whatever reason, I always walk away feeling a little less stuffed!

Mango Cream Dessert at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Mango Cream

Once we were done, one of the servers came over with another dessert plate.  He said these were complimentary and for us to enjoy.  On the plate were two black sesame rolls of some type and the other were heart shaped red bean and coconut jelly pieces (I think).  Like the other desserts, these were good.  I did not see them on the menu, unless they were the Chef’s special dessert for two.  Had we known they would be bringing these, we wouldn’t have ordered two other desserts — especially since we had dinner reservations later that night at Tosca!

Tin Lung Heen Desserts  http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Complimentary desserts from Tin Lung Heen

Desserts at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Heart shaped dessert at Tin Lung Heen

Black Sesame Dessert at Tin Lung Heen http://ourtastytravels.com/restaurants/tin-lung-heen-cantonese-dim-sum-at-the-ritz-carlton-hong-kong/ #ourtastytravels

Black sesame dessert

Overall, the service for opening weekend was excellent.  For the most part, servers already knew the menu items by memory, had dishes and recommendations ready to go when asked, and they were attentive in pouring the tea, refilling the water, and staggering the dishes.  Tin Lung Heen has a decent array of dim sum offerings and an extensive regular menu that may seem overwhelming when you are dining for two or in a small group.  I lost track at how many menu items I want to come back and try — both off the dim sum and the regular menu.

Reservations are definitely recommended and I would try calling at least one week or more in advance to get your preferred time and date.  Have you already tried Tin Lung Heen?  What are your thoughts on the dim sum and their other Cantonese offerings?  Do you see it as a Michelin star contender?

2014 Update: Tin Lung Heen has been awarded two Michelin stars!

One Michelin-star Mandarin Grill + Bar at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

You might remember I posted in late December about winning an autographed copy of chef Thomas Keller’s French Laundry cookbook when he visited the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong a few weeks prior.  Since Brett and I had not visited the hotel yet, I managed to talk Brett into flying out for the weekend to check out the restaurant that earned the privilege of hosting Thomas Keller.

Mandarin Grill + Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

The Mandarin Grill + Bar is a one-Michelin-star restaurant that offers cuisine and service you would expect from some of the world’s most expensive restaurants.  We researched the menu ahead of time and discovered countless items that piqued our taste buds’ curiosity.  While you can order a la carte, I’d suggest checking out the chef’s tasting menus, designed to let you experience some of the Mandarin Grill’s signature courses.

The menu offerings have just switched over, but when we were there, diners had the option of choosing three chef tasting tours — five (HKD 998), seven (HKD 1,288), or nine courses (HKD 1,488).   These menus could be paired with sommelier suggested wines as well (3 wines HKD 388, 4 wines HKD 488 and 5 wines for HKD 588).

Table settings at the Mandarin Grill + Bar

Mandarin Gril + Bar offers great views into central Hong Kong

It probably comes as no surprise that we instantly opted for the nine course chef’s tour and the five paired wines.

Before we even started with any courses, they brought a basket of freshly baked breads and a cart with olive oils to choose from. The five olive oils were:

  • Italy – Manni L’olio vivo – Blue – Strong Flavoured
  • Italy – Manni L’olio vivo – Gold – Light Flavoured
  • France – Chateau D’Estoublon AOC
  • Spain – El Mil Del Poaig
  • Greece – Lambda

Olive Oil Cart

Basket of gourmet breads

Brett tried the strong truffle Italian oil and I opted for the French one.  If you have the mindset that there’s no difference in olive oil, this is a great way to prove that thought wrong.  We love olive oils and both of these were exceptional offerings and each had a very distinctive taste.  Since starting to write this post, I saw something rather interesting on Twitter — the world’s most expensive olive oil and I recognized the bottle.  It’s the Lambda Greek olive oil served on the Mandarin Grill’s cart!  It’s not the actual most expensive bottle — that one comes engraved and has 18K gold — however, be sure to still try this one if you have the opportunity.

Although we opted for the wine pairing by glass with our dinner, the wine list at the Mandarin Grill + Bar is extensive.  I am not talking about 10 pages, but try 35 pages.  It’s thicker than some books and offers countless wines from around the world and even select sakes.  Overall, the wines were pretty reasonably priced, although we recognized a few selections we’ve seen for slightly less at similar hotel restaurants in Hong Kong, but that is pretty typical.  A note regarding the wines — the attention to detail does not end with a “showy” wine list.  They serve all wines in their respective recommended glasses and use quality (Riedel) stemware.  If you’ve ever done a wine class to understand the importance of serving wines in their recommended glasses, then you can appreciate how frustrating it can be to purchase a $150 bottle of wine and have it served in low-quality glassware that does not even compliment the type of wine you ordered.

Mandarin Grill features extensive wine list

Amuse Bouche

As with many fine restaurants, our evening started with several amuse bouche offerings.  The first of these was a smoked salmon mousse topped with caviar.

The next one was quite impressive in presentation — homemade olives served with a small planted tree, presumably an olive tree.  These olives were not olives in the traditional sense, as they had a jellied texture and consistency, but what an amazing flavor.

The third amuse bouche consisted of homemade cookies served in an elegant box (wish we could’ve kept that box!)  There were two cookies — one basil and one olive — both topped with tomato and Parmesan cheese.  Although meant to be eaten in one bite, Brett and I managed to nibble on just half so we could try them both.  Not sure which was my favorite as they were both excellent and quite representative of the flavor profiles mentioned.

For the amuse bouche and the first course, we were served a glass of “R” de Ruinart Brut Champagne (HKD 198 per glass).  I never thought I’d be a Champagne person, but it continues to grow on me.  This has a nice dry aspect, but a crisp flavor and paired nicely with the amuse bouche and the first dinner course.

First Amouse Bouche: Salmon Mousse Topped with Caviar

2nd Amouse Bouche: Homemade Olives

3rd Amouse Bouche: Homemade Cookies

Side view of the delicious homemade cookies

Mandarin Oriental signature box held the homemade cookies

First Course – Oyster

The first course was an oyster dish.  The Mandarin Grill features an extensive oyster menu, with some high-end offerings that can cost nearly as much as a tasting menu.  There is even an “crustacean bar” for displaying their signature oyster offerings each night.

Crustacean Bar

For our tasting menu, we received one of the more expensive ones, which was from Denmark.  The oyster was served with coconut sago, herbs, lemon, and edible flowers.  The oyster’s flavor was exceptional — fruity, yet smooth and had a nice buttery finish.  We still have a long way to go in understanding oyster flavor profiles, which has been likened to learning about wine varietals.

First Course: Oyster from Denmark

Second Course: Carpaccio

The next course was Carpaccio served with seared tuna, tuna mayo, cucumber rolls, capers, and veal au jus.  The veal had a delicate and lush taste, not surprising considering we were told it was milk-fed.  The dish was nice, although the tuna mayo was a tad overpowering.  The velvety veal’s flavor became slightly lost amongst the strong tuna mayo.

Milk-fed Veal Carpaccio

We were told the wine poured would be for this and the next course (the onion consomme).  It was a 2009 Batasiolo Gavi di Gavi from Piedmont, Italy.  This was an interesting wine with a soft floral nose and crisp fruit tones on the palate.

Third Course: Onion Consomme

This was quite an innovative and fun course.  The course started with an herbal tea bag and teapot being placed on the table.  Then the server (wearing white gloves) dropped the tea bag into the pot and poured the onion consomme inside.  The tea bag disintegrated in the hot broth, and after swirling it around a bit, they poured it into the bowl which had pearl onions, onion sago, and aged gruyere cheese.  The blend of the edible flowers and herbs, with the onion consomme, was a divine combination.  Unfortunately for Brett, he said his teapot was not mixed as well so much of his tea bag contents did not make it in the soup bowl.

Mandarin Oriental's Signature Herbal Tea

Pouring the onion consomme into the teapot

Pearl Onion, Sago, Gruyere Cheese

After swirling the consomme with the herbal tea, it is poured into the cup

Viola! Onion consomme with herbal tea

Fourth Course: Langoustine

Next, we moved on to a bit of seafood with the Langoustine course.  This was served with lobster foam (added tableside), homemade gnocchi, seaweed sponge, and the entire plate dusted with seaweed powder.  I was a bit worried about this course as Brett has a strong aversion to anything with seaweed, but he dove right in.

The langoustine was cooked perfectly and was not tough in the least.  The seaweed sponge was interesting and the gnocchi were amazing.  It’s probably safe to say this was Brett’s least favorite course, but we both figured it would be, so not great surprise there.

Adding the lobster foam tableside

Langoustine and gnocchi with seaweed sponge and powder

The only issue with this course was a bit of miscommunication prior to serving.  To start, we were somewhat surprised that the only person who had not come by and introduced himself was the sommelier, so we asked one of the servers who was the Mandarin Grill’s sommelier.

The sommelier then came by to ask if there was an issue with the wines.  We said no, we just wanted to know who was doing our wine pairings.  Perhaps we’ve just become spoiled, but we are used to the sommelier being an integral part of a multi-course chef’s tasting dinner in most other fine dining establishments.  In any case, we think he had been by at one point, but since he never introduced himself (and we never noticed the wine grape pin), we just had no idea who he was.

Going back to the miscommunication — it was not the sommelier’s fault, but had occurred when the other server initially advised the wine was for the second and third courses only, so we now found ourselves out of wine for this course.  We asked what wine we were supposed to have during this course and I have to hand it to the sommelier (I think his name was Ali), as he just poured a little more of the Gavi di Gavi for the Langoustine since it was supposed to be for three, not two, courses.

Fifth Course: Millionaire

All I can say on this one is WOW!  Fortunately, we would’ve ordered this even if we had gone with the a la carte options, otherwise we would’ve seriously missed out!  This course basically took ten minutes to get set up and prepare tableside.  This was a foie gras and truffle explosion — a course I wish had never ended!  The Millionaire started with a hot cast iron skillet plate that the foie gras was cooked on.  There was an organic duck egg placed alongside it.  As those were cooking, they added truffle croutons, poured truffle jus along the plate, added herbs and topped with shaved black truffles.  We were also given a piece of sweet bread to enjoy along with it.  The entire creation was served atop a giant hay nest, giving it a really rustic — and almost comfort food — feel.  Ironic given we were about to eat foie gras and black truffles.

Getting the two tables set up for the foie gras tableside prep and presentation

Preparing two of the foie gras courses tableside

Millionaire course -- foie gras with organic fried duck egg and shaved black truffles

I cannot say enough about this course — it was beyond our imagination and the presentation was so involved that Brett actually videoed the entire thing.  Normally I would never break out a video camera in a restaurant, but it was something so unique that we wanted to preserve a memory of how much work went into this course.

I take no responsibility for the Blair Witch movie videography skills displayed here — all that credit goes to Brett.  LOL  And yes, that is my camera shutter you can hear going off repeatedly in the background.  Ooops.  For all the good it did — sadly, many of my photos came out pretty grainy given the low light and my desire to remain respectful to other diners by not blinding them with the bright flash.

The wine for this course was 2005 Riesling Egon Muller Scharzhof by Chateau Bela from Slovakia (HKD 145 per glass).  This was an incredible wine and completely unexpected.  I would not have considered a Riesling with this course, but the slight sweetness of the wine definitely cut the richness of the foie gras and truffles.

Sixth Course: Sirloin

It was time for the main course already.  Seems like it was flying by — not because they were serving courses too fast, but we were enjoying the meal so much that I think we just lost track of time…something we invariably do at dinners like these.

This course was whimsical and quite a sight to behold.  It was sirloin served with a “magic mushroom”.  There were mashed potatoes shaped into the stem of a mushroom and the top was an actual mushroom that was covered in a hard candy-like coating.   I believe the server said it was supposed to numb your mouth a little — not sure what it was made with however.

Sirloin with "magic mushroom"

The sirloin was nicely cooked to medium rare and the mushroom displays were quite ingenious.  We were awaiting the chosen wine pairing for this one given it was a rich dish, and a bit complex, to pair a wine with.  We were served a 2007 Alvaro Palacios “Les Terrasses” Priorat from Catalonia, Spain.  What a robust wine — definitely one I want to track down more bottles of.  It is a blend of 40% Carinena, 40% Garnacha and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.  It has a bold blackberry nose and a hint of cherry and chocolate on the palate.  We looked up the wine to verify spelling for this post and learned it is a highly regarded wine, earning 92 points from Wine Advocate, 91 from International Wine Cellar, and 90 points from Wine Spectator.

Seventh Course: Autumn Dessert

The first of three desserts was called “Autumn,” a unique take on a traditional tiramisu.  In keeping what I consider the “forest” theme, the tiramisu resembled a giant mushroom.  The presentation was flawless and the flavor was everything you envision from a quality tiramisu.  As you can tell by the photos, the small details added around the mascarpone cheese give this a realistic look.

"Autumn" Dessert -- Mushroom shaped tiramisu

Another shot of the tiramisu

The dessert wine we finished off with was rather funny.  I had a feeling something was up as he poured the wine with the label facing backwards, and looked several times to ensure it was not visible.  He said it was a 2007 Sauternes and asked us to try it first.  Once we confirmed it was to our liking, he then showed us the label — the name was rather humorous — Chateau de Bastard.  Despite any thoughts you may have about the name, it was an excellent Sauternes.

Eighth Course: Souffle

Based on the a la carte menu, Mandarin Grill + Bar’s dessert specialty definitely seems to be the souffle.  The Chef’s Tour Menu comes with the truffle souffle so we asked if we could try one with a different flavor.  They happily obliged so we ordered one truffle and one candied ginger.   Other souffle choices include chocolate, Grand Marnier, raspberry, and caramel.

The souffles are heavenly and there is no mistaking the respective flavors!  Topped with a small scoop of white chocolate ice cream, these rate among the top souffles I’ve ever tried!

Mandarin Grill's signature truffle souffle -- decadent!

Ninth Course: Truffle Petit Fours

Oh yes, more truffles! Their truffle petit fours were the last course and they were served on an edible cutting board!  The chocolate board had so much detail and we were both stunned when we were told it was edible.  After the amount of food we devoured, it is no surprise we could not finish all the petit fours — we took the chocolate board and several of the truffles to go!

Truffle petit fours -- notice the edible chocolate "cutting board" they are served on

Without a doubt, this was one of the best meals we’ve enjoyed during our travels.  It was not cheap obviously, but certainly not in the league (pricewise) with many other restaurants of this caliber.  After dining at the Mandarin Grill, both Brett and I were shocked they did not have a higher Michelin Guide rating.  They have maintained their one-star status, but we found the cuisine, the service, and the presentation to far exceed many other higher starred restaurants of note.

Uwe Opocensky is the Executive Chef of Mandarin Grill + Bar.  His name might sound familiar as he trained in the world-famous El Bulli in Spain.  Prior to his arrival at the Mandarin Oriental in 2007, I believe he was working with the Shangri-La.  Opocensky is also heading up the uber private dining experience called Krug Room.  It was booked up the night we were there so we didn’t get a tour of it, but that is definitely on my radar for our next trip!

A glimpse of Uwe Opocensky creating his culinary masterpieces

If you have plans on visiting the Mandarin Grill + Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, I’d recommend making reservations at least a week in advance to ensure you get your preferred time.  It was completely booked up the night we were there.  Also, there is a dress code (smart casual) and people were definitely dressed up.  If you have time prior to dinner, be sure to go upstairs and have a drink at the M Bar on the 25th floor — the bar has a host of signature drinks and offers an incredible view of the harbour and Hong Kong skyline.

Overall, this was one of the most enjoyable dinners we’ve had — and definitely beat some of the more renowned restaurants we’ve tried during our travels.  The service was definitely what you’d find in a three-Michelin-star restaurant and the courses that Chef Opocensky created were masterful and engaging, with complex flavor profiles.  The wine pairings were superb and I think it’s important to note that the wines used for our selections were not inexpensive choices, and had we ordered these wines individually, we would’ve spent more than the pairing add on.

Definitely looking forward to our next visit to the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong — we’re looking forward to trying the other restaurants and bars inside the hotel — although it’s going to be hard to pass up visiting the Mandarin Grill + Bar again first though!

Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
5 Connaught Road
Central Hong Kong
+852 2522 0111

Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong: World’s Cheapest Michelin Starred Restaurant

For our most recent trip to Hong Kong last weekend, we had decided to concentrate on a few Michelin-starred restaurants that had been on our list.  A couple days prior to our departure, Andrew Zimmern tweeted about the best dumplings he’s ever had at Tim Ho Wan in Mongkok.  Ironically, we were staying at our beloved Langham Place in Mongkok again so we were quite interested in adding this one Michelin star restaurant to our list.  After a little shuffling, we decided to check them out on Sunday morning for their dim sum.

A little research online indicated this was not a neighborhood secret – lines form sometimes an hour before the 10am opening and waits can easily reach three+ hours!  We were eating a very late multi-course dinner so we decided to take our chances and go around noon since we wouldn’t be hungry in the morning.  It’s a very short walk from Langham Place and easy to miss if you do not know what you are looking for.  Fortunately, I spotted the line of people outside so we hurried over and got a number to secure our place in line.

Small crowd outside Tim Ho Wan

Tim Ho Wan is not what most people would expect in a Michelin-starred restaurant.  The non-descript tiny storefront is located on the street level of an older apartment building and probably has about 10 tables total — if you have clausterphobia issues, this might not be the place for you.  Tables are pushed together and you will be sitting literally elbow to elbow with strangers, but the food is definitely worth it!

The mastermind behind the restaurant is Chef Mark Pui Gor, who used to be the chef of the Four Season’s Three Michelin Starred restaurant.  He made the decision to open his own restaurant, serving quality dim sum at really affordable prices.

Tim Ho Wan interior - very small restaurant

There are menus in English and Chinese and you must get a number on arrival.  You may have to work to get the attention of the “hostess” who likely doesn’t speak English.  If you do not make your presence known, you may fall back another 10 numbers, which could add an hour to your wait!  Some blogs have noted that you need to remain close or be good at timing numbers because they put you back into the queue if you are not there within 10 or 15 minutes of your call time.  Do not think they always go in sequential order either.  We managed to skip probably an hour or so wait since we were the only party of two present.  Every other group had 3 or more, which was a longer wait.  So, they ended up skipping over 10 numbers when they called us.

Sheet on door where they write numbers

Location in non-descript apartment building

Tim Ho Wan is most known for their crispy pork buns, which are unlike any pork bun you have ever tried.  The dough is not the white spongy dough you often find in bbq pork buns, also known as char siu bao.  The dough in Tim Ho Wan’s crispy pork buns is more like a pineapple cake found in Taiwan — slightly sweet and more dense.  The filling is the best char siu I have ever tried.  The meat is incredibly tender and the honey flavor was quite evident, unlike many others that taste like a mouthful of sugar.  Not surprisingly, these are limited to 4 orders per table, which includes take out orders.  So eat wisely and be sure to get your “daily allotment” to go — they make great snacks later in the day. :-)  The price of these culinary masterpieces?  …..$12 HK (about $1.50 US based on current exchange rates).

Crispy Pork Buns

Another shot of these heavenly buns

Can't get enough of these!

The char siu is so tender and has a subtle honey flavor

We tried to order many of the recommended dishes and ended up leaving quite full.  Here is a look at the other items we tried.  The grand total including our two orders of take out buns was less than $20 US (which also factored in tea, tip, and tax!)  Here is a look at the other dishes we sampled:

Steamed fresh shrimp dumplings (ha jiao) $18 HK

A perfect blend of shrimp and crystal dumpling skin.  The shrimp was definitely fresh and much more flavorful than many other dumplings we’ve tried.  I’ve found many cases where the shrimp overpowers the delicate dumpling or you just cannot taste it at all.  Definitely recommend these!

Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumplings

Single Fresh Steamed Shrimp Dumpling

Glue Rice Dumpling $20 HK

This is quite similar to what we call jongzi here in Taiwan and are served during the Dragon Boat Festival in June (although you can find them all over the island other times of the year).  It is a very dense and large pat of glutinous rice typically steamed in banana leaves.  Traditional jongzi have a variety of ingredients that are often quite strong for us (sorry, just cannot get used to the strong taste of dried shrimp here) including salted duck yolk, pork, mushrooms, etc.   The one served at Tim Ho Wan is filled with chicken and mushrooms.  The poultry is quite tender and the mushrooms add a perfect amount of earthiness.  (All I kept thinking about was whether I could pair this with a good red wine as the mushrooms imparted such a beautiful earthy quality to the rice and chicken as well).  This is a heavy dish so consider skipping it if there are only two of you — or just don’t finish all the rice as it will fill you up rather quickly.

Outer leaf of the Glutinous Rice Dumpling

Actual Glutinous Rice Dumpling

Steamed Dumpling in Chiu Chow Style $10 HK

These are crystal skinned dumplings filled with vegetables and a nice amount of crunch.  Chiu Chow style cuisine originates in the north-easternmost area of the Guangdong province and is known for its use of seafood and vegetable dishes, both of which are regarded as being healthy.  The flavors tend to be more mild and delicate.  This was filled with spinach, mushrooms, and garlic.

This was probably my least favorite item, but Brett loved them.  The mix of vegetables and crunch were perfect for him and he loved the delicate taste.

Crystal Dumplings

Steamed Pork Dumpling with Shrimp $18 HK

These are the basic shu mai (spelled a variety of other ways) you find in Cantonese dim sum.  Many places serve them with crab roe on top that Brett finds he is not a fan of, but these lacked the typical “orange dot” in the center.  These delights were overflowing with bits of shrimp and pork that were evenly balanced.  Definitely one dish not to miss.

Steamed Pork Dumplings with Shrimp

Deep Fried Dumpling Filled with Meat $12 HK

The next item to arrive was the deep fried dumplings filled with meat.  These are typically one of my least favorite things in dim sum as the gooey texture of the glutinous rice dumpling inside always makes me think it is undercooked and I will get sick (I’ve had several terrible bouts with food poisoning and I’m allergic to the medicines used to treat it, so perhaps I am a wee bit paranoid at times!)  I decided to give these a go and they were much better than others I have tried.  The dumpling still had the glutinous texture inside, but it was not a mouthful of goo.  The meat inside was fairly sweet, similar to the char siu.  Surprisingly, this ended up being one of my favorite dishes!

Deep Fried Dumplings Filled with Meat

Inside of the Deep Fried Dumplings

Rice Roll Stuffed with Pig Liver $15 HK

Tim Ho Wan offers four different varieties of rice rolls — bbq pork, shrimp, beef, and the good ol’ pig liver.  Now, I am not a liver fan, but give me anything with foie gras or a pate and I am in heaven.  I’ve even survived several rounds with monkfish liver pate, but something about liver itself makes me gag.  I tried it and well, it was exactly what I was expecting.  Much too strong of a flavor for me, but this is one of the highly recommended dishes so give it at shot and make up your mind.  For less than $2 US, there is not much risk!

Rice Roll Stuffed with Pig Liver

Sadly, we had already arrived at the end of our dim sum dishes.  We saw a number of tables ordering other dishes that seemed to be quite popular, but we were pretty full.  Other popular items included the Steamed BeefBall with Bean Curd Skin ($12 HK), Steamed Chicken Feet with Black Bean Sauce ($12 HK), Pan-Fried Turnip Cake with Pan-Fried Turnip ($10 HK), and Chicken and Pork Wrapped with Dry Bean Curd ($16 HK).

We did order dessert which notes on the menu can take 20 minutes so be prepared.  All desserts were $10K each.  We tried the hot Sweet Chestnut and Pumpkin Cream which was amazing!  There were chunks of chestnuts and the pumpkin had a slight natural sweetness.  I love Chinese desserts as they are not sweet like American ones often are so I feel less guilty about ordering them.  This was a pretty large portion so definitely wise to split one between two people if you can.  While I definitely enjoyed the Chestnut and Pumpkin Cream, it seemed the most popular item ordered was the Steamed Egg Cake that was not on the dessert menu.  Another option was Tonic Medlar and Petal Cake, which is Osmanthus Jelly.  There was also one last option for dessert — the Double Boiled Pear Soup with Snow Fungus.  These probably would’ve been excellent choices as well, but we need to save something to try on our next visit! :-)

Pumpkin and Chestnut Cream Dessert

Tim Ho Wan Address:

Shop 8, 2-20 Kwong Wa Street, Mongkok

Telephone: 852 2332 2896

Open 10am – 10pm

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