Thursday, January 29, 2015

Yan Toh Heen ( III ) - Always One of the Most Pioneering Cantonese Restaurants

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I honestly can’t recall how many times I have been to Yan Toh Heen but it’s been quite a few times for sure before my Instagram days,  and I tend to write about it only when I couldn’t cope with not sharing the food photos anymore bursting at the rim.    Same applies with equally Michelin 2* rated Sun Tung Lok,  which I have been a few times and counting back on the 50+ odd dishes,  really puts me off writing about it as yet not even for once,  especially when one time we had the $4000+ course with Abalone as an experiment.   Since almost decades ago beginning I still remember eating here at Yan Toh Heen and back when it was still named Regent,   with the  Japanese Ginza Restaurant being the talk of the town within the same hotel complex as mentioned before.   How things have really changed over the decades.   As per my previous review of Yan Toh Heen combined into one,   finally this Institution is a correct recipient of their well deserved 2* valuation:  http://www.hkepicurus.com/2013/02/yan-toh-heen-hong-kong.html

 

 

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The more recently Renovated Look -
I actually liked the previous look better,  but who cares about my opinion..

 

 

 

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Toasted Honey Walnuts with Sesame -
This is the BEST version in Hong Kong.  A lot of places give you stale versions.   TST Hyatt’s The Chinese restaurant also makes a decent one too to be fair.








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Many Types of Sauces and Condiments -
The yellow chili one really had an unexpected kick !  The Soy Sauce was also very complicated in taste.  Surprisingly tonight had no X.O. sauce present,  which I really like as it carries a lemon grass taste somewhat…








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Canape – Beancurd Roll with Julienned Vegetables
This is surely inspired by a Shanghainese appetizer dish,  I liked it but somehow wished it was smoky on the outside.   ~ 7.5/10








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Crab Carapace filled with Crab Meat with a Panko Crust -
The version here has always been one of the Top,  if not the best tasting version in Hong Kong.  Surprisingly many places muck this up by having too much thickly sliced raw onions,  too much mushrooms,  sauce  too creamy,  or just a lack of fresh crab meat taste or overly shredded.   Tonight’s version was still great but it had a more potent raw onion taste than before,  as pointed out by one of our dining friends with a very delicate, discernible palate.   Well she is definitely qualified to say so as a Perfectionist Chef and Teacher herself.    ~ 8/10


 

 

 

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Australian Wagyu Beef with Seared Foie Gras,  served with a Fried Man Tou bread -
Beef and Gras were both diced very thickly at 2cm+ each side.   The Beef was cooked to medium-rare inside with a certain pinkness -  very appreciated because almost all Cantonese restaurants cook the wagyu until grey inside.  The wagyu had a good beefiness,  but the foie gras was the highlight because it had a lovely livery flavour and for Cantonese Cuisine,  this actually rivalled a French version for once.   The fried bread was a smart idea too.  ~ 9.5/10








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Buddha’s Hat -  Beancurd Sheet covering a Myriad of Chinese Vegetables Underneath
This is one of my favourite dishes,  and the one here was delicately done with fine vegetables, moss,  vermicelli and a nicely tuned sauce.   Vegetarian dishes can’t get any more finer than this.   ~ 8/10








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Crispy Skin Fresh Local Chicken,  with Breaded Yunnan Ham on Prawn Crackers (Half) -
I have had this here numerous times and I personally even think it’s one of their Signature Dishes.   WOW!!!  This time was the best I have ever had it!!   The skin was crystalline crispy and wafer thin,  the slight yellow oily layer below the skin contributed to the taste but not being offensive,  the chicken meat had a great chicken flavour which lingered in the mouth.   We were talking business all night and eating fairly slowly.  30 minutes later,  I took another piece and the skin was still as crispy as my 1st piece!  Totally sensational.  Add on top of that the fried Yunnan Ham,  which is obviously previously soaked in honey and equally elegant balanced but not too dense.   This was probably the Dish of The Year for me by the end of 2014.   ~ 15/10







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Fried Rice,  Steamed in Lotus Leaf -
Again a dish I had here many times,  surprisingly this was the first time I noticed the rice had a really lovable bitey texture to it.  Not sure if they changed the mix of rice ratios?   This was good and filled with diced meats and seafood.   So correctly executed.   If I was being critical there wasn’t a lot of lotus leaf aroma,  but then again,  I can’t even recall even 1 other shop which can achieve that.  (Although I do remember experiencing that in the past somewhere).   ~ 8/10








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Abalone and Mushrooms E Fu Noodles -
The 3 people on the table were polarized.  Some think it is nothing too special.  One commented on whether the noodles are even house made.  From my personal angle,   I think the Abalone could have more braising liquid taste.   The noodles were fine by itself but not really E Fu Noodles but thick nodles to me,  the sauce was utterly balanced.  May be because it was so balanced it needed more character -  like some Fried Flounder floss or Prawn Roes or some shaved Taiwanese Bottarga or something to that effect?   ~ 7/10








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Seafood Fried Rice in a Dolsot Stone Pot -
Anything served in a Stone Pot here at Yan Toh Heen is always good,  just like the above Wagyu Beef dish and the other dishes I tried before!   This was actually a wetter version of fried rice today,  and it deferred from the same or similar rice dish I tried here before.   Opinions are always divided – I personally know that Fried Rice has a few forms,  either with Wok Chi ‘fire breath’ like in a Dai Pai Dong,  or an elegant Wok Chi when the flame lick can be barely registered like how most hotels serve it with subtleness.   This version seemed fried with eggs then somehow soaked back with a stock,  much like Fujian Fried Rice.   Not everyone liked this on the table but I absolutely adored this dish myself and especially with the pickles like condiments above.   ~ 10/10

 

 

 

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Mango,  Pomelo and Sago Dessert Soup -
This is always theatrical when it arrives with the smoky Dry-Ice!   I have had this many many times too and it was one of the best versions in HK no doubt.  This time however,  the base soup was very mango pureed and unlike all the other times I experienced it.   It was still great mind you,  but I think it’s overly mango-y now and could do with more milkiness for balance.   ~ 7.5/10






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Oolong Ice Cream,  Almond Pudding,  with Hungarian Tokaji Sorbet,  Fruits -
The Menu description didn’t really described this,  but when it arrived on the table we began scooping at first but started almost fighting for it at the end!   The oolong tea ice cream was so good,   but it was the fairly strong and alcoholic Tokaji sweet wine sorbet on top which surely elevated this dessert to another culinary level !   Absolutely adorable and it tasted more than what the menu says for once but still utterly balanced overall. ~ 10/10

 

 

 

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Chinese Petits Fours -
They have always presented this prettily presented tray of Sweet Chinese Dim Sums at the end of the meal as a service,  it is ever so thoughtful and almost French-esque in concept,  but who’s to say it wasn’t the other way around?   Because in Chinese Emperial cuisine,  they also expect a nice finish to a grand meal.   They even had an Apple Crumble tart here within the Chinese pastries..    Michelin 2 Stars totally deserved and thanks to Yan Toh Heen for being one of the most original institutions in Hong Kong,  but always re-inventing itself and pioneering the HK Cantonese food scene.        

 



 

 

 

Price:   Lunch $600 + 10%
Ease of Access:   4/5  (Walk 7-8 minutes from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station.)
Food:   ♕♕♕♕1/2 ~ ♕♕♕♕♕1/2

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sun -  12:00pm - 14:30pm,  18:00pm - 23:00pm

Address: 尖沙咀梳士巴利道18號香港洲際酒店地下
G/F, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Ph: 2313 2323 / 2721 1211

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