In our latest genre-specific dining guide of 2020, we tackle the challenging task of picking Hong Kong’s ‘best’ Chinese restaurants.
In a vacuum, adjectives like ‘best’ can come off pretty nebulous. Case in point: Chinese restaurants. In Hong Kong no less. The fragrant harbour has long been regarded as one of the epicentres of fine Sino-centric cookery, attracting the best chefs from across Greater China to its shores. Discerning diners probably see our dilemma: given that Chinese cuisine is divided (at bare minimum) into eight regional traditions, how do we settle on a comprehensive definition for what constitutes Hong Kong’s ‘best’?
Rather than engaging in a fruitless comparison of superlative Hokkien, Jiangnan, Sichuanese and so on, we’ve narrowed this guide down 8 essential destinations for fine Canto-fare. In that spirit, you can expect premium ingredients, critical acclaim, often luscious interiors and a price tag to match. Whether you’re greasing the wheels of commerce, celebrating a personal milestone or are simply in need of an epic feed, these are the hallowed tables where all that (and more) is guaranteed to happen.
A firm favourite of ours here at the Lifestyle Asia office, Kin’s Kitchen is a long running collaboration between messrs Lau Kin-Wai and Lau Chun — two highly respected local food writers, who also happen to be father and son. At Kin’s, their perennial mission has been the preservation of historically significant Cantonese cooking techniques, backed by ingredients that are farmed using Locavorian practices. No matter whether you’re here for your first or fiftieth visit, the smoked soy sauce chicken — succulent, sweet, and just the right degree of fatty — is always a treat.
Located amidst the glittering premises of Four Seasons at ifc, Lung King Heen (roughly translated as ‘Dragon’s View’) is a legendary temple to Cantonese fine dining that boasts a number of world’s firsts. This primus inter pares initially broke ground by becoming the first ever Chinese venue to win three Michelin stars, and has retained that status for a whopping 12 years. Complemented by one of the swankiest wine lists in Hong Kong, the specialty here is classic banquet fare dialled up to 100. There’s plenty of dynamism to tableside preparations like the signature Peking duck, yet even dishes of modest appearance — wok-tossed wagyu served with a simple accompaniment of morels — find a way to surmount your expectations. Bookings are essential.
Like a few of its hotel-based contemporaries that made our list, Ming Court doesn’t do anything you’d consider to be especially novel. And frankly, who cares? The ever-popular Cantonese restaurant, located inside Cordis Hong Kong, combines two of the local dining scene’s chief loves — superlative seafood and ritzy interiors. Diners partake in dishes like drunken prawn and ‘Eight Treasure’ soup in a setting (as the name would suggest) that’s redolent of an imperial pavilion. Albeit one with an excellent on-site bar for aperitifs.
Named for the youngest sibling of the clan behind Fook Lam Moon, Seventh Son looks (at face value) to be your run-of-the-mill Cantonese zaulau. (There’s the usual gold livery, breakout banqueting space and what appears to be very high-maintenance carpeting). But, as good students of Chinese cuisine well know, looks aren’t everything. All of the dishes attain the gold standard of traditional Cantonese cuisine, though the restaurant is renowned for its porcine fare. We strongly suggest that you call ahead and preorder the whole suckling pig.
As you’re wont to expect from a restaurant in the Peninsula, Spring Moon serves as an elegant, thoroughly delicious reminder of a bygone era. The main dining room is set over two levels, and with its indoor atrium and stained glass windows is a clear evocation of a Shanghainese manor during the 1920s. Dinner here is splendid, but seasoned gourmands usually know to stop by at lunchtime: keen to sample addictive morsels by Chef Lam such as barbequed pork puff and a gossamer-skinned dumpling made of pork and Sicilian shrimp.
Tucked at the corner of Gough Street and Kau U Fong, The Chairman is a favourite amongst Cantonese cuisine obsessives throughout East Asia. Opened by Danny Yip in 2009 — a veteran restaurateur who previously owned venues in Canberra — The Chairman has been, from the offing, a place where authenticity is king. Intent on safeguarding the culinary traditions of Hong Kong (and to a lesser extent, the whole Guangdong diaspora) for generations to come, Yip and executive chef Kwok Keung Tung have gone to great lengths to source only the best ingredients up to the task: seafood is purchased daily from Aberdeen Fish Market, sauces and preserves (integral in Cantonese cooking) are made solely in-house; and the restaurant has invested heavily in a small farm in the New Territories which supplies it with locally grown organic veg. Recently awarded 11th place on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 list, we recommend making a reservation even two to three months ahead of schedule.
Whereas the majority of Hong Kong establishments specialising in fine Cantonese lean on high-rise spaces which are as elevated as their menus, Yan Toh Heen does things a little differently. The Michelin-starred hideaway is located on the lower levels of the InterContinental, and is composed of a series of intersecting spaces made to resemble a traditional jade jewellery box. Chef Lau Yiu Fai (who has been with the restaurant since its inception) doesn’t mess around, opting for authentic, sensical preparations like whole crab meat stuffed shell which let the raw ingredients do the talking.
Don’t let Yat Tung Heen’s windowless, subterranean dining space discourage you. Since 1990, the restaurant has been winning over the denizens of Jordan and Yau Ma Tei with a menu of consistently excellent home-style Cantonese food. You won’t find any gimmicks here: just best-in-class renditions of classic dishes like almond pork lung soup and char siu that’s good enough to warrant a trip across the harbour. We always encourage you to dine with a big party, if for no other reason than to ameliorate the cost of the restaurant’s whole ‘golden fried’ chicken — a satisfying alternative to the more predictable option of Peking duck.