In a city where showmanship and décor are sometimes given more weight than taste and technique, it’s refreshing to find a restaurant that moves with a quiet confidence, resting solely on the palatability of the food to highlight the talent of a specific chef, cooking method and technique. At newly opened The Chin’s, elegance and comfort are bred into the restaurant instead of forced upon it, servers glide quietly and dining room theatrics are kept sparse, making for a natural, comfortable arena to focus on the very worthwhile cooking from head chef Ringo Chow.
Step into The Chin’s from the unassuming entrance on Stanley Street and there’s an immediate calm and splendour that pervades the space, giving diners respite from the noisy street outside. This feeling of shelter and exclusivity — despite the entrance doors remaining wide open to the street during our meal — can be credited to the smart design by MaS Studio Ltd. A calming, ocean-like palate of teal, turquoise and green is the main colour motif, mixed with warm wood textures and marble and brass detailing for contrast.
A plush carpet and suede, high-backed chairs allow you to enjoy a meal comfortably — not something we can say for every new “it” restaurant in town — while attentive but relaxed service means you can easily stretch a meal out to two or three hours in the presence of good company. An expensive taste in décor is evident here, from the glass-covered wine cellar along one wall down to the fine china and silverware. (Needless to say, that trickles down to the high prices on the menu.) On the right-hand side of the restaurant lies five private rooms, accommodating from six to 16 people.
Food and Drink
We’d recommend starting with one of the chef’s premium specialties, such as the deep-fried taro croquette with abalone and caviar (HK$98 per serving), or the steamed fresh crab claw with winter melon (HK$320). We began with the latter and were treated to a meaty, de-shelled crab claw sitting on a circular slab of pale-white winter melon. The crabmeat was sweet and succulent, pairing well with the subtle vegetable.
Next came the marinated pigeon with Huadiao wine (HK$180), splayed out in a butterfly shape in a golden-hued pool of fermented wine. Standard recipes call for the pigeon to be marinated directly in the wine; chef Ringo Chow takes a different approach here by fermenting the wine (25-year-old Huadiao wine and Chinese rose wine) separately, while marinating the pigeon for two days in a Chiu Chow brine. The components are plated together right before serving, so as not to affect the texture and taste of the bird. With the moist, rich flavour of the meat and heady fragrance of the wine, it’s one of the best items on the menu in terms of both taste and presentation.
The barbecued Kagoshima Chami pork (HK$280) is also brilliantly executed. The kurobuta pork from the Kagoshima district of Japan — the cream of the crop of premium pork breeds — offers rich marbling and a tender, sweet flavour elevated by a sweet and sticky glaze. In The Chin’s version, the slices come thick and glistening with fat, without being sickeningly sweet or overly rich. Nailing this perfect balance, The Chin’s could go head-to-head with some of the best cha siu in town.
Of the appetisers we tried, the only disappointment was the soft-boiled duck egg with caviar. While there’s nothing to dislike specifically about the combination of eggs and caviar, the caviar itself lacks the salty, ocean-like pop we associate with good sturgeon and does little to enhance the dish — or to justify its price tag (HK$220 for two egg halves).
The dried seafood section is an homage to the so-called ‘Four Treasures’ of Chinese cuisine –abalone, fish maw, sea cucumber and shark’s fin — ingredients that chef Chow has kept within arm’s reach in his kitchen throughout 30-plus years at top Chinese fine dining establishments. His offerings showcase a broad range of techniques and preparations to honour these prized ingredients.
Meanwhile, cooked-seafood offerings include dishes such as wok-fried crystal king prawns, baked crab shell stuffed with crabmeat and onion, and wok-fried lobster in Sichuan chilli sauce; while meats showcase everything from diced wagyu beef to double-boiled beef brisket, and wok-fried minced quail to roasted pigeon. We were impressed by the stewed oxtail in a rich tomato sauce (HK$320), with the addition of red dates and longan adding a welcome bit of sweetness and herbal undertones to the otherwise heavy stew.
The simmered bean curd in matsutake sauce (HK$80 per serving) deserves its own award for aesthetics, with the tofu meticulously sliced into silky slivers from a single block and arranged to resemble a sea anemone in the bowl, tendrils waving lazily in a bowl of matsutake mushroom-infused broth. It’s hard not to commend the chef on the exemplary knife work and dedication that goes into this dish. We ate it slowly, savouring the light, fragrant soup and soft textures of the tofu. It was the palate-cleanser we needed before dessert — a well-balanced mango-sago pudding and a floral, rose-petal-shaped jelly.
Not only is the food top-notch at The Chin’s, but there is a wide-ranging wine list of over 140 labels of Champagnes, reds and whites to pair with chef Chow’s creations. It’s always a challenge to nail both presentation and taste, but the dishes here check both boxes confidently, with beautiful plates foretelling the exacting, well-balanced flavours brought out in chef Chow’s interpretation of top-shelf ingredients. Dinner with wine can easily exceed $1,000 per person, but there is also a set lunch option for HK$380 (minimum two people) where diners can try five signature dishes, including a chef’s selection of dim sum.
Opening Hours: Mon–Sun noon–3pm, 6–10pm
Recommended Dishes: Barbecued Kagoshima Chami pork, marinated pigeon, braised abalone, steamed crab claw with winter melon, bean curd in matsutake sauce, deep-fried taro croquette with abalone and caviar.
Price: HK$100–$300 appetisers; HK$250–$550 mains; HK$1,000+ specialty ‘Four Treasures’ ingredients.
Noise Level: Quiet
Service: Professional, knowledgeable about dishes and wine list.
The Chin’s, G/F, 13 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2595 0808, thechinshk.com