Restaurant: Lung King Heen Restaurant 龍景軒 (Part 1/3)
Cuisine: Chinese/Dim Sum/Seafood
Last visited: October 1, 2012
Location: Central, Hong Kong (SoHo/Hollywood)
Address: Podium 4, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street
Phone: +(852) 3196-8880
Transit: Central Staion
Price Range: $400HKD/person (about $50USD) – $700+ HKD/person (about $100USD+)
Tasting menu: $1080HKD/person (about $135USD)
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
Food: 5 (based on what I tried)
- Executive Chef Chan Yan Tak
- Cantonese fine dining
- Specializes in seafood
- 3 Michelin Star
- First Chinese Chef to receive 3 stars
- Multiple award winning
- Outstanding view
- Private dining rooms
- Week day & end dim sum
- Chef’s Tasting Menu
- Smart casual
- Children must be 3+
- Lunch Sundays and public holidays 11:30 am – 3:00 pm
- Monday to Saturday lunch 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm
- Monday to Sunday dinner 6:00 pm – 10:30 pm
- See – Lung King Heen Restaurant – Part 2/3
- See – Lung King Heen Restaurant – Part 3/3
**Recommendations: The World’s 50 Best Restaurant names it as #59 in 2010 and recommends the: Sea urchin in lobster jelly topped with cauliflower cream, the crispy langoustine papillote with basil, and the free-range quail with foie gras, served with mashed potato. Other suggestions are: Truffle dumpling king, Thousand Year Egg Grouper Rice Rolls, Barbecued Pork with Honey and Crispy Scallop with Fresh Pear, Abalone Noodles, Lung King Heen Combination (Crispy Taro Dumpling with Sea Whelk in Portuguese Sauce)
It was Follow Me Foodie to Hong Kong – Part 2 and I was feeling slightly uninspired by the food scene. Either I was hitting up the wrong places or just spoiled from Vancouver’s Chinese food scene. I know that sounds ridiculous that being in the hub for Cantonese cuisine would lead to let downs for it, but it was happening. It is often said that Vancouver, and specifically Richmond, has the best Chinese food outside of China and I’ve heard Hong Kong locals agree and disagree with the statement. I think it depends on what you’re looking for, but generally Vancouver has a very high standard for Chinese cuisine. I also find there are more hit and miss restaurants in Hong Kong, but this meal I had at Lung King Heen Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel left a lasting impression.
Hong Kong is a very international, touristy, flashy and business driven city and every big name hotel chain can be found there. The Four Seasons is highly regarded in Asia and it houses some of Asia’s most luxurious fine dining restaurants. The Four Seasons in Hong Kong is the only hotel restaurant in the world to have two 3 Michelin Star restaurants – French restaurant Caprice and Chinese restaurant Lung King Heen. I was invited to try their highly acclaimed restaurant Lung King Heen and there are no expectations for the outcome of this post. I also had the pleasure of trying The Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan.
Lung King Heen means “view of the dragon” and it was the first Chinese restaurant to ever receive 3 Michelin Stars. The Executive Chef, Chan Yan Tak, is also the only Chinese chef to be awarded three stars making this a local and tourist dining destination.
The floor to ceiling windows of the restaurant overlook the vibrant skylines of Hong Kong, so ambiance is an effortless sell. The dining room is open and the clientèle mixed and it’s a place to get dressed up for, but it does not feel pretentious or even that showy. With a view like this I don’t think it has to try too hard, although there are more fine dining restaurants in Hong Kong featuring a view just like this. In a city that is competitive beyond its restaurant scene there are many options to impress a guest, but if your guest appreciates high quality Chinese food in a modern context that is not over the top, then I would highly recommend Lung King Heen Restaurant.
It was an honour to meet Chef Chan and I valued his talent more so than the beautiful view. He started his culinary career at thirteen and is one of Hong Kong’s most highly demanded chefs. His whole career has been based in Hong Kong so he knows the Chinese restaurant scene and has seen it evolve.
I had the Chef’s Tasting Menu and a few of his recommendations from the regular menu which is quite extensive. The tasting menu is about 8 courses (I added a few extra), but it is well portioned and paced. With such a large menu some dishes stood out above others. I found the Tasting Menu to be a bit safe, so I preferred a la carte which means knowing what to order, but this can be hard for a new customer. Be prepared that it is also quite pricey, but for a top restaurant in a top hotel chain in Hong Kong it is not too shocking especially with its many accolades and awards.
The menu and flavours were approachable and the quality of ingredients were impressive and treated well. It used traditional techniques and familiar flavours with modern and clean presentation. It was the first Chinese restaurant I’ve liked where almost every course was served with a knife and fork rather than chopsticks. Here, it was not insulting, but just part of the style and how the food was meant to be eaten and enjoyed.
I’ve written about the complexities of Chinese food and cooking here, but this menu was driven by flavour and more specifically ingredient. I valued that aspect because the variety, quality and species of seafood and proteins I had were rare to come across back at home in Vancouver. Therefore it made the dinner more special, but for a local they might experience it differently and have more to compare to.
It had just enough creativity to make it stand out, but not enough to make it far fetched from its original dish or Chinese Cantonese origins. There were classic items and some innovative courses which have apparently been imitated by other restaurants. The food is traditional Cantonese and so are Chef Chan’s cooking techniques, but how it was delivered was not. Some of the dishes were exceptional and unlike other versions of it I’ve had globally.
Generally the menu was straight forward with no real surprises, but that’s what classic Chinese cooking is about. His cooking style was rather simple and subtle without being under seasoned and there was a consistency with every course that came with rehearsed and experienced recipes. I was impressed with Chef’s recommendations, however my fine dining experience with Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong is limited so I can’t say where this one stands.
A 3 Michelin Star restaurant really sets one up for expectations. I have been to 3 Michelin Star restaurants, but not a Chinese one so I have nothing to compare to. That being said, there are not many. The guide is usually accurate when it comes to European, American and even Japanese cuisine, but I am not sure about Chinese or the other cuisines. If this is the benchmark for a 3 Michelin Star Chinese restaurant I would say it sets a very high standard, but with all due respect one that is also achievable by others. Nonetheless this was still one of my restaurant highlights from my Follow Me Foodie travels last year let alone dining experiences in Follow Me Foodie to Hong Kong – Part 2.
On the table:
2011 Joseph Mellot Père et Fils Sancerre La Chatellenie, Loire, France – It is actually produced in Sancerre, one of the renowned wine regions in Loire, France. It was refreshing with notes of lime and an obvious minerality and it worked really well with seafood.
- I’ve never been to a Chinese restaurant where I was served an amuse bouche.
- This was his signature Crispy Scallop with Fresh Pear which can also be ordered a la carte.
- The thought of deep frying a beautiful scallop instead of giving it a crispy sear would usually make me cry, but here it worked.
- This was modern Chinese done right and based on this one bite I would order it a la carte.
- It was very lightly battered with flour and fried until it formed a light and crispy shell around the scallop.
- On top of the tender and sweet scallop was a thin slice of fresh pear which I thought was a water chestnut.
- There was also a layer of prawn purée possibly acting as a “glue” for the pear, so it had a few textures and flavours.
- I’m not sure if the pear was intended to be crunchy and it kind of lost its flavour, but it did add texture.
- The flavour of the scallop was not lost and I have no idea how nothing was overcooked or undercooked.
- Each ingredient has a different cooking time so I’m surprised it worked as well as it did.
The XO sauce is a spicy seafood chili sauce invented in Hong Kong and it is only offered at high end Chinese restaurants. Restaurants and chefs take pride in their own unique XO sauce recipe and I was eating this by the spoonful, although I always do that even at Chinese restaurants at home. This was the first vegetarian XO sauce I’ve ever had and I was surprised they didn’t offer a meat option.
The vegetarian XO sauce was made the same, but instead of using dried scallops and shrimp like the original recipe, it got its umami from minced pickled radish, fermented salted soy beans and minced firm bean curd. Those ingredients are non traditional to XO sauce, but together they imitated the savoury umami achieved by dried seafood. It was a potent and pungent spicy and tangy sauce that packed a lot of flavour and it is not hot, but well rounded in spice. I missed the dried shrimp and scallops which are delicacies in the original recipe, but for a vegetarian XO sauce this was good.
- Crispy Suckling Pig, Barbecued Pork with Honey, Roast Squab with Plum Sauce
- I still remember this dish and it certainly raised my standards for BBQ meats.
- I’ve had countless versions of each item and I wasn’t expecting anything mind blowing, but I almost kicked the table.
- Barbeque Pork with Honey – 6/6 (FMF Must Try!)
- This was my favourite of the three and I didn’t expect it to be.
- It was actually the best one I’ve had to date and I hate saying “best” anything.
- I’ve tried the favourites in Metro Vancouver (eg: HK BBQ Master), but this just raised the bar and made everything else I’ve had these years just seem okay.
- The pork melted in my mouth like tofu and it was so tender that I barely had to chew it, yet it still had structure and kept its shape.
- It was not too sweet with honey or that bright red with dye and I could taste a bit of ginger in the marinade.
- It was very fatty but not overly so, and the fat was creamy and not chewy at all.
- The meat was so tenderized that I thought it was braised or sous vide instead of barbequed.
- The meat fibers were loose and it was good quality pork that was cut properly.
- Crispy Suckling Pig (centre) – 5/6 (Excellent)
- The pig skin was crunchy and the fat underneath very well rendered so the whole thing was just skin.
- The skin was separated and caramelized like candy.
- There was a thin slice of fried mantou bun, a bit of sweet and savoury hoisin sauce, and a piece of moist fatty pork as the base.
- It was almost like a Peking Duck wrap, but instead made with the Suckling Pig which was the first time I’ve had it like this.
- Crispy Pigeon (Squab) – 4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)
- Squab is naturally a bit drier because it is such a lean meat, but this one was moist and tender.
- The skin was very crispy, but the fat was not as well rendered so I could taste the layer of fat underneath and it was a bit chewy.
- The fat was a bit thicker and it was very juicy, but just a bit much and I almost thought it was duck.
- $170HKD/person, about $22CAD
- After this, a crab cake will never be the same again!
- This is one of chef’s innovative signature dishes.
- It was the head of a small crab stuffed with crab meat, crusted in panko crumbs and deep fried until golden brown.
- It was mouthfuls of super creamy and saucy melt in your mouth crab.
- The fresh crab was naturally sweet and it was mixed in a sauce that tasted like the garlic cream sauce often served with noodles underneath crab or lobster.
- There were also spring onions mixed with the crab to give it aromatics and they were so finely shredded and combined with the crab meat.
- The crab flavour was infused into the sauce and it was likely made with crab tomalley.
- It was very simple and the sauce never overpowered the delicate flaky crab meat.
- The finely shredded raw scallions on the side were impressively cut by hand and helped cut the richness of the stuffed crab.
- $130HKD/person, about $16.80CAD/person
- This is another original appetizer and chef’s recommendation.
- I can’t find this easily back at home so I really valued this, but there are many restaurants in Hong Kong that offer this modern and luxurious appetizer.
- Sea Whelk is a type of sea snail and it tastes like a snail meets a clam and has the same sort of texture.
- It was a very rich appetizer like the stuffed crab, but also incomparable and this one had stronger flavours.
- The sea whelk was minced with ground pork, abalone, onion, perhaps shiitake mushrooms and maybe even water chestnuts for crunch.
- It was a delicious stuffing in a creamy rich Chinese “Portuguese sauce” which tasted like a bechamel sauce made with crab tomalley and curry powder.
- This Portuguese sauce is quite typical in Chinese cooking.
- The stuffing had a crispy gratin crust that tasted almost cheesy and I couldn’t taste the abalone, but I got its texture.
- Abalone is a Chinese delicacy so I didn’t expect much of it, but for the price I wouldn’t have minded more.
- I could taste a bit of Worcestershire sauce and it’s not spicy, but just wonderfully savoury.
- It was almost like the Baked Portuguese Fried Rice course one would get at an Alaskan King Crab dinner, but way better.