View of the Dragon - Lunch at the world's first 3 Michelin-star Chinese Restaurant
When I think of Chinese food, the thought of fine dining hardly crosses my mind. Let alone Michelin star cuisine... As many Western cities are filled with takeout places dishing up a variety of often greasy meals all in the name of Chinese fare, it would be difficult for most to imagine that a restaurant epitomizing the pinnacle of fine Cantonese cooking even exists.
Well, I am glad to say that it does! And you can find it in Asia's food capital, Hong Kong. Not only is Lung King Heen one of the most lauded eateries in the world, it also happens to be the first Chinese restaurant to gain the coveted three Michelin-star rating.
Located within the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel in Central Hong Kong, it overlooks the mountainous Kowloon peninsula - hence the name "View of the Dragon". Its sophisticated Eastern inspired interior creates an elegant and inviting atmosphere, with a palette of deep hues and rich finishes that complete the chic yet understated design.
The menu boasts a myriad of traditional flavours, interesting textures and intricate tastes, making it near impossible to choose. Luckily the staff are knowledgeable and patient in explaining every aspect to those with a somewhat hesitant Western palate...
I settled for the 5 course executive lunch from their popular (and very affordable) set menu. Starting off with the chef's selection of dim sum - proclaimed to be some of the best on the planet. These delightful little pieces were steamed to perfection, with a glistening exterior hiding a flavorful surprise inside. I was not let down!
Next I had chicken and mushroom spring rolls which were ultra crispy and perfectly golden on the outside. These beauties were stuffed with delicious fresh ingredients, turning this often unadventurous appetizer into a scrumptious work of art.
The barbecue combination of pork with honey, poached chicken and marinated jellyfish arrived as a trio of bitesized portions. Not only were they visually stunning, the contrast of each mouthful also highlighted chef Chan Yan Tak's inventive culinary technique that successfully enhancied their different flavours. For me, the jellyfish was a first, and I really liked it. A strange, somewhat chewy texture took my tastebuds on a curious journey to a place they've never been before...
The 4th course was sautéed prawns with scallions in a spicy sauce. This mouthwatering dish's fresh and crunchy onion combined faultlessly with the succulent seafood and punchy sauce, gently coaxing my palate into another taste dimension.
To follow I chose the shrimp and vegetable dumplings with noodles in soup. The perfect wontons were swimming in a clear, flavorful broth complimented by crunchy green vegetables and the finest noodles I've every eaten.
For good measure (and appetite) I also ordered the wok fried chicken fillet with chili and onions, accompanied by noodles. This common dish is something I usually order from a takeaway, and I was curious to compare. Needless to say, the lightness and perfect balance of flavours in this superbly cooked version was unsurpassable. Just as I thought...
My choice for dessert was sweetened purple potato cream with pumpkin, and I also tried the chilled mango and sago cream with pomelo. Both were very different to any conventional end-of-meal sweets I've had. Served in liquid form and eaten like a "soup", these unique treats were the ideal surprise ending to my excellent meal.
If you're in Hong Kong and you appreciate fine cuisine, you simply have to dine at Lung King Heen, as the most extraordinary Cantonese culinary journey awaits...
* Banner image courtesy of © Four Seasons, Photographer: Markus Gortz
All opinions and photos are my own © Traverate