For many in the restaurant biz, landing a Michelin ranking is the ultimate triumph. It lifts the red velvet rope and ushers a restaurateur into the vaunted club of Per Se and Eleven Madison Park. It can also springboard a chef into a full-blown celebrity. We continue the journey from Part 1, where we explored the seasonal cuisine to the classic Cantonese fare.
Prior to winning three Michelin stars, Chan had barely heard of the guide. “We didn’t know that it was something awesome. We had no knowledge,” he recalls. “When we first learned about it, our manager got so happy he teared up. You could see all the tears—happy tears.” As for Chan: “I just kept doing my job.”
That modesty is typical of the Chinese food world, where there’s a big difference between the gourmets (culinary scholars who propose recipes) and the cooks (the guys who actually execute those recipes). The latter are typically uneducated and looked down upon as mere mechanics.
A Taste of Traditional Canton
This is Chef Chan’s interpretation of the classic Cantonese dishes in banquets made for a single serve. The typical, expensive ingredients like suckling pig, sea cucumber, dried abalone, conpoy (dried scallops), etc are given a modern update but still steeped in traditional Cantonese culinary techniques.
1/ 片皮乳豬件 crispy suckling pig with Chinese pancake
At the crack of dawn, Chef Leung Ming-chiu, head barbecue chef, and his team are down in the pit handling sticky slabs of honey-roasted pork and turning spit-mounted piglets above a furnace of 100 degrees. The resulting crispy suckling pig was so excellent you can feel the crunch with every bite, yet the fats under the skin would not get stuck between your teeth. Served with a thin pancake and hoisin sauce, it is definitely a great start to the journey through Cantonese classics.
2/ 炸釀鮮蟹蓋 deep-fried crab shell stuffed with onions and fresh crab meat
The crust was a beautiful golden brown in colour, with a generous filling. The crab meat was seasoned perfectly with the delicate taste highlighted, supplemented by the thinly shredded onion. On the side was a piece of parsley with some edible flowers and gold flake. Another combining an authentic Cantonese dish with a modern twist, it is one of my favorites for this dinner.
3/羊肚菌菜胆燉遼參 double-boiled sea cucumber with morel mushrooms and brassica
This is a new additional to the menu, it is rare that they do a double-boiled soup. Morel mushrooms have a very distinct flavour that give the soup a hardy and woody tone to the bland sea cucumber. The main flavour comes from the chicken stock used for the double-boil. Solid soup, but not explosive like the rest of the courses.
4/ 鮮百合蓮子炒澳洲特級和牛柳粒 sautéed superior Australian wagyu beef with fresh lily bulbs and lotus seeds
Upon the first bite I could detect the vegetables were cooked under the traditional high-heat stir-frying technique, well-cooked while retaining the moisture inside. The beef cubes were seared before mixing with the vegetable, having a crisp surface and juicy interior. However I found the seasoning of the beef was a bit salty and because the veggie were all light in flavors it was even more pronounced.
5/ 蠔皇禾麻飽三十頭拼玉環瑤柱甫 braised 30 heads Oma abalone with convoy in radish
The spotlight was on the abalone, which was perfectly braised and could be cut easily with the knife. And putting it in the mouth it created an explosion of intense flavors. Honestly it was a while since I had tasted such nice abalone and it was a testament to the quality of the ingredient here.
6/ 白舞茸竹笙扒時蔬 braised seasonal vegetables with Maitake mushrooms and bamboo piths
It was again nicely done, with the mushroom and bamboo piths braised with the supreme stock to infuse with great flavors. The Australian baby spinach was tender and bright green in colour, cooked just right and performing a seamless transition for the dishes to the final two courses.
7/ 龍景軒炒飯 Lung King Heen fried rice with assorted seafood
The true test of fried rice is when every grain is separate, still covered with flavour, not overly oily and abounding with wok hei. Lung King Heen fried rice with assorted seafood is seemingly simple yet brilliantly executed. There was lobster, prawn, crab meat, scallops in the fried rice, and I also added a bit of the XO sauce which provided a spicy kick to the fried rice, making it even more delicious.
8/ 杏仁茶湯圓 sweetened almond cream with glutinous rice dumplings
The almond cream is smooth, fragrant, mildly sweet, and tastes more almond-y than almond. The accompanying glutinous rice balls are stuffed with a sweet and rich sesame filling that oozes out when you bite into their soft white skin.
Osmanthus jelly and walnut pastry were just two wonderful bites to end the meal.
The Cantonese Connection
Fresh seafood is the crux of Cantonese cuisine. Once upon a time, before the skyscrapers and stock market, Hong Kong was just a collection of fishing villages and salt pans. But with plentiful access to flavor and seafood, the provincial style developed as one of the most prominent of the eight major Chinese cuisines. Today, it the best known Chinese cuisine around the world. It has also given the Western dining table one of its daily staples—ketchup originated as a Cantonese condiment, its name deriving from the Cantonese word for tomato (kair) and sauce (tsup).
For all of the freshness of Cantonese cuisine, it remains underrepresented in the Michelin Guide. Lung King Heen is one of two Cantonese restaurants to hold three Michelin stars in Hong Kong and one of just five in the world. Altogether, there are just 127 restaurants with three Michelin stars worldwide. Lung King Heen’s victory was a milestone. But it also raised questions about comparative cuisine.
Lung King Heen 龍景軒
8 Finance Street, Central | Podium 4, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Tel : +852 3196 8888
Date Visited : Jul 2019