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Everyone knows that Hong Kong is a foodie’s paradise – from hawker street-food to five star dining, there are so many options that you have to choose wisely if you have a limited amount of time to spend on the island (if only we lived there!).
Based on recommendations and awards won, we visited the Excelsior / Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s Michelin starred Cantonese restaurant ‘Yee Tung Heen’ one lunchtime to sample a tasting menu of some of their finest dishes.
Visiting on a midweek lunchtime, we thought the restaurant might be a little quiet but it was already very busy when we sat down to dine (possibly because this landmark hotel announced earlier this year that is set to close permanently in March 2019 for redevelopment into apartments and office space).
After a warm welcome from the serving team, our special tasting menu (consisting of seven courses) started off with diced chicken and shrimp deep-fried dumplings. Straight from the get-go, the theatrics and food styling which Yee Tung Heen is renowned for were plain to see. Not only were the dumplings utterly delicious, but they were brought out shaped liked carrot plants in a vegetable pot – both aesthetically and appetizingly awesome.
The second course consisted of a ‘twin mushrooms’ platter; mushroom buns with assorted mushrooms and shiitake mushroom stuffed with matsutake and shrimp paste. It was so beautiful that it almost felt a crime to bite into it. We were also asked by the dining team whether we could guess which were the real mushrooms and which were recreated – it was so realistic that the two of us couldn’t decide which was real (Caroline – it was me; I got it right!). This dish was awarded a Gold with Distinction Award by the Hong Kong Tourism Board a couple of years previous.
Afterwards, we had a double boiled locust fruit soup with matsutake and assorted fungus (the saturated mushroom magnificence lingered – yum!) followed by a cleverly themed egg and dumpling dish, whereby a natural lake scene was created on a plate in front of your very eyes resplendent with mini goldfish dumplings.
My favourite dish of the entire meal followed – deep fried king prawn with sweet and sour sauce with dried cherry blossom – so many wonderful (yet contrasting) flavours on one dish, plated so elegantly and cleverly. It was also possibly the best king prawn dish I have ever tried anywhere in the world – I could eat this melt-in-your-mouth delicious dish all day long.
Our final savoury dish was braised rice with scallops, crab meat and spring onion (the rice turning a bright vivid green hue based on the reaction with the spring onions). Something that looked quite simple had so many complex layers of flavour (and scallops have always been a firm favourite of mine).
By this stage, we were both quite full as had eaten several courses of incredible food – we had managed to save just enough room for the dessert; chilled ginger custard served with pan fried green tea pancake with peanuts, sesame and coconut flake. The custard packed a real zingy punch of ginger goodness, and the sweetness of the pancake married the dish together well.
Quite simply, this was one of the most wonderful meals we’ve ever experienced on our travels, with fantastic flavours and clever culinary creations throughout – the staff were also attentive, regularly topping up our drinks and the Chinese inspired interior design was warm and welcoming.
Afterwards, we also paid a quick visit to the hotel’s rooftop terrace, where we enjoyed the wind-swept views and tried a pint of the hotel bar’s very own brewed onsite beer from their Dickens Bar.
It seems a real shame that the hotel is closing permanently in spring 2019 but as ever, business will always be business – given the regular guests will be returning to pay their final farewells to the hotel regularly before it gets demolished, we’d recommend you visit as soon as possible (and likely book ahead in advance).
Blog post by Neil Hassall. Photography is by Caroline Keyzor and Neil Hassall and is copyrighted. Please do not use without permission.
A huge thank you to Wings Mok and Sophie Sit from the Excelsior Hotel, Hong Kong for hosting us at Yee Tung Heen.