Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bite-Size Review: Tin Lung Heen at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

I never could have predicted that the best place in Hong Kong to have char siew (marinated BBQ pork) would be at the new-ish swish locale like the one-Michelin-starred Tin Lung Heen.  At some dive in Wanchai, maybe; in Mongkok, yeah, I can see that; but on the 102nd floor of The Ritz-Carlton?  Never crossed my mind. 

Funny thing was that I was leading a media group to that hotel at the time, and we were being hosted for dinner at Tosca, the equally blinged-out Italian restaurant on the same floor.  As I was a tad early, my old friend and, allow me to shamelessly drop his name, Executive Chef Peter Find, invited me to the restaurants' dual kitchens for an eye-opening behind-the-scenes, where-the-magic-happens mini tour.  That's when I saw his roasted meats section tucked into a wee corner of the TLH's kitchen, and that's when he introduced me to the most succulent and tender char siew I've ever had in my life.
Outstanding char siew - marinated, char-grilled black Iberian pork
To say it was delicious, amazing, and palate-popping would be a serious understatement.  That char siew was glorious.  My limited experience with roasted meats have generally led me to the mistaken belief that it's the fatty bits that make them oh-so-tasty, but Peter assured me that was not the case here.  So what you get at Tin Lung Heen is all the lean juicy, marinated-just-right goodness with none of the evil, guilt-inducing muck that you find in most other char siew joints.
Executive Chef Peter Find and his not-so-secret roasted meats lair.
Our little group returned another day to Tin Lung Heen and got the full-on eight-course treatment by Chef Paul Lau (formerly of Spring Moon at The Peninsula Hong Kong,) held in one of the private dining rooms with a stupendous view (when do they not have one?) of both Hong Kong and Kowloon.  Some of my personal favourites include the double-boiled chicken soup with fish maw served in a coconut; sauteed asparagus and wagyu beef; and a delicately-seasoned steamed cod lightly garnished with ginger and scallions.  The fried rice was just so-so, but damn, you don't go to a place like Tin Lung Heen to order, well, nasi goreng, right?  If you do, then feel free to have your own pity party with a table for one.

Now since we were generously hosted by the hotel, we didn't pay a single dime, but I was under no illusions that everything we'd consumed would've cost a pretty penny if we weren't.  The true test would come from whether one would go back when nothing is gratis anymore, and yes, I did just that.
 
And it was still worth every expensive and exquisite bite.
The wondrous eight-course feast
Tin Lung Heen - 102/F, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, Kowloon
Telephone +852 2263 2263.  Reservations highly recommended.