Yan Toh Heen
18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon
Hong Kong, China
Tel. (852) 2313 2323
Food type: Cantonese
Nearest tube: Tsim Sha Tsui East
Website: Yan Toh Heen
Of all the meals I had planned for my recent Hong Kong trip, Yan Toh Heen was one which I had the least expectations for. This was another restaurant recommended by my friend Felix. But I don’t know why. Maybe it was because this meal was going to be my last meal in Hong Kong and I had only planned to have a quick dim sum lunch. Or maybe it was because Yan Toh Heen is not a trendy place on the food bloggers hot list. As such, I had done very little in terms of research online to ‘scout’ the must order dishes.
Yan Toh Heen has been around for a long time and has quietly gone around with business. It had recently been promoted to 2*s in the latest Hong Kong & Macau Michelin guide – an accolade which had been long overdue according to various foodie friends. The dining room is located at the basement of the Intercontinental Hong Kong (formerly the Regent Hotel) next to the Avenue of Stars. As you enter the dining room, you are greeted with jade green motifs on the wall, the same motifs which would grace each dining table. The view from the restaurant is spectacular with views of Hong Kong Island. You will want to reserve your table early to obtain one of the few window seats, especially if you are having dinner as it would provide a 1st class view of the “Symphony of Lights” light show. (As an aside, the Lobby Lounge and Spoon restaurant at the Intercontinental also have excellent views for the light show.)
As we were only here for a quick lunch, the no-brainer option was to indulge in the dim sum menu with a few dips into the a la carte menu (a full a la carte menu is also available at lunch along with 2 separate tasting menus). Chef Lau’s dim sum menu is both interesting and exciting. Along with classics such as Crispy Spring Rolls and Siu Mai (Steamed Pork and Prawn Dumpling with Crabmeat Roe) are some of his more creative creations.
Take for example his Signature Yan Toh Heen Dumplings – a trio of seasonal dumpling is prettily presented in a rectangular wooden box with the lid lifted at the table. A huge puff of steam greats you before you are greeted with the sight of three beautiful and unique dumplings. My favourite of the lot was the scallop and black truffle dumpling with perfectly timed sweet scallops lifted by the black truffle.
For me Char Siu Bao (Steamed Barbecue Pork Buns) is the barometer for which a dim sum restaurant is to be judged. Chef Lau’s version simply has to be one of the best I have eaten in a long time, only outdone by perhaps the version at Lung King Heen – the bun light and airy, almost as if you are eating a cloud and the barbecue pork filling had just the right balance of sticky, salty and sweet.
The best dish of the day was the Siu Yuk (Roasted Pork Belly with Crispy Crust) which featured perfect crackling and a melt in your mouth tender pork. The dish was accompanied by a small selection of pickled vegetables to help cut through the richness of the pork. This has to be the best Siu Yuk I have eaten, bar none.
Athough desserts are a simple affair, be sure to try their Egg Tartlettes garnished with bird’s nest. Whilst I personally do not think the bird’s nest add anything to the dish, the egg tarts themselves were clinically executed with crumbly shortcrust pastry and an egg custard filling which had just perfectly set.
It would have been very easy for Yan Toh Heen to serve mediocre food and still get away with it given its stunning location and the fact that the hotel is very popular with Western guests. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised to encounter some of the best Cantonese cooking in Hong Kong and this meal was very much as enjoyable as my meal at Lung King Heen. It was such a shame that I had only planned a quick lunch here and had I known the cooking here would be so impressive I would have arranged for a longer more elaborate dinner. Perhaps next time!