Sunday, November 20, 2011

Yan Toh Heen (Hong Kong) 11/2011

Several well regarded food connoisseurs have told us that Michelin usually gets things right for French cuisine but they are unreliable judges of Japanese and Chinese cooking. After my last disappointing experience here at Yung Kee I could not agree more. Nevertheless we decided to try YTH which has achieved one star for 2010 and 2011 in the HK and Macau guide. In the Intercontinental Hotel, Kowloon, opposite the Star ferry the restaurant is in a pleasant low key room simply decorated with a scattering of Bonsai trees. Tables are initially set up with jade place trays, chop sticks and some cutlery. They offer a la carte or two tasting menus. We were happy to try the eight course 'Exquisite Delicate Menu' Before the first course the chef offered a small serve of a deep fried tofu with some tiny shallot stems and carrot. The menu began with fresh scallop with fresh fruit salad. Barely seared the scallops were in a fruit salad, tiny squares of apple, cantaloupe and thin slices of strawberry were covered in a light creamy mayonnaise. Attractive in appearance the dish worked well with its' varied textures and tastes. Imperial birds nest soup with minced chicken is a subtle tasting dish in a distinct rice like gluey porridge. The genuine article is made from the saliva that a particular small bird uses in constructing it's nest. It is thought, by practitioners of Chinese medicine, to have many health benefits. Who knows, there is very little research to support, or deny, this thesis. We then had crispy prawns in batter with a perfectly balanced sweet sour sauce. Steamed garouper filet with crab meat roe and egg white. Art on a plate each element on this plate was excellent in itself but magnificent as a combination. The garouper, just cooked through, held it's structure, the egg white only seconds from being raw, as light as a feather, all constructed in a colourful display of nuanced tastes. Meals for Emperors ( ), states "According to the ancient Chinese classic, The National Language- The Language of the Zheng Satae' dishes should no be of a single ingredient or several monotonous ingredients but should be diverse. The diversification should not be a simple mixture but a reasonable blending. The precise term for this reasonable blending is "harmony", which meant scientific coordination." This was a fine example. Wok fried Wagyu beef with mixed mushrooms and garlic also filled the rules for Imperial cuisine, although it was much closer to a traditional western Chinese dish. It's really not necessary to say that the Wagyu was exceptionally tender and only lightly cooked. Mushrooms are always great with steak. Here they had a heavy sauce which we both felt could have been lighter. Stewed whole abalone with noodles came next. I've had very thin sliced abalone barbecued for seconds, which was tender, but anytime we have been served abalone in larger or thicker pieces it has always been very rubbery. Not tonight. The taste of the abalone had seeped into the noodles giving the whole dish a great flavour. Chilled mango cream with sago and pomelo had a small baked egg tartlet. Quite a simple dessert but made with a light touch. I was a bit disappointed that this tart, which would just about cover a 50 cent piece, was our last course. Lychee scented longjing tea was offered in a small bowl with a top.
As it drew we were instructed to pick up the bowl and, holding the lid slightly open, to pour the tea into the small tea cups. It looked easy but I soon spilt the tea down the side of the bowl onto the table cloth. With no handle, and being very hot this was harder than it looked. Some bean paste filled pastries and crispy biscuits completed the meal.
The couple at the neighbouring table must have been celebrating something as they got this fruit imbedded ice castle for their dessert!
They have a reasonably extensive but excessively expensive wine list with mark ups of several 100% in some cases. With the mandatory 10% service charge there was almost nothing under A$100/ bottle. This is not a cheap place to eat and the final bill came to just under A$600. They also offer a more extensive tasting menu for just under A$1000 for two, not counting drinks.The only thing that struck me as we ate this meal was the number of dishes in which asparagus were used, in all it was a quite excellent meal.
Score 17/20

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