Restaurant review: Yan Toh Heen, Intercontinental Hotel, Hong Kong (2 Michelin stars)
Some of the best Chinese food I've EVER had
Recently, one of my favourite things to do is explore new types of Chinese cuisine. While I grew up eating Chinese food, it was usually home cooking or from casual neighbourhood spots. Perhaps that’s why it remains my favourite comfort food - it reminds me of family and warmth. Though I haven’t experienced much high-end Chinese food, I was excited to try the newly renovated Yan Toh Heen at the Intercontinental. What would 2-Michelin starred Chinese food be like? Would it be worth the price?
While prices are high at Yan Toh Heen, the quality really is excellent. The dishes had so much depth and flavour and obviously took great skill and time to prepare. Chef Lau Yiu Fai, who leads the kitchen, has been with the restaurant since it opened in 1984. Recently, he went to visit Kagoshima which inspired the seasonal specials currently on the menu.
We tried a number of seasonal and signature dishes. Of the seasonal dishes, I loved the wok-fried lobster with black truffle and a crispy taro nest ($330, seasonal) which had a wonderful light yet rich egg sauce, and the Kagoshima wagyu beef with white fungus and Sansho pepper ($420, seasonal). The Chilean sea bass with Yuzu sauce ($390) was also very fragrant and had the lightest batter.
The sauces and soups were highlights for me. I really enjoyed the double boiled sea whelk soup with Kagoshima melon ($220). It had a rich yet clean taste with a subtle sweetness. Chinese soup is one of my favourite things and I don’t think I’ve ever had one with such depth of flavour.
For those that haven’t tried Yan Toh Heen before, the crispy fried rice with crab claw in fish bouillon ($170) is one of Chef Lau’s signature dishes. The rice somehow managed to stay crispy until the last bite and the broth was very full bodied. This is definitely a crave-worthy, must-order dish.
Compared with the savoury dishes, the desserts weren’t as strong. The chilled mango cream with sago ($98) and pomelo and basil dragon pearl with ginger ice cream ($128) were good but not outstanding, and the fruit on a snow mountain (price on request) was fresh but as expected. The pastry in some of the petit fours was a bit stodgy.
But maybe you’d prefer to end your meal with some tea? Yan Toh Heen has perhaps Hong Kong’s only tea sommelier. Like Chef Lau, Kelvin Ng is also a master at his craft and happy to talk guests through the various options as well as which teapot is most suitable for their chosen tea.
CAP-ATELIER is a Hong Kong-based design studio that has worked with various high-end hotel clients including Mandarin Oriental and The Peninsula as well as the Intercontinental. For the new Yan Toh Heen, they designed the space to resemble a Jade treasure chest. Guests enter through a jade gate, walk through a passageway with jade resin screens inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and enjoy the 3-D silk screen jewels in the main dining room which have double-sided embroidered flowers floating in layers of silk thread.
While my experience at Yan Toh Heen was undoubtedly fancy, somehow the whole experience still felt warm and homey. The food was refined yet accessible; the furniture was beautiful yet comfortable; and the service was friendly. Yan Toh Heen would be a lovely choice whether you’re looking for a place for a special occasion, date, or business or family dinner.
Lower Level, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, TST, 2313 2323
*By invitation for Foodie