I am off to have Yum Cha in Hong Kong and I figure its best to go to a venue with great views, fantastic food and great service. I choose Man Wah which is located in the Mandarin Oriental in Central Hong Kong for this occasion.
I get to the hotel and on the Man Wah floor this is the view I enjoy over Hong Kong.
I am quickly escorted to my seat and opt for a lovely Jasmine tea to start proceedings.
The table set-up is simply beautiful too.
I then start with a glass of wine (it’s a leisurely lunch after all)…
Domaine Vacheron, Sancerre, France (2013)
This is a lovely French wine which is cultivated on both limestone and flint soils. It is defined by its length and minerality. On the nose there is lovely streak of chalky flinty notes with lime and grapefruit aromas which dazzle. On the palate there is an initial lemony zest which makes way to the minerality and fresh acidity which makes this wine far less fruit intensive in flavour. Its a chilled start to the afternoon.
Assorted Dim Sum Platter
Tiger prawn and bamboo shoot dumpling. The sticky glutinous dumpling casing wrap sticks to your tongue until you manage to pierce it, releasing the juices and flavours of the tiger prawn which is succulent and retains it natural flavours perfectly. The soft crunch of the bamboo shoot adds a little extra dimension but the prawn is really the star of the dish.
Roast goose puff with yanmin sauce. This is a little gem, its shaped like a goose for an added aesthetic touch – probably too beautiful as I just don’t want to eat it. When I eventually give in to temptation; I taste the rich gamey goose meat which is soft and falls apart on the tongue, while the yanmin sauce (Yanmin is a Cantonese fruit which is small and green with a very tart flavour) offers a rich fruity caramelised flavour and a sticky consistency to hold the goose meat together. The buttery soft pastry is also quite the delight and just crumbles in your mouth.
Golden taro puff with abalone. This is really about textures and flavour balance. The soft “elastic-like” texture of the abalone is pitted against the crunch of the taro puff coating and then contrasted to the smooth taro paste. The strength of the abalone flavour is then balanced with the soft mild flavoured taro to provide a well-balanced dumpling to arouse the taste sensors.
Crabmeat and green pea dumpling
This place does the aesthetics oh so well! The dumplings look like bright green pea pods. Again, you have to overcome the urge just to sit and gaze them. Once I do, in the inside there is a soft creamy pea mash with fluffy succulent crab meat intermingled among it then wrapped in a soft sticky glutinous dumpling wrapper. A wonderful soft subtle flavoured dumpling to continue the afternoon.
Beef tenderloin puff, black pepper sauce
This is a masterpiece and one of their signature dishes. The beef filling is wrapped in wrapped in 96 layers of thin puff pastry making it super light and extremely crispy. It is a real joy to bite through this pastry… trust me. Then just imagine a rich thick beef stew, with the intense smokiness of the pepper, the light salt of an oriental seasoning and the full chunks of tender quality beef which is so succulent and full of flavour. That is this dish, a combination of the classic pastry and beef stew which are perfect on their own and indescribable as a pair.
Braised chicken feet with abalone sauce
Now I know some people might go “yuk” at chicken feet (in fact one of my work colleagues did just that when I showed her this picture) but I just love chicken feet. Firstly its the soft jelly like flesh and cartilage which just falls off the bone and provides a unique tasting experience while the intensity of the abalone sauce and soft peanuts make for a beautiful experience. It is a little messy and probably not the ideal dish to have on a first date.
I decide to skip dessert and have a glass of wine to finish, but the staff nonetheless bring a couple of small dessert amuse bouche. There is a butternut sago pudding on the right and the almond biscuit on the left. They are nice small bites to ease out of lunch and into the final glass of wine.
Chateau Nine Peaks Reserva, Cabernet Sauvignon (2011), Qingdao, China
A new world wine and one is perfect to round out the lunch. This is a young vineyard and sommelier recommends I come back in a few years and try this vintage again. This particular wine has concentrated and complex aromas with deep vanilla and light menthol. On the palate there is the rich ripe wild berry fruit flavours with nice balance and lingering taste which continues on the palate.
Overall the restaurant and yum cha experience is simply out of this world. The food ticked the boxes in terms of offering a variety of textures, flavours and a wonderful aesthetics (which can often be difficult with basic dumplings). The wines by the glass were limited but the ones offered by the glass were certainly unique and enjoyable for a solo diner to enjoy.
The service was extremely attentive with dishes being cleared the second they were empty, new plates brought out when the existing base plate was a little messy, the tea was continuously topped up and even a little sauce spillage by myself on the table cloth resulted in a brand new table cloth being placed over to cover the evidence. It was just impossible to fault the service.