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The Legacy House at Rosewood Hong Kong showcases the best of Shunde cuisine, a genre of Cantonese cuisine, and pays homage to the Cheng family patriarch, Dr Cheng Yu-tung, who began Chow Tai Fook and New World Development, the company behind the K11 MUSEA and Victoria Dockside developments.
As a celebration of the family’s heritage, the restaurant features a menu dedicated to the delicate intricacies of Shunde culinary traditions, a region often referred to as the “cradle of Cantonese cuisine”. Fresh river fish from the Pearl River Delta and local ingredients like dried tangerine peel and dates are widely featured on the menu.
Designed by award-winning Melbourne-based BAR Studio, the restaurant has an airy main dining room with harbour views, an outdoor terrace and seven private rooms, each named after a milestone in Dr Cheng’s life.
Chinese Executive Chef Li Chi-Wai is the master craftsman behind the menu. With over 20 years of culinary experience in Cantonese cuisine, Chef Li has presided over several fine-dining establishments at top-tier luxury hotels, most recently at MGM Macau. In 2014, he presented the welcome dinner for President Xi Jinping during the 15th-anniversary celebrations of Macau’s reunification with China.
Our tasting began in one of the beautifully appointed private dining rooms overlooking Victoria Harbour, dominated by two banquet tables topped with what may be the world’s heaviest lazy Susans, made from volcanic rock.
Soft-spoken Chef Li began with an introduction of the inspirations behind his seasonal spring menu. His description of the tedious process behind each dish made us further appreciate what we were about to taste.
An amuse-bouche of marinated pear in sweet osmanthus syrup, topped with goji berries, whet our appetite. The crisp crunch of the pear, perfumed with osmanthus flowers, made for a refreshing start to the meal, especially when paired with the aromatic Lion’s Peak Dragon Well tea ($100).
A treasure trove of delicate dim sum followed, comprised of vegetable dumpling wrapped in bamboo pith with black truffle ($90), pork dumpling topped with bouncy, plump abalone ($120) and an adorable fish dumpling ($90), shaped painstakingly and painted to resemble an actual fish. The fish dumpling uses hand-picked fish meat to ensure no stray bones, and it’s mixed with crunchy wood fungus and tangerine peel for textural and flavour contrast.
The minced fish soup ($220/person) is a soothing bowl filled with hand-sliced fish, wood fungus, tangerine peel and crushed pine nuts. The soup is creamy and packed with collagen, thanks to the slow-boiling process that extracts all the richness out of the fish. We enjoyed the crunch of the pine nuts and wood fungus against the silkiness of the fish.
The steamed crab claw ($390/person) features meaty crustaceans from Australia served in a velvety chicken broth alongside an omelette-topped cube of tofu. We were very curious about the size of the whole crab – that claw must be the biggest crab claw we’ve encountered thus far! The meaty, sweet crab was utterly satisfying, especially when coated in the rich chicken broth.
A classic Shunde dish, the double-boiled eel ($180/person) comes wrapped in savoury preserved vegetable leaves, nestled in a supreme broth sauce. The rich umami broth, made with ham and mushrooms, is dotted with sweet lily bulbs, lotus seeds, winter bamboo shoots and ginkgo nuts. The deboned white eel was sticky and gelatinous, and we especially liked the wash of spiciness that hit the palate as we spooned up mouthfuls of the sauce. Traditionally, this dish is made to be a soup, but the chef has thickened the liquid into a sauce for a more concentrated flavour.
The pipa roasted goose ($280 for ½ or $450 for whole) gets its name from its stretched, flattened shape, which resembles that of the Chinese instrument. The dish is even served in earthenware modelled after the instrument. The flattened shape of the bird helps to render more fat during the roasting process, which results in crispier skin. We’ve had this dish many times before, but always using a duck rather than a goose. The goose was surprisingly just as tender as the duck and packed full of rich, gamy flavours. The skin was so light and crunchy, we thought it was comparable to the crispy-skinned chicken popular in Cantonese cuisine.
The poached mustard greens ($280/person), simmered in a comforting chicken soup infused with dried shrimp and topped with conpoy, was a luxurious way to up our vegetable intake. We especially liked the starchy contrast provided by the Jerusalem artichoke, which soaked up the flavours of the broth.
Bathed in a rich, creamy sauce, the braised porcini noodles ($300) come interlaced with plump ribbons of fish maw, fresh porcini and spring onion. The crispy ginger strands that crown the noodles provide subtle hints of heat. We drenched each strand of noodles in the collagen-packed sauce (thanks to the fish maw) to maximise the flavour impact of each bite. Porcini mushrooms are also incorporated into the actual noodles, although we couldn’t quite detect the taste of the fungi as the sauce is already filled with so much flavour.
An added bonus as we approach Dragon Boat Festival, we got to sample the two flavours of sticky rice dumplings, or zongzi, the restaurant has created to celebrate the occasion. The savoury option (left) is filled with “eight treasures”, comprised of six-headed South African abalone, pork belly, chestnut, lotus seed, conpoy, chanterelle, porcini and shiitake and seasoned with yellow wine, five-spice and soy sauce. The rice, mixed with green beans for an extra textural contrast, is thoroughly infused with the aromatic fillings.
The sweet sticky rice dumpling (right) has a filling of whole chestnuts and gooey lotus-seed paste. We’re big fans of sweet sticky rice, although the alkaline taste of this dumpling is certainly an acquired taste (an alkaline solution is used to create an almost gel-like consistency in the rice). You can purchase a gift set ($588) containing two rice dumplings.
We concluded our feast with a pageantry of beautiful sweet treats, including strawberry palmiers in the shape of striped butterflies, black sesame rolls, white sugar pudding, cream-filled mango mochi, baked black taro puffs filled with sweet custard crafted in the shape of swans and deep-fried milk rolls.
The flaky, delicate palmier is a speciality of Chef Li, made famous during his time at MGM Macau. The fried milk roll is another signature; this one is light and crunchy and has a creamy centre. Our favourite, however, was the cream-filled mango mochi, which is on the lighter side and accented with fragrant fresh mango.
Tangy batons of coconut milk and roselle pudding acted as tart palate cleansers at the end of our meal.
The Legacy House presents a meticulously crafted menu showcasing the best of Shunde cuisine. The flavours of this genre are intricate and subtle, requiring a high level of finesse in order to execute the dishes without upsetting the delicate flavour balance. Chef Li has created each dish with expertise honed from years of dedication to the art of fine Cantonese cuisine. The flavours and ingredients used at The Legacy House are refined, so they might be a bit foreign to Chinese cuisine novices, but they will surely satisfy seasoned, savvy aficionados who are accustomed to Shunde dishes.
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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