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Quality dim sum smack dab in the middle of Central seems like a no-brainer formula for success. Newly opened House of Orient features handcrafted dim sum under the supervision of Executive Chef Wong Chi-sang. With over 40 years of experience in the kitchen, Chef Wong has worked at some of the most revered Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong, including Michelin-starred Fook Lam Moon and Guo Fu Lou.
The restaurant, dressed in striking blue-and-white details and very à-la-mode rattan furnishings, sits in the open atrium of Central’s Entertainment Building, one floor down from Emperor Cinema. The open-space design of the eatery makes it ideal for lunch and afternoon tea.
The delicate blue-and white Chinese porcelain tableware used is all handcrafted at Yuet Tung China Works, a local porcelain maker with over 100 years of history. Served in beautiful porcelain teapots are speciality teas from across China, with varieties such as Baihao Yinzhen, Bulang Royal Court Ripe Pu’er and Phoenix Oolong.
One of the tea menu’s highlights is premium Lapsang Souchong, regarded as the original strain of all the world’s black teas. Stemming from the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian, this fragrant brew was imported to the West in the 1600s and quickly became a favourite of the British monarchy. In the 1800s, Scottish botanist Robert Fortune, in the hopes of making a fortune (pun intended!), smuggled the revered tea plants to India, where they developed into what is now known as Darjeeling tea.
This highly coveted tea, still produced at the original plantation by the same family, is now served at House of Orient under the brand Darjeeling Zero ($120). We sampled the delicate, fruity and floral tea during our meal and found it very refreshing in the summer heat. We usually pair a heavier Iron Buddha or Pu’er tea with dim sum in order to undercut the greasiness, but the lighter flavour of Darjeeling Zero was uplifting and made for a good palate cleanser.
Plump little pillows of Chaozhou mixed dumpling ($48) filled with water chestnut, peanut, chive, mushroom and shrimp were the first to arrive – a delicious mix of flavours and textures that kept each bite interesting.
The shrimp dumpling ($68), a hallmark staple on any dim sum menu (like the scone of English afternoon tea) and a benchmark indicator of overall quality, was bouncy and packed with flavour, showcasing thin, translucent skin. Moving clockwise, the shredded turnip puff ($48), a personal favourite, arrived piping hot, with its delicate, flaky layers encasing juicy shredded turnip. The golden nest hard-boiled egg ($88) has a layer of juicy minced pork shaped around each quail egg, reminding us of classic siu mai, although the deep-fried shell was a bit too oily to our liking; this is a dish that’s best shared amongst a few. The black pepper beef puff ($68) is a spicy, meaty blend wrapped in a flaky pastry crust that’s shaped like Huangqiao sesame cake from Jiangsu, offering sinfully delicious bites.
Our favourite of the bunch, the phoenix eye dumpling ($48) is a delicate morsel of spinach and scallop. The sweet, bouncy scallop against the tender spinach was big on flavour but light on greasiness, leaving a very clean taste on the palate. This is a dish we could order again and again without having much guilt in the calories department. The fried flat dumpling with garlic chive ($88) was said to be filled with crabmeat, but it had the bouncy texture and flavour of shrimp instead. Regardless, we still enjoyed this crunchy treat, although this one is heavy and best shared.
Dessert came in the form of egg yolk layered cake ($68), a very labour-intensive dish that requires a wealth of experience, skill and patience to create. The pillowy sweetness was definitely much appreciated.
House of Orient serves up high-quality dim sum in the heart of Central. We are also impressed with the restaurant’s extensive tea collection and the curation behind the tea menu. We foresee this eatery becoming a very popular lunch spot, although dinner might feel a bit odd here as the open-plan design of the restaurant speaks to faster-paced meals instead of leisurely, drawn-out dining experiences.
2/F, Entertainment Building, 30 Queen’s Road Central, Central, 2123 9263
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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