Najia Xiaoguan’s founder, Na Jing-nin, has quite a pedigree – the descendant of a Qing emperor’s personal doctor, he started the acclaimed restaurant in Beijing with recipes passed down to him from an imperial cookbook. Along with the flagship restaurant in the capital, Najia Xiaoguan also has 14 sister restaurants across China.
The current executive chef of Najia Xiaoguan, Duan Yong Cheng, has landed here in Hong Kong for a 2.5-week stint at Greater China Club, cooking up traditional Manchurian imperial cuisine for discerning Hong Kong diners from now until 8 April 2018.
Manchurian cuisine is heavy on meaty flavours and Chef Cheng’s menu is a tribute to this. All the dishes we sampled were hearty and robust, so go with a big appetite and an open mind. Here are some of the highlights:
The appetiser selection was sensational, with each dish offering different flavours and textures. Our favourites were the succulent, smoky salted duck with peanut ($128 for members; $138 for non-members), the zingy, subtly spicy eggplant and deep-fried soybean with homemade sauce ($78 for members; $88 for non-members) and the perfectly golden roasted bean curd skin roll ($88 for members; $98 for non-members), filled with minced veggies.
A deeply nourishing, thick and creamy chicken soup with fish maw, abalone, sea cucumber and vegetarian shark’s fin ($388 for members; $438 for non-members), Najia’s signature dish can uniquely be eaten in three ways: on its own, with a bit of rice mixed in and with the addition of fermented bean curd, coriander and pickled chilli. Look at the deep yellow – all natural – colour of that soup…
Crispy prawns with lychee and syrup ($268 for members; $288 for non-members) provided contrasting sweet and spicy flavours alongside crunchy edible prawn shells and naturally sweet prawn flesh.
The stewed pork belly with jumbo red dates ($88 for members; $98 for non-members) was rich and fatty but oh-so-good, and we liked that the sauce was on the not-so-sweet side.
The braised whole beef rib with rice straw ($428 for members; $468 for non-members) was a sight to behold. The meat was tender and sung with lashings of pepper, cinnamon and five-spice.
This braised dish, mandarin fish with lychee ($368 for members; $408 for non-members), was another sweet-spicy-savoury winner.
The red bean pudding ($38 for members; $44 for non-members) and pea pudding ($38 for members; $44 for non-members) were classic Beijing desserts done right. Though they may not appeal to everyone, we enjoyed their light, creamy texture with just a hint of sweetness.
Unit A, 10/F, D2 Place One, 9 Cheung Yee Street, Lai Chi Kok, 2743 8055
For more articles like this, like Foodie on Facebook