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 two-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 in Japan, which inspired the seasonal specials currently on the menu.
CAP ATELIER is a Hong Kong–based design studio that has worked with 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 take in the splendour of the 3-D silk-screen jewels in the main dining room, which have double-sided embroidered flowers floating on layers of silk thread.
We tried a number of seasonal and signature dishes. Of the seasonal dishes, I loved the wok-fried lobster with black truffle and crispy taro nest ($330), which had a wonderfully light yet rich egg sauce, and the Kagoshima Wagyu beef with white fungus and sansho pepper ($420). The Chilean sea bass with yuzu sauce ($390) was also very fragrant and had a sublime light batter.
The sauces and soups were the real highlights for me. I enjoyed the double-boiled sea whelk soup with Kagoshima melon ($220). It had an intense yet clean taste with a subtle sweetness. Chinese soups are some of my favourite dishes, and I don’t think I’ve ever had one with such depth of flavour.
For those who haven’t yet tried Yan Toh Heen, 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 crisp until the last bite and the broth was very full bodied. This is definitely a crave-worthy, must-order dish.
Compared to the savoury dishes, the desserts weren’t as strong. The chilled mango cream with sago and pomelo ($98) and basil dragon pearl with ginger ice cream ($120) were good but not outstanding and the fruit on a snow mountain (price upon request) was fresh but as expected. The pastry in some of the petits 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 is happy to talk guests through the various options available as well as which teapot is most suitable for their chosen tea.
While my experience at Yan Toh Heen was undoubtedly fancy, somehow the whole experience still felt warm and homey. The food is refined yet accessible, the furniture is beautiful yet comfortable and the service is friendly yet professional. Yan Toh Heen would be a lovely choice whether you’re looking for a place for a special occasion, date, business dinner or family meal.
Lower Level, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, TST, 2313 2323, click here to book now
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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