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To me, a multi-course, Michelin-starred tasting menu is usually reserved for special occasions. Often they are a worthwhile splurge, but in a year like this one, I’ve tried to be more restrained. My taste buds have also mostly been craving homestyle comfort food.
So I was really excited to learn about (and try!) two-Michelin-starred Ying Jee Club’s new comfort-food-packed eight-course nostalgic tasting menu ($880/person), on offer for a reasonable price. It’s available for lunch (and, when hours are extended again, dinner).
Since it opened in 2017, I’ve heard many great reviews about Ying Jee Club – with some die-hard Cantonese cuisine fans declaring it their favourite restaurant in town. Chef Siu Hin-Chi, formerly the executive chef at Duddell’s, has been at the helm since its opening and is widely known as a master of his craft.
With this new tasting menu, the chef hopes to evoke fond memories and/or introduce new flavours (depending on the age of the diner!) by featuring various dishes popularised from the 1930s to the 1960s. Comfort food made with premium ingredients and Michelin-starred skills – but does it live up to the hype?
The meal started with crispy taro toast with prawn. We’ve probably all had the white-toast version of this dish, but did you know the original base was made with taro? These were accompanied by comforting minced pork and shrimp patties.
Next up was bird’s nest broth with partridge. Finely minced partridge, purple yam purée and egg white ribbons, all swirled together and topped with imperial bird’s nest. Silky and elegant.
Here is the steamed leopard coral garoupa with shredded pork, black mushrooms and bean curd. All the ingredients are layered and then steamed together so that the meat juices trickle down to the fish and tofu.
This sautéed pigeon with sea cucumber and Yunnan ham was perhaps my favourite dish of the night. The pigeon was super tender, with a classic superior soy glaze. And the breaded Yunnan ham with rock sugar and ginger was such a treat – I wish I could have this all the time, but alas!
The braised chicken wings with Yunnan ham and bamboo shoots is a dish that requires the chef to debone each wing without tearing the skin and then stitch it back together with julienned bamboo shoot. Beautiful and also delicious – tender flesh braised and glistening with abalone sauce.
I’m still trying to wrap my head about the technique required for the braised pomelo peel with conpoy and fish maw. The pomelo pith is repeatedly soaked, boiled and chilled over three days, then deep-fried and braised in a stock of fish bones, dried shrimp and Jinhua ham. If this is a nostalgic dish for you, get thee to Ying Jee Club ASAP! To me, it was an undeniably tasty comfort-food dish, though I’d never imagine it had taken so long to prepare.
The steamed fried rice came with chicken, conpoy and whole abalone.
To end the meal, we were served red bean pudding with coconut milk, winter melon paste puff and baked sago pudding with lotus seed paste. The pudding and puff were good, if not particularly memorable, but the sago pudding was spectacular. I can’t wait to have this one again!
To be honest, I haven’t had very much high-end Cantonese cuisine (besides high-end dim sum). This nostalgic tasting menu at Ying Jee Club was lovely, though I felt like I needed someone to explain the skills involved; otherwise the dishes may have seemed, deceptively, simple. I’d definitely recommend this one to Cantonese cuisine experts as well as anyone else wanting to explore high-end Cantonese cuisine. Maybe we can’t travel (to other countries or back in time), but thankfully, good meals can still be transportive.
Also, if you prefer to eat at home these days, Ying Jee Club is offering various takeaway set menus as well as a takeaway à-la-carte menu (15% off for takeaway orders). Signature dishes include crispy salted chicken, marinated pigeon with Hua Diao and wok-fried lobster with shallot and scallion.
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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