Some of the complaints that we frequently hear about Cantonese cuisine include that the flavours aren’t bold enough, it’s often too oily, or the quality / sourcing of ingredients can be a bit dodgy. We were recently invited by Hotel ICON to sample the menus created by newly appointed Chef Sammy Ho Pui Ying. Chef Ho and his team were recruited from the Four Seasons Macau, but his claim to cooking fame stems from his 17-year stint at The Peninsula Hotel, where he served as Executive Chef. He is also one of the founding members of the Chinese Cuisine Training Institue’s training committee.
Hong Kong born and bred, Chef Ho has brought his wealth of experience to create an impressive Cantonese and regional Chinese menu for the already highly-rated Above & Beyond. With a focus on traditional flavours, locally-sourced ingredients, and healthy cooking methods (read less deep-frying), we were eager to start our meal.
We opened our meal with a Crispy Crab Claw with Shrimp Mousse ($138), in which the chef uses a half pan-fry, half deep-fry cooking methodology which gave the shrimp mousse a succulent texture. We particularly enjoyed the flavourful dried scallop topping that added a bit of dimension to the crab / shrimp flavour.
The Braised Garoupa Fillet with Egg White and Yellow Broth ($300) was one of our favourite dishes of the meal. Its unique, silky egg white “pearls” are made using a secret method, and float in a golden chicken broth (coloured with carrots, not egg yolks). We love the braised garoupa, which is tender and cooked perfectly. This dish speaks to the heart of Cantonese cooking, which relies on the true, distinct flavours of the ingredients to shine brightly.
The Wok-Fried Prawn with Tangerine Peel and Luoding Fermented Soy Beans ($268) offered a great balance of flavours with the tangerine peels and fermented soy beans sourced specifically from the Guangzhou province for this dish.
The Wok-Fried Wagyu Beef Cubes with Chiu-Chow Style Soy-Marinated Goose Liver ($388) arrived next and was not a disappointment. As one cuts through the clutter of the name, we see a plate of black pepper Wagyu steak cubes with foie gras arrive to the table. Yum.
The Steamed Minced Pork with Tai O Salted Fish ($188) was one of those dishes that brought us back to our childhood. A traditionally Cantonese dish, this version featured hand-chopped pork with water chestnuts and salted fish sourced from Tai O Fishing Village, which is known for their high-quality salted fish.
Chef Ho selected a special breed of free-range chicken from Qingyuan, which boasts an optimal ratio of fat to meat, to prepare the Marinated Chicken with Shaoxing Wine dish ($238 half/$468 whole). The chicken was slightly overcooked, but was seasoned well.
We sensed the end of our meal arriving as the Northern Chinese-Style Crispy Sliced Potato with Dried Chilli Peppers ($98) was served. As a lover of fried potatoes, these were cooked and seasoned exceptionally well, with a crispy exterior, and a soft potato-ey inside.
Dessert was rolled out and turned out to be just as impressive as the rest of the meal. We were offered a plate of three traditional Cantonese sweets to bring closure to our meal: a light and crispy Golden Sesame Ball with Bird’s Nest, a fluffy Salted-Egg Sponge Cake, and a coconutty Baked-Sago with Red Bean.
With the many options for Cantonese cuisine in this town, we left feeling that Chef Ho has brought something special to Hong Kong. Not only beautiful in presentation, the flavours that Chef Ho melded together from the classic and new traditions were what set this meal apart from the many others available in Hong Kong. It’s usually the delicate, deliberate choices that can set a great meal apart from just a good one. We were impressed by the choices that Chef Ho has made and highly recommend a visit for those of you looking for a high-quality Cantonese dining experience.
28/F Hotel ICON, 17 Science Museum Road,Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon
Tel. 3400 1490