Tuesday, November 22, 2016

T'ang Court - 11/07/2016

8 Peking Rd. Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
+852 2132 7898

With two days in Hong Kong it would have been a sacrilege not to try one of the island's two 3 star Cantonese restaurants. Given the last-minute nature of the trip, we were left with few options so we settled on a lunchtime reservation at T'ang court. Fortunately when we arrived we were informed the restaurant offers its full menu at lunch as well as dinner. The dinner menu features several tasting menus as well as a bevy of a la carte options. My girlfriend and I each opted for the One Person Set Menu which our waiter said was the best way for two people to fully experience the chef's cooking. Sadly we didn't get to try the restaurant's dim sum offering but there's always next time.

Baked Stuffed Crab Shell with Crab Meat and Onion
First up was a crab shell stuffed with shredded crab meat, cream, and onion then baked in a golden crust. Breaking through the crispy exterior revealed a rich creamy mass of shredded crab and onions. Our server made a point to stress the crab meat was fresh (which should be a given at this price point) and indeed the vibrant salinity seemed to back up his assertion. The bits of onion do a nice job adding a bit of sweet zest to the potent heft of the crab.

Double Boiled Fish Maw, Chicken and Sea Whelk in Yunnan Ham Soup
The soup course consisted of a light broth of chicken and ham, infused with a clean vivid umami from the fish maw and whelk that was very reminiscent of a milder version of shark's fin soup. The soup comes filled with the constituent ingredients for some textural contrast but having been thoroughly boiled there wasn't much flavor to any of them.

Braised whole abalone with BĂȘche-de-Mer and seasonal vegetables
This course was quintessential Cantonese luxury. The abalone was braised to a uniformly supple and tender texture with a deep aggressive salinity while the sea cucumber had a silky gelatin like texture both coated in a glorious golden brown sauce. Like the seafood, the accompanying vegetables were cooked perfectly and the resulting texture was tender but still retained a bit of crispy snap while the subdued bitter flavor was a pleasant contrast to the multifaceted savor of the abalone and sea cucumber.

Pan-fried Sliced Spot Garoupa with Soya Sauce
I was looking forward to the fish from the moment I saw it on the menu and the fragrant aroma that accompanied it had me salivating in anticipation. The thick dense flakes are wrapped in a delicately thin crispy layer that is beautifully infused with soy sauce. Though my tastes tend to run toward lighter density fish the perfectly fried grouper was a very welcome change of pace.

E-fu Noodles with Sliced Lobster in Lobster Head and Claw Stock
I've never been a fan of lobster E-fu noodles, as I typically find both the noodle and lobsters a bit overcooked and mushy. I had high hopes that T'ang Court would be the restaurant to break that trend but they only partially succeeded. The lobster was a touch overcooked but the noodles had a much firmer texture and the lobster stock and scallions made for a delightful accompaniment to the noodles.

Fresh Fruit and T'ang Court Delight
The fresh fruit was somewhat underwhelming, not particularly sweet and a touch under ripe, but the desserts were quite enjoyable. First up was a red bean in gelatin over a green tea base that presented the classic flavors in a unique textural package. Besides that was a little morsel of coconut and some unidentified filling that was sweet and paired nicely with the fresh coconut flavor.

Our meal at T'ang Court was the most complete Chinese dining experience I've ever had, but despite that I still was left a bit wanting. The one-person tasting menu is a touch seafood heavy but I suppose that can't be helped given the Chinese emphasis on ingredients over technique. That isn't to say that the cooking lacked technique, indeed this is one of the most polished Cantonese meals that I've ever tasted. All of the dishes were perfectly executed, the service was warm and attentive, and the decor was both elegant yet inviting, but for all of that I never really felt the wow factor that made me feel like I was dining at a 3 Michelin Star restaurant.

Read more.