I was in Hong Kong for a short 4-day visit in March 2011. On the Saturday evening, my cousin Raymond asked me when I could have dinner with him, and I said that I would be leaving the city on Monday night. He’s well into good food also, and he said “right, let’s do both Lung King Heen and Caprice for lunch on Monday then!” I said “yeah right, it’s as if we could do these two three-Michelin-starred restaurants on the same day, let alone just securing table for one of the two.”
Somehow he managed to do this, and so on the day I was returning to London, I had the rare opportunity to eat at two top restaurants in one meal, without leaving the building as both restaurants were housed in the top Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong.
I met up with Raymond and his wife Judy at Lung King Heen, where we started the first part of the lunch with dim sum. This was the first Hong Kong Chinese restaurant to be awarded 3 Michelin stars. It had an absolutely unbeatable view of the Hong Kong harbour.
The first two steamed dim sum dumplings were steamed shrimp dumpling with morel mushroom, and steamed lobster and scallop dumpling. Both were exquisite and stuffed with a generous amount of ingredients that tasted pretty nice.
The next dim sum was baked whole abalone puff with diced chicken – the abalone was tender enough and topped with a rich glaze. And extra marks for not having soggy pastry.
We then sampled the soup, which was superior chicken broth with shredded chicken – it was very rich in chicken flavour.
Before we left the first three Michelin stars behind, we tried the chilled coffee pudding layers – it was a twist to the traditional layered coconut pudding, with the use of coffee. It looked more interesting than it tasted – somehow I did not think that the coffee worked well in this.
By this point I was nearly full, but we had to go up two floors to Caprice – the other three-Michelin-starred restaurant in the hotel. I was not prepared to have a full-blown three-course meal, so I asked the restaurant manager to recommend his favourite dish. He said that the langoustine ravioli with veal sweetbreads and wild mushrooms in shellfish bisque emulsion. It was rich in flavour but the langoustine was on the slightly chewy side. The dish was well-executed but lacked any form of excitement.
My cousin Judy had Tourteau crab tiramisu with fruity marinade and tandoori spices – the dish looked colourful and playful, and it was very refreshing with the various ingredients. Contrasted with the rich langoustine ravioli which would be more suited to the cold weather, this dish was more in line with the hot weather and the stuffiness of the city of Hong Kong.
I wasn’t going to have a dessert but Judy and Raymond insisted that I tried the Napolean cake, which was millefeuilles with raspberries. Again while there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it, there was nothing memorable.
I found the noise level at Caprice a bit too much for a restaurant of this calibre – whether it’s due to the open-kitchen design or the rushing around of the staff (apparently because of the hectic life in Hong Kong, there’s a rule at Caprice that they must be able to serve a 3-course lunch in an hour to allow the customers to get back to work, though there’s nothing stopping you having a slow lunch).
And if you would have thought that this would be the end of a crazy lunch. No! Raymond then decided that he wanted to show me the next hottest spot in Hong Kong, so he took me to a new Japanese restaurant called Sushi Ta-Ke in Causeway Bay. The restaurant was a collaboration with the famous sushi chef Sugiyama in Tokyo, and the raw fish was flown from Japan daily. We tried a few dishes, including sweet shrimp, sea urchin, clam, tuna tendon – all very fresh and tasty.
While we were just going to have a little bit of sushi to sample, Raymond once again insisted that I needed to try the Wagyu beef. It was tender and tasty enough.
By the time we finished this third restaurant at lunchtime, it was already past 3pm. I had to go for a stroll to walk off some of the food, before heading back to the hotel to collect my luggage and then headed to the IFC mall in Central for dinner at 7pm. It was at the one-Michelin-starred Lei Garden. The restaurant was busy and somewhat disorganised – in fact to the point where I was wondering how it managed even a single Michelin star? The service was chaotic: there was a steamed aubergine dish that obviously dried up before the aubergine was even cooked (we complained, and we got a much improved replacement); and then we asked for some rice at least three times and still none appeared. Avoid.
So it was either 6 Michelin stars in one lunchtime meal, or 7 Michelin stars in one day…. Either way, it was a fun thing to do though I would not have wanted to do it again, especially just before a 13-hour long-haul flight to London. One definite advantage was that I did not have to suffer any in-flight meals. Would I go back to the restaurants? Well, I would go back to Lung King Heen – whether the three stars are equivalent to ones in the Western world is debatable. For Caprice, there’s no reason for me to go back. Sushi Ta-Ke would be interesting to go back for a proper meal and sample their cooked dishes. As for Lei Garden, they won’t see me again which is a shame as it’s so convenient for the airport express train and it could have easily become a restaurant to serve my pre-flight dinner in Hong Kong!