Tin Heung Lau, apparently Hong Kong’s top restaurant specializing in Hangzhou cuisine that is unmatched, also one of the oldest known restaurants around, spanning a history of almost 50 years.
Strangely, being a Chinese and grew up there seem to be not enough – the best Hangzhou cuisine I’ve ever had is outside mainland China, in Hong Kong…
When my former colleague, an experience gourmet local HK guy suggested this restaurant, I was like: what? Hangzhou food in HK? Are you kidding?
However, having quite some faith in him, I took his word that this restaurant being his ‘no. 1 favorite all over the world’!
The setting of the restaurant is very original, like a scene from the movies of the old days. In fact it was often used to shot films or TV series which date back to the 70s.
Alright, as always, our great experience started with wine. But this time not the wine made of grapes, but a Chinses rice wine ‘Hua Diao’.
* Shao Hsing Hua Diao Wine (Le huangjiu « vin jaune » en mandarin, ou vin de cereal), the name literately means ‘flowery carving wine, is a type of rice wine originated from Shao Xing, China. It is mainly made of glutinous rice and wheat. Alcohol content by volume: 16% or less.
I’m not a rice wine drinker, usually don’t like it too much; but this one was a real hit! After being aged for 32 years, the flavor became so smooth and the taste so mellow! Yet so very profound, went deep and sweet all the way down to your heart…
Also, as most of the dishes from Hangzhou cuisine add this wine to bring flavor while cooking, it’s the perfect drink to go with the food here – so prefect in fact, that’s almost toughing!
Our dinner did include most of the popular dishes there – Pickled radish, stir fried prawn with longjin tea, Tung Por Pork (braised pork belly of a very specific cut of a very specific pig from China), crab noodle (where the crab roe and crab meat mixed up into a very rich and flavorsome crab roe sauce, paired with Shanghainese style noodle), and some more. All so very nice…
The pickled radish was the best pickle I’ve ever tried, it’s very simple and slightly sweet, but had such a quiet power, which made it stands so firm. Also the Tung Por Pork was finely made, perfectly done without tasting fatty or oily, its tender texture was almost magical. Not to mention their star dish crab roe, creamy and sophisticated, leaving a long taste lingering in your mouth…
To sum it up, the cooking here has a real kind of ‘the good old days’ taste, which was in a way very reduced – neither fancy skills nor decorative flavors, only very simple and clear gestures that hit directly into the heart. Sometimes you get the feeling that some people try to build a city out of sand, but here you see clearly that they’re guarding their stone castle like the real old fashioned knights.
A heaven experience… Highly recommended!
Price: HKD 500-1000 per person.