2017's Top 20 Restaurants: Pearl Dragon
By Wilson Fok
November 21, 2016
For the past five years, the team at Hong Kong Tatler Dining have had the task of reviewing hundreds of restaurants to ultimately select 20 that we feel represented the year's best dining experiences. Among so many meals eaten, we're confident that these 20 restaurants have achieved just that.
When cultures collide, new ideas form. Pearl Dragon is exactly that new star of 2016. Its name suggests the glorious shine of an opulent pearl and at the dining arena of the Cotai Strip, those new ideas bring equal parts respect for tradition and theatrics of presentations—in an execution that delights, surprises and impresses the many visitors to this extraordinary Chinese restaurant.
Guests arriving at Pearl Dragon are greeted and led through a rich display of wines, from more affordable to prized, limited labels from around the world. Through the cellar-lined corridor, guests are invited to step into chef Tam Kwok-Fung’s new culinary arena, where his signature cuisine takes centre stage.
The corridor leads up to the stylish main dining area, embellished with pale shades of green such as verdant jade, as well as the lightest shade of grey. The carpeted dining space, together with the private dining rooms at the far end of the restaurant, exude a sense of subdued elegance, elevated with crystal chandeliers and silver-toned lamp installations.
“Shall we start with tea?” It’s a kind invitation and a glimpse into Pearl Dragon’s proud selection of artisanal teas, from well-known, top-notch varieties to seasonal rarities. Guests are encouraged to choose their desired brew, prepared at the table throughout the meal. The staff carefully picks out the tender leaves, trembling against a cascade of boiling water, swelling and releasing an aroma of intrigue. The brewed teas—green, black, white and oolong—are prepared with calculated precision and served at just the right moment in refined china teaware.
One may find Jade Dragon’s bestsellers making an appearance on Pearl Dragon’s menu. Miniature cherry tomatoes marinated in avocado oil and plum-wine jelly tickle the palate with their welcoming sweetness and tartness, getting one ready for a sumptuous feast. Watch as Cantonese heritage is reinvented with a host of surprises along the way: the crispy suckling pig filled with shrimp paste is dainty, a marvellous marriage of land and ocean; black garlic added to wok-seared Australian wagyu beef adds a fermented sweet element to the well-marbled meat; foie gras parcels with mushroom and Iberico char siu takes the traditional gold-coin chicken to great lengths, replacing the fatty pork with a thick slice of mushroom to adopt a healthier approach without losing its iconic texture.
Watch as Cantonese heritage is reinvented with a host of surprises along the way: the crispy suckling pig filled with shrimp paste is dainty, a marvellous marriage of land and ocean
Chef Tam’s kitchen mastery is demonstrated in his stir-fried lobster with caviar—it’s a perfect example of his prowess in controlling timing and his familiarity with ingredients. The crustacean is quickly tossed in the hot wok, turning into morsels with a coral hue and garnished with dabs of caviar, promising tender richness in every bite.
Tam is a master of new ideas, with great respect and appreciation for the traditional methods. His masterful techniques and fluid, innovative style cross over at Pearl Dragon, where a meal extends far beyond course after course of flavours and textures, resulting in a journey of discovery that’s paved with awe and enjoyment.
Pearl Dragon, Shop 2111, 2/F, Star Tower, Studio City Hotel, Estrada do Istmo, Cotai, Macau; +853 8865 6560