Loyal fans of Ah Yat Harbour View Restaurant’s original Wanchai location welcomed the news that the Cantonese restaurant was opening up across the harbour in Tsim Sha Tsui’s iSquare mall late in 2009. Hopefully, the die-hard fans won’t mind the sorry state of the temperamental lifts, resulting in 15-minute long queues that are not uncommon for this building. Once you get up to the 29/F, though, the spectacular 180 degree harbour view enjoyed by virtually everyone makes the wait almost worthwhile. Well-spaced tables and deep carpeting ensure privacy and reduce noise, while the corner private dining room boasts the best seats in the house.
Ah Yat’s traditional Cantonese fare sprinkled with thoughtful Western staples means its menu has something to please everyone’s palate. After being seated, a small dish of guava pickled in salty prune brine whets the appetite, and is a far cry from the usual peanuts you get at Chinese restaurants. There are a total of five menus to peruse: Cordon Bleu, Ah Yat’s tried and true winners; set menus; seasonal/promotional items; a dim sum menu and the main menu. As soups can make or break a Cantonese restaurant, it’s a good thing that Ah Yat’s double-boiled mushroom soup with yellow fungus (HK$60) sets the standard. Intense and bursting with rich mushroom flavours, it both satisfies and anticipates the appetite for more to come. Unfortunately, a number of Ah Yat’s signatures—deep fried crispy chicken (HK$320), abalone treasures (HK$480) and fried rice in clay pot (HK$250)—are good but not outstanding. The chicken leans towards the dry side, the sea cucumber accompanying the abalone is not as tender as it could be, and the fried rice is underwhelming. Yet the abalone itself is marvelous—perfectly succulent after three days of preparation. Walnut cream (HK$42) rounds out the meal with a sweet finish.
An excellent selection of beverages, ranging from Chinese moutai, sake and soju, to wines from the Old and New world—available at all prices points. Do try a Suishin Chonansui Shikomi Junmai Daiginjyo sake from Hiroshima (HK$950), served cold, for a refreshing complement to rice dishes.
Attentive, courteous and full of insider information about how signature dishes are prepared, the restaurant’s manager and his staff ensure that you are well taken care of at Ah Yat.
You pay for the view at Ah Yat, as the tab is around HK$1,000 if you try the signature dishes. And that does not include any fresh fish, shark’s fin or lobster.