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Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Coming from the street, the restaurant is easily accessed by a separate elevator without having to enter the lobby of The Mira hotel. Located on the third floor, this modern Chinese restaurant is a sleek display of geometric shapes, with plush, jade-toned accents and spacious, with high ceilings accentuated with low-set chairs and dramatic contemporary chandeliers. Tables are generously spaced, and large windows look out onto the Tsim Sha Tsui streetscape, offering ample light in the day. A distinctive scent is used throughout the dining room, however, which can be distracting, especially to wine drinkers.
Cuisine Cuisine is about all about Chinese served with a contemporary approach, be it a tweak for sleeker presentation, or more complex innovations in flavour and ingredients.
A good example of this is the crispy carabinero prawn with egg white. Served individually rather than in traditional sharing portions, the Spanish prawn is lightly battered and deep-fried, creating a delicate, translucent film-like layer around the prawn. With only light seasoning, the prawn’s own intense flavours are allowed to shine. The head and body are served separately, atop a bed of egg white, scrambled with stock to create flavourful soupy curds that complement the prawn in flavour, and creates a contrast in texture.
The well-known Sichuan dish of paper-thin pork belly rolls served with garlic and chili sauce has an updated presentation, with batons of cucumber individually wrapped in blanched pork belly slices, served in a neat row. The dipping sauce is well balanced – the tartness of the vinegar and crisp cucumber make it a good appetiser with which to start a meal.
The crispy chicken is textbook perfection, with a flavorsome, crisp, well-rendered skin, and just-cooked meat. The osmanthus honey sauce on the side is an interesting, although not entirely necessary addition.
Less successful are the sautéed Wagyu beef with Japanese chili pepper in XO chili sauce, which lacks, wok hei, the light charring one expects of a stir-fried dish. A marbled Wagyu, which one would presume is the reason behind the significantly higher price tag, could have easily been substituted for a leaner, less expensive beef. A richer taste of beef from a leaner variety would have been beneficial for the balance of flavours overall. The portion also seems a little small for the price.
The honey-glazed barbecued pork (char siu), a standard at most Cantonese restaurants, unfortunately, falls flat. The meat is overly tender and has lost its textural integrity, eating like stiff marshmallows. The caramelised glaze on top is fine but doesn’t do enough to save the meat from its blandness.
The dessert of steamed red date pudding is a wonderful way to end the meal. The flavours of the fruit are deliciously concentrated and the refined smoothness is as elegant as a sticky pudding can be.
The Mira is known for its extensive cellar, and the wine list is impressive. French-heavy, but with interesting interludes from Spain, Italy, and the New World, it has many recognisable names but also cult favourites. There is also a small specialty tea selection, which is brewed with bottled mineral water, although a little more explanation of the teas on the menu would be helpful.
Service with a smile seems to be a missing component of this otherwise presentable restaurant. The staff seems to potter aimlessly through the expansive, elegant space, creating a less-than-professional atmosphere. Dishes are often served without introduction and explanations and suggestions seem forced rather than heartily volunteered.
Dinner for two with specialty tea came to around $1200, which is decent value, although some specialty dishes will put you over budget significantly.