Located just below the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong on the 101st floor of ICC in Kowloon, the main aesthetic attraction at Dragon Seal is its stunning views of both the Hong Kong skyline, as well as a birds-eye view of Kowloon. The restaurant is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, and although most seats do have a view, naturally the tables positioned right along the windows are the most desirable. However, be warned that if seated at one of these highly desired tables, your meal may be interrupted by a constant stream of other diners who will stand uncomfortably close to your seat in order to take pictures of the view. Unlike most other Chinese restaurants, the tables at Dragon Seal are designed for smaller parties, giving the dining room a more formal atmosphere, which the beautiful plateware and silk tablecloths reinforce.
Dragon King Group is famous in Hong Kong for its excellent Cantonese cuisine, with outlets everywhere from World Trade Centre in Causeway Bay to Shanghai. Dragon Seal is the group’s most high-end venture yet, and the million-dollar views here are complemented by an equally pricey menu filled with abalone, bird’s nest and other premium ingredients such as wagyu beef and Alaskan snow crab. We start with more humble basics: a plate of barbecued pork with honey (HK$120) and half a crispy salt-grilled chicken (HK$250). The char siu is a delicious plate of perfectly cooked pork: with an excellent fat to meat ratio, the pork is slightly charred around the edges to give it that smoky and slightly bitter flavour, which is then offset by just the right amount of honey. The crispy chicken is more disappointing: the skin is a bit too thin and not nearly crispy enough. The meat itself is flavourful but as the name suggests, the dish in its entirety is definitely salty and needs to be accompanied by a bowl of white rice. Moving onto some seafood, we try a casserole of sautéed crab meat with vermicelli (HK$200). Again, this does not live up to its promise, as the proportion to crab meat to vermicelli is low and the dish itself is dry and unappetising. Thankfully, the meal is saved by what came next: a signature poached, steamed and crispy rice with shrimp. While the English name is somewhat confusing (locals will be more familiar with the Chinese name pao fan
), this is essentially rice served in a boiling casserole pot of seafood soup that is filled with shrimp, scallop, vegetables and coriander, topped with deep-fried rice (HK$180 per portion). This is one of the best dishes of the evening, and although there is not too much rice for it to be a substantial dish, the wonderfully flavoured soup goes down a treat, especially in winter evenings. To finish, we try the mysteriously named “two-coloured pastries” (HK$45): this turns out to be a silky almond and coconut panna cotta served in a cold soup made of black sesame, a mild and delicate end to the meal.
The red wine selection at Dragon Seal is impressive for a Chinese restaurant. Those with the budget can choose from a selection of Bordeaux including a 1982 Margaux (HK$19,800) or a 1982 Lafite Rothschild (HK$68,000). White wines, however, are much more limited but the iced Riesling from Tasmania, the Gewurztraminer from Alsace and the Gavi from Italy should all go nicely with Cantonese cuisine. Whiskies are also well-represented as are Chinese moutai and yellow rice wines, which includes a 50-year moutai from Guizhou and a 20-year rice wine from Gu Yue Long Shan.
When you can get the staff’s attention, the service at Dragon Seal is top-rate: friendly, efficient and knowledgeable about the menu. However, getting their attention is not always easy, there were a few instances when the entire dining room seemed to be emptied of waiters, with only a few servers – who only collect and hand out dishes, rather than take orders - floating around.
A meal for two with five dishes and no wine will cost about HK$1,200. Considering no live seafood or other delicacies were ordered, this is not cheap. But then again, with a view like the one at Dragon Seal, paying through the nose is not unexpected.