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Hoi King Heen is tucked away in the basement level of the InterContinental Grand Stanford Hotel, and while this location works for its sister restaurant next door, The Mistral, with its rustic Italian charm, it’s a hit or miss for the Chinese restaurant. If you go early before the place fills up, the restaurant’s elegant, understated décor and underground placement offer a tranquil respite from the busy Tsim Sha Tsui streets. Hoi King Heen is a popular venue for big family dinners, however, and once the restaurant gets busy, the setting becomes a disadvantage: the spacious layout, which offers plenty of space between tables, becomes a mini playground for restless children and flustered parents, and given the commotion, the windowless space can start to feel claustrophobic.
The restaurant’s extensive a la carte menu offers up an impressive array of Chinese dishes, ranging from authentic classics to more innovative culinary creations. The smoked scallop with rose flavour, for example, is a beautifully balanced appetiser. The smokiness is subtle but lends a distinctive layer of aroma to the dish without overpowering the delicate rose flavour. We would have preferred the scallops, which were otherwise perfectly cooked, to be served while still hot, but even slightly lukewarm, it was still a promising start to the meal. The deep-fried soft shell crab with spice and chilli is another excellent seafood starter, with its delicate crunch and fresh, high-quality crab. The restaurant has an excellent selection of poultry dishes. The roasted crispy baby pigeon and roasted crispy chicken are both examples of Chinese classics done remarkably well, with a layer of crispy, flavourful, non-greasy skin over tender and juicy meat. The wok-fried diced beef with mushrooms in wasabi sauce is also worth a try. While we don’t care much for the presentation – the sauce congeals into unappetising globs after a few minutes – the flavours actually work quite well. The sauce has the sweet, slightly tangy taste of Japanese mayonnaise, and the wasabi gives the dish a slight lift without being overwhelming. Finish off your meal with a traditional dessert. The baked egg custard pastry in particular is beautifully done. The pastry is delicately light and flaky while the custard is smooth and richly flavoured without being too sweet or heavy.
There’s a decent selection of wines, champagnes and rice wines, but for those looking to order by the glass, there’s not much in the way of selection. There are only two house wines each for red and white – a Chinese and an Argentinian vintage. Both are drinkable but by no means remarkable.
Service is a bit spotty at Hoi King Heen. The staff seem overly keen on removing barely finished plates from the table, but are somehow nowhere to be found when we want their attention mid-meal. That aside, their manner is very pleasant and they are helpful and knowledgeable when it comes to menu selections.
At HK$600 a head including a glass of wine, Hoi King Heen is an excellent place to indulge in Chinese fine dining without the hefty price tag. The restaurant also has some great lunch sets on offer, ranging from HK$168 to $248 per person.