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Located in the basement level of the InterContinental Grand Stanford in Tsim Sha Tsui East, Hoi King Heen blends modern aesthetic with traditional design by use of an glass-encased kitchen, which is only used for special events, and mirror-paneled walls while ubiquitous oriental vases, monochromatic pictures and stone motifs of fishes and dragons keep the décor classic. The lack of window plus the relatively low ceiling may seem claustrophobic to some but the enormous space can compensate. Just as many Chinese restaurants do, elements of woods are used in tables, chairs and cabinets, and the hard surfaces are likely to amplify sound despite the comfortably spaced tables, especially when the restaurant is so popular that it was still packed with customers at a night during a typhoon three.
Executive chef Leung Fei Hung has received various awards for six of his signature dishes and we tried two of them. The steamed garoupa rolls with Yunnan ham arrived first, which needs to be ordered one day in advance. The dish features a wonderful combination of a green cake made with pureed spinach and egg white, prawn paste and mushroom, topped with a roll of garoupa tied with a shred of carrot enveloping a bit of Yunnan ham, in golden yellow sauce made with crab roes and salted egg yolk. Despite the impeccably delicate presentation, the tiny tower broke apart after the first bite, which meant that we had to finish off each ingredient part by part. Each component is well executed, and the star of the dish must go to the fish, which is a mouthful of springy and fresh meatiness. It could have been even better with a little more ham. The steamed crab claw with egg white in hua diao wine is a tad overcooked, giving the egg white a rather rough texture, and lacks the aromatic fragrance and flavour of the Chinese wine, with poorly chopped shallots sitting atop. The fried rice with wagyu beef, egg and supreme soya sauce is also a disappointment, with the portion of beef and egg being so tiny that it is easy to overlook, the texture and the oiliness of the rice grains are acceptable nevertheless. The pan-fried chicken with lemon grass, ginger and preserved mandarin orange peel is served in a deep-fried nest made with Vietnamese spring roll wrappers (unlike typical nests made with potato or taro), together with four chicken meatballs in sweet and sour sauce, which were strangely not mentioned in the menu or by the waiter. While the texture of the chicken is just right, we did think the meatballs were a bit bland themselves without the sauce. We ended the meal with the deep-fried vegetarian eel with black vinegar sauce, which is actually shredded mushroom, though the appearance can be rather deceiving. The crispness of the batter juxtaposes with the softness of the mushroom, yet the flavour of the sauce is so tangy and bold that it may be too much for some palates.
The restaurant has an extensive list of wines and champagne, available in vintage and bottles at prices ranging from HK$380 to over HK$9,000 per bottle, plus a limited selection by the glass, as well as some Chinese rice wine and tea. The sommelier suggested a glass of sauvignon blanc from Fruili-Venezia to pair with seafood dishes, which was nice and refreshing.
We were seated at the corner and thus it was sometimes quite hard to get the attention of the wait staff especially as the busy night progressed. They are quite knowledgeable of the dishes and are able to give recommendations but did not introduce some dishes when they arrived until we prompted. Yet in general, the attitude of the staff is friendly and cheerful and the overall service is satisfactory.
A filling meal for two with tea and a glass of wine is around HK$700 per head. Although some dishes still have room for improvements, it is reasonable value considering the smart setting.