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Perched on the fourth floor of the Hyatt Regency Sha Tin, the only five-star hotel in the region, Sha Tin 18 has a number of open kitchens for diners to watch the deft execution of different types of food, such as roasted meats and dim sum. With floor-to-ceiling windows to allow for natural sunlight and wood table sets, the space is bright and tidy. The designer has blended in a touch of traditional Chinese elements with the modern interior; for example, the dessert counter facing the entrance is lined with Chinese window lattice on the back and is adorned with teapots and a giant copper pot commonly found in local herbal tea stores. The restaurant also features an outdoor sheltered terrace plus a few private rooms to cater for those looking for more intimate dining experiences.
Other than the restaurant’s renowned signature Peking duck, the menu also consists of an array of Dongguan specialities not that common in other local Chinese restaurants. The Peking duck arrives with a chef showcasing his precise carving skills tableside. It is suggested that we try the skin with white sugar, and pair hunks of breast meat and leg meat with skin with four condiments, namely leeks, cucumber, soy bean sauce and garlic paste before wrapping them all up with steamed pancakes. The paper-thin duck skin is even crispier and more satisfying after dipping the white sugar, with the grease melting on your tongue. The duck meat is not rough in texture but rather delicate and lean, while the leg meat with skin carries more fats and thus richer in flavours. The garlic paste is a bit too strong for our liking and we suggest not putting too much lest it overpower the natural taste of the duck meat. Despite the high quality of the Peking duck, the subsequent two dishes suffer from heavy-handed seasoning. The idea of combining salted fish and fresh fish is commendable, but in reality, the wok-fried garoupa with minced salted fish is overwhelmed by the brininess of the salted fish. We reckon it would have been slightly better if paired with a bowl of rice (unfortunately our waiter did not offer such suggestion when we ordered). Braised baby cabbage with candied Yunnan ham is fresh and sweet. The soup base may be more syrupy than the usual rendition but is still acceptable, though not for those who prefer lighter dishes. Braised rice noodles with codfish and tomatoes is a successful and innovative dish that includes unique combination of ingredients. The rice noodles absorb the subtle tartness of the tomatoes and keep their springy texture, contrasting well with the tender cod meat.
The wine list consists of red and white wines from both new and old worlds in different price ranges and sorted by the grape variety, plus nearly twenty by the glass options. The restaurant abuts on the hotel’s bar Tin Tin Bar, so guests can rest assured that the cocktails are fresh. A limited selection of rum, gin, vodka, armagnac and cognac are also on offer. A waiter-suggested pinot noir Marlborough 2011 from Hunter’s Wines in New Zealand carries fragrant notes of cherry and honey, with a subtle hint of tannin and a long finish, and is especially nice to go with the Peking duck.
Service is definitely hit or miss. While more experienced staff were able to patiently provide thorough explanations for dishes, junior staff generally showed a lack of menu knowledge and the decorum that waiters in a restaurant of this calibre should have.
A meal for two with five dishes and two glasses of red wine costs around HK$1,800. Given the location, the quality of food and the service, we deem the price a tad on the expensive side.