Last night I got together with a couple of friends to pay a visit to one of Hong Kong's top Chinese restaurants, Tien Heung Lau (天香樓). This is a very old establishment specializing in Hangzhou cuisine, which is kinda similar to Shanghainese cuisine. I had always known that this place was famously expensive, especially for anything related to hairy crab (大閘蟹), and I relished at the opportunity to finally give it a try.
We started with a pitcher of their aged Shaoxing wine, which has been warmed up. A lot has been written about the quality this vino, but it really is very good and has a very long finish. The fragrance of the wine also lingers in your mouth...
The cold appetizers we started with were vegetarian goose (素鵝) and soy-marinated duck (醬鴨). The vegetarian goose, made from tofu skin, was delicious. The meat of the duck was nice, but too salty for my liking.
For veggie, everyone seems to order the same dish with the salted pork (鹹肉塌窩菜). I am genuinely surprised to see this dish in the middle of summer, as I know that 塌窩菜 is a winter vegetable. But it is something that I love and only find in certain restaurants, so it's great that I am having it. Later on I discover that the restaurant buys large quantities of the stuff in winter, store it and serves it year round, removing the leaves on the outer rim which may not be in the best condition. So you end up paying a premium for having the vegetable out of season, but at least you will be assured of the high quality of the ingredients.
For dessert, the restaurant always serves the glutinous rice balls in fruity fermented rice soup (什果酒釀丸子). It's not bad, and hey, it's free! Nothing's ever cheap at this place so you take the free stuff while you can get it.
Was this meal everything that I had hoped it to be? Almost. The yellow fish was by far my favorite, and the biggest reason to return in the future. I will need another occasion to try out the braised fatty pork (東坡肉), and this will probably be in the fall when hairy crab is in season. Let's see how much they will charge for the crab then...