One of the most important errands I had to run while in Hong Kong was to see to the safe posting of Flo’s drone. After a few crashes, he decided it was time to send it to get cleaned up and fixed because its camera wasn’t moving the way it should and it had a few bumps and bruises on its armour. The Drone Clinic happens to be in Hong Kong so we thought it’d be better and more cost-effective to send it off from here.
Just a short 5min walk away from my hotel was the post office. At 10.30am, it was quiet. So I managed to get the parcel registered and posted within a matter of minutes. Then it was back to the hotel to pack my last few bits and bobs before checking out.
I made sure to give myself ample time to get to Hotel Intercontinental where my lunch venue was. According to GoogleMaps, it was about a 10min walk away from GD Hotel. Just as well I left room for any hiccups because at 11.30am, I went down to check out and as soon as it was my turn, the staff who was supposed to attend to me decided that he colleague needed her help checking out the other guest. They got me waiting a good 10min with a curt apology at Minute 8, before taking 20 seconds to check me out. Nice.
Took in the last of Hong Kong’s busy streets as I walked towards Salisbury Road.
And enjoying the little scenes that just screamed ‘Hong Kong!’ – like trees growing with their roots tumbling down from concrete walls.
And just by the harbour stood Hotel Intercontinental. It was a slightly muggy day and as with the two days before, visibility across the harbour wasn’t great.
Lunch was at this Two-Michelin Starred Cantonese Restaurant, Yan Toh Heen. I wanted to try Hong Kong’s Three-Michelin Starred Lung King Heen but it was fully booked. No matter, that can be saved for another time with Flo!
They had thoughtfully laid out a table for me facing the water, with their jade place settings arranged in perfect order. The ambiance of the restaurant calmed me with Chinese Instrumental music quietly playing in the background, and the scenic view stretched out before me.
I was first presented with a small dish of Sesame Candied Walnuts to pick on. These were crazy addictive with their caramel coating shattering with each bite and giving way to the toasty, nuttiness of crunchy walnut and inflections of caramelised vanilla from the white sesame. I had to restrain myself from devouring the lot before my food arrived.
Of course, I had to order the Yan Toh Heen Superior Dumplings. I was advised to eat them from Right to Left beginning with the Steamed King Crab Leg Dumpling with Green Vegetables. This was delicate to the tastebuds and the spinach encased within created some textural contrast.
The Steamed Lobster and Bird’s Nest Dumpling with Gold Leaf was so sweet and so fresh. The thin slice of asparagus that was placed on it was such a minimal touch, yet, what a difference it made by providing that refreshing crunch.
The third was the Steamed Scallop with Black Truffle and Vegetable Dumpling. Once again, chef controlled his seasoning well, allowing the sweetness of the scallop to shine while the hint of earthy truffle was just enough to balance off the crustacean flavour without overpowering it.
Yan Toh Heen also served not one, not two, but SIX types of condiments to go with the food. They had three different types of chilli sauce ranging from mild to super spicy. That orangey-yellow one on the left looks innocent but let me tell you, it was fiery all right! But also damn shiok (inexplicably awesome)! The other three – soy sauce, plum sauce, and vinegar – I didn’t touch.
I also ordered the Steamed Black Truffle, Pumpkin, Assorted Mushrooms and Vegetable Dumplings. This usually comes in a serving of three but the staff kindly agreed to serve (and charge) me two dumplings instead or it might have been too much.
I loved the natural sweetness from the pumpkin and the turnips were cooked to retain a slight crunch. Again, the truffle didn’t threaten to overwhelm the lightness of the flavours in these dumplings.
The little pouches of happiness were all excellently made with fabulously thin, resilient skins that gave way to luxuriant, generous fillings. Overall, they were all seasoned ever so lightly, allowing the freshness and quality of the ingredients to speak for themselves. In fact, I found that there was little need for the sauces.
I had a bowl of Double-boiled Chinese Cabbage with Matsutake and Black Mushrooms Soup to finish. Sweet. Robust. Rich. All from the cabbage and mushrooms which is amazing the intensity of flavour you can get from vegetables alone.
I was thinking about my lunch the day before after this meal and although both Jade Dragon and Yan Toh Heen have been awarded 2-Michelin Stars, they can’t and shouldn’t be compared.
Yan Toh Heen evokes this idea of refinement and subtlety both in its interior and in its food. It is beyond a doubt elegant and classy, but it does not display its grandness in a boisterous manner. Their food pleases the palate without the need for heavy seasoning, and it is in this way that I appreciated how Chef Lau allowed the ingredients to shine.
Jade Dragon on the other hand, is less reserved. From the moment you step in, you see their high ceilings and lush carpets, and you know that this is a place for the well-heeled. Similarly, their food is packed with more punch and flair.
Both restaurants must surely have their own group of followers. Perhaps, just perhaps, Yan Toh Heen may be more for the older, more sophisticated crowd, while Jade Dragon may attract more of the younger up-and-comers. I enjoyed both simply because they were so different even as they offered the same cuisine. They both displayed skill and creativity in their food, yet each had they own distinctive style.
By the way, this meal set me back HKD558.80.
I left Hong Kong with a very happy belly that’s for sure. The ride home was not as bumpy – still a little bumpy but just about bearable. While on the plane, I reflected on my entire trip as short as it may have been. I guess I’m not as timid as I thought I was, and not as fearful of travelling around on my own in a country not too familiar to me. I realise I can have fun being by myself for days at a time even though some things are definitely more fun with a side kick.
I’m glad that Flo encouraged me to take that step to travel alone for my first time. It made me learn that I am stronger, smarter and more determined that I thought myself to be. I say ‘more determined’ because by hook or by crook, I made sure I got to all my dining destinations regardless of circumstances, and I also refused to travel by taxi, sticking to the MTR and my good ol’ trusty feet. I will admit that after lunch at Yan Toh Heen, I had to take a cab to Kowloon Station where I then transferred onto the Airport Express, but that’s because time was tight and I had a plane to catch.
I came home with quite a bit of money leftover, but more than that, I came back feeling enriched and fulfilled. I was made happier still when Flo surprised me just as I left the Arrivals Hall! And off we went for a delicious dinner of SASHIMI!!!!!!