Tried & Tested

Restaurant review: Shè, Hong Kong

24 Jan 2019 by Michael Allen

Background

Shè, which opened on 18 December, is now the third new Hong Kong restaurant I have reviewed recently whose name the restaurant’s PR had to teach me how to pronounce. I’ve tried pizza at Kytaly and French-Japanese fusion at Écriture (which, like Shè, also opts for a trendy accent over its “e”). The name is the Mandarin pronunciation of the Chinese character “舍”, which means a house or lodging place for guests. The restaurant’s management chose the name to invoke a place of “rest, tranquility and hospitality”, according to its marketing material.

Where is it?

In a very Hong Kong location: buried in the middle of a high-end shopping mall. First, you need to go to the third floor of the IFC Mall, which is easily accessible by MTR via Hong Kong Station on the Tung Chung Line and Airport Express Line (you can also walk to Hong Kong Station from Central Station via an underground walkway with people movers). From there, you need to walk through luxury retailer Lane Crawford, and Shè is somewhere towards the back. I took a wrong turn though and had to ask two different Lane Crawford staff for directions before locating the place. One of the staff couldn’t speak English, so some more signage to direct diners to the venue would be a good idea.

The venue

Once you’re there, though, you’re rewarded with an impressive view of the Kowloon side of Victoria Harbour, as well as the newly opened Central–Wan Chai Bypass. Having a restaurant located above a bypass may sound like a hideous concept, but this particular infrastructure project is actually pretty cool to look at…

The outdoor patio is bigger than the indoor space, with 65 seats compared to 40 indoors. There are space heaters to keep you warm in winter…

The interior design is by Thai company Dot Line Plane. The indoor space is not enormous, but the terrace definitely makes up for that. When you enter the restaurant, there is a five-seat bar to your left…

…which serves a range of cocktails, including a Geisha Punch of Hendricks gin, Elderflower liqueur, maraschino liqueur, and organic apple juice.

The food

Shè says it offers a “health-conscious and contemporary interpretation of local Chinese cuisine”, so I was looking forward to enjoying some Hong Kong favourites minus the postprandial guilt of having eaten meat of mysterious origins and dishes fried in oil of questionable quality. Shè’s siu mai dumplings, for example, are made with pork from Kurobuta pigs (also known as Berkshire pigs), a rare breed of swine native to England’s Royal County of Berkshire. Most local dim sum joints tend to use any old pork obtained from the local wet market, where it’s pretty common to see vendors chain smoking cigarettes inches from their produce.

I was there during lunchtime, though the restaurant had arranged a dinner tasting for me so I could try a more extensive range of dishes. However, Shè does offers a lunch bento menu with three options: a business lunch for HK$288 (US$36.7), a dim sum box for HK$268 (US$34.2) and a vegetarian box for HK$268 (US$34.2).

We started off the meal with some appetisers, including Rose Gold Har Gao…

…Kurobuta Pork Siu Mai with Caviar…

…Baked Barbecued Pork Buns…

…and Crispy Fresh Abalone with Salt and Pepper…

The appetisers were followed by some “small bites”, including crispy Tofu with Salt and Pepper…

…and Yin Yang Style Salted Egg Yolk and Horseradish Prawns…

It’s easy to overdo the wasabi on wasabi prawns, but the balance here was just right, incorporating the flavour of the wasabi while avoiding that painful sinus-burning sensation.

After the small bites came the Shè Signature Fish Maw Nourishing Pot (which can be ordered with either wagyu beef or fresh lobster). For those not well-versed in Chinese cuisine: a fish’s maw is its swim bladder. Many Chinese regard it as a delicacy whose health benefits include improving your complexion and blood circulation. The dish is also popular during Chinese New Year, which is just around the corner.

Being extravagantly expensive at HK$888 (US$113.18), this dish must be geared more towards tempting the local and Chinese crowd to splurge in the run up to Chinese New Year rather than the average business traveller.

Admittedly, the soup did taste pretty good. The maw itself is relatively flavourless but in no way unpleasant. I feel that the psychological aspect of eating this dish and believing it is doing you good is one of its key draws, much like shark fin soup. Unless you have money to burn and are convinced by fish maw’s merits, you can probably skip this particular dish.

After the fish maw came the mains, including Honey Glazed BBQ Iberico Char Siu…

…Signature Wok-Fried Supreme Lobster Noodles… 

…and Stir-Fried String Beans with Spotted Shrimp…

There was a good selection of desserts, but being pretty stuffed already, I opted for the light Goji Chrysanthemum Crystal Cake, a local jelly dessert that I’m quite fond of.

Verdict

Shè’s proximity to the Airport Express means that, if you live in Hong Kong, it’s an ideal spot to meet with clients either just after their arrival in the city or just before their departure. Similarly, if you’re a business traveller on a day trip to the city for work, you can take in some great views of the harbour without having to stray far from the Airport Express, meaning you can spend longer savouring your meal.

The food was certainly of good quality, but I’ve eaten tonnes of siu mai, har gow (prawn dumplings) and crispy tofu during my time in Hong Kong, and I find it difficult to distinguish one high-end Chinese restaurant’s dim sum and other dishes from another’s. There are some nice tweaks to the classic designs like adding black caviar to the siu mai, and adding lobster to wok-fried noodles, but this is hardly groundbreaking stuff. Still, for quality Chinese food served in a comfortable and (especially if you’re on the terrace) quite beautiful setting, this is a good choice.

Fact file

  • Hours: Sunday to Thursday: 10am to 11pm; Friday to Saturday: 10am to 12am
  • Price: HK$300-HK$400 (US$38.2-US$51) per guest (significantly more if you splurge on the fish maw)
  • Location: Portion A of Shop 3025-3026 & 3031-3066, Level 3, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong
  • Contact: +852-2110-0153; gaiagroup.com.hk
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