The Excelsior is gearing up to celebrate its 45th anniversary next year, and there’s little doubt that at least one generation of Hong Kongers have probably eaten here. Located on the second floor of the hotel, Yee Tung Heen is a superb example of Cantonese fine dining, combining the history of the hotel and the Causeway Bay location with a new and innovative sensibility towards the cuisine embodied by Chinese Executive Chef Wong Wing Keung.
The décor is dramatic, with a contemporary artistic bamboo pattern in red and black leading through to floral-patterned partitions, which create five separate dining rooms and disguise the fact that this is a large restaurant (200 covers). There’s an elegant tea counter at the restaurant’s entrance where you can choose from a range of premium tea, though we made our choice at the table. I went for a white tea – Fragrant Luk on Blend, one of several bespoke blends on sale. This one was a “golden, sublimely scented infusion” which is “good for reducing body heat and restoring calmness of mind.”
The restaurant has won a lot of awards in recent years, including being a recommended restaurant in the Michelin Guide Hong Kong & Macau 2015, one of Hong Kong’s Best Restaurants from 1997 to 2016 by Hong Kong Tatler and one of Hong Kong’s 100 Top Tables by the South China Morning Post. The menu is huge, and though you could simply have a dim sum lunch (simply doesn’t do it justice of course), the a la carte menu runs to 14 pages, and includes several dishes which have their own awards.
As well as Chinese Executive Chef Wong Wing Keung, there are, of course, other chefs who deserve praise in the Yee Tung Heen kitchen, including Chef Yiu who created some of these award-winning dishes and won the top award at the HKTB Culinary Awards 2016, and Chef Tam, the Dim Sum Chef.
We tried one of these after our opening dish of steamed twin gold fish dumplings – a twin mushroom platter which won a Gold with Distinction Award at the Hong Kong Tourism Board 2015 Best of the Best Culinary Awards. In fact, the award is more of a mouthful than the dish. The two mushrooms were stuffed, but light in both texture and flavour, and exemplified the subtle approach of the chef.
All of the dishes we tried were beautifully prepared and presented. Another highlight was the steamed rice roll with tiger prawn, kale and beetroot dumpling served with prawn oil soya sauce. [Pictured]
This “symbolises the Chinese folklore of dragons bringing good fortune to people”. The steamed rice roll was wrapped with fresh shrimp paste, tiger prawn, and crab roe and was both delicious and very light, perfect for lunch.
It’s often the case that we marvel at the lengths chefs go to in order to create their effects. Take the simple braised rice with crab meat and spring onion. The pale green colour of the rice came from allowing the cooked spring onion to be pureed and then used in the cooking of the rice, staining it and retaining the flavour. The flavour was delicate, the colourful effect on the plate worthy of comment, and made us think of the way colour plays so much a part in our appreciation of food.
This well-known restaurant deserves a return visit. Great food and service, and some innovative cooking.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday lunch 12pm-2.30pm; Sunday and public holidays lunch 10.30am – 3pm; Dinner served daily from 6pm – 10.30pm.
+(852) 2837 6790