Dim sum at Michelin three star Lung King Heen — Photo courtesy of Katie Dillon
The anonymous Michelin inspectors descended on Hong Kong to prepare for the release of Asia's second Michelin Guide, Tokyo being the first, in 2009. The European fine dining guide, often leaning toward French restaurants, awarded a number of stars to Hong Kong's Chinese restaurants of varying styles and price ranges, using their time-tested methodology. Though there were concerns about a European guide grading often misunderstood Cantonese and other Chinese cuisines, the restaurants in the list below are worthy of their 2012 red book nods.
Lung King Heen: Chef Chan Yan Tak is at the helm of Lung King Heen, the world's first Michelin three star Chinese restaurant, in the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. Chef Chan has lived in Hong Kong his entire life, starting his career in the kitchen in his early teens, out of necessity and without formal training. Dim sum is steamed to order, live seafood is plucked from a tank in the kitchen, and the occasional gold leaf or other glamorous accent applied to already gorgeous dishes. Signature offerings include wok-fried prawns with dried chilli and shallots, barbecued pork buns and abalone puffs. Lucky inspectors enjoyed the view and cuisine at Lung King Heen 12 times prior to awarding the modest chef 3 stars. MTR: Central.
Bo Innovation: This Michelin two star restaurant serves up what is described as ground-breaking, molecular or modern Chinese in a modern space that is almost totally void of traditional Chinese decor. Guests order off of set menus, but signature dishes include smoked quail’s egg with taro crust topped with caviar and hairy crab soufflé with aged Jiangsu vinegar. MTR: Wan Chai.
Lei Garden: This restaurant chain has locations all over Hong Kong with most receiving one Michelin star. The Mong Kok location boasts two stars. Lei Garden is an upscale but still family-friendly place to try dim sum. Well-loved XO sauce (spicy Cognac seafood sauce) was also developed by Lei Garden in 1981. Mong Kok location MTR: Mong Kok.
Shang Palace: Set in the luxurious Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel, traditional dark woods and silk tapestries decorate this popular Michelin two star Cantonese restaurant. Try the suckling pig trio or double-boiled chicken soup with cordyceps flower. Shang Palace, popular for business lunches and families on Sundays, re-opens in September 2012 after renovations. MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui.
Ye Shanghai: For slightly-modernized Shanghainese favorites (like drunken chicken) in a dimly lit, posh environment, head to Michelin two star Ye Shanghai in Kowloon's Marco Polo Hotel. There's also a location in Pacific Place mall on Hong Kong Island. MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui.
Ming Court: Go for Cantonese served up in a contemporary atmosphere, in line with the rest of the trendy Langham Place Hotel, and the wine cellar featuring over 400 wines from all over the world. Though there is an extensive list of shark's fin and abalone choices, the chef's favorites include marinated pig’s knuckles in loh-sui sauce and stir-fried diced wagyu beef with black truffles and pumpkin. MTR: Mong Kok.
Beef tenderloin puff and tiger prawn, bamboo shoot dumpling — Photo courtesy of Man Wah at Mandarin Orientlal Hong Kong
Man Wah: Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong's signature Cantonese restaurant, Man Wah, received a Michelin star in the most recent guide. The impressive beef tenderloin puff with black pepper sauce, wrapped in 96 layers of puff pastry, tops the menu as the most popular order. Man Wah is also one of the only restaurants in Hong Kong that will bake egg tarts to order and has been a local favorite for decades. MTR: Central
Tim's Kitchen: Set up like a private kitchen without fancy table cloths and decor, Tim's Kitchen in Sheung Wan, serves up Cantonese fare that locals rave about. There's a menu, but consulting with the chef in advance is your best bet. Popular orders include salt and pepper crab claws and fried birds' nest. Bring your own wine. MTR: Sheung Wan.
Tim Ho Wan: Go early or be prepared for a wait. Tim Ho Wan is a tiny place (have your Cantonese-speaking friends in tow) that was opened by a former chef at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong. Because two people can easily eat dim sum for under $20 USD, this is known as the cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in the world. Order the baked buns (bao). MTR: Yau Ma Tei.
Din Tai Fung: Ranked the number one restaurant in Hong Kong by TripAdvisor, Michelin one star Din Tai Fung now has branches all over the world. Diners enjoy their Shanghai steamed dumplings (xiao long bao), open kitchen, airy dining room and quick service. MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui.
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