Lung King Heen, Four Seasons, Hong Kong

With a reputation as the best Chinese cook in the world, Chef Chan Yan Tak has a lot of customers who visit with high expectations. When the Michelin guide arrived in Hong Kong 8 years ago, his restaurant Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons received the ultimate recognition of three stars, an accolade it has retained ever since.

Despite the grandeur of its reputation this restaurant has a friendly feel, the staff provide every guest with professional but personal attention and Chef Tak’s passion for traditional but creative cooking is very much evident throughout the menus. With no formal training, Chef Tak’s creations are inspired by family recipes and traditions. The kitchen is known particularly for its exceptional seafood and dim sum.

Located on the fourth floor of the opulent Four Seasons Hotel, this large open-plan dining room is understated and elegant. It is a subtle space in comparison to the hotel’s other award-winning restaurant, Caprice. We sat at a central table, and quickly the restaurant filled up around us- families, friends and business lunches – it is definitely a restaurant for any occasion.

Most local guests choose tea to accompany their meal, so we did the same. The warm fragrant drink cleanses the palate between courses and the delicate taste complements the bold dim sum dishes. A small tasting menu had been prepared for us, highlighting a few of the chef’s specialties, whilst taking my dislike of fish into consideration. First, a few classic dim sum mouthfuls to wake up our tastebuds… each parcel was an explosion of flavour and excitement. The pineapple pork dumpling was the best, a yellow topped pastry (it doesn’t actually contain any pineapple) with a juicy meaty filling.

Also on the table were a few traditional sauces, all homemade at the restaurant. Particularly notable was the XO sauce, which is notoriously difficult to make, and needs a precise balance of components to create the correct taste.

The BBQ meats were perhaps my favourite part of the meal. Melt in the mouth sweet and tender pieces of pork, goose and duck that were each carefully roasted in the dedicated roasting room at the hotel, to attain an addictively good sweet crispiness.

Wok-fried Superior Australian Wagyu Beef Cubes with Morel Mushrooms was a hearty dish. High quality meat and fresh seasonal vegetables were coated in an irresistible sauce. The final savoury dish was a classic Chinese staple. Fried rice with shredded chicken sounds simple, but here it was made to perfection. Comforting and filling, every grain of rice was carefully separated and coated in a tantalizing salty hint; it was tasty and rich without the normal cloying greasiness.

Dessert was a trio of strange and delicious treats. Vibrant green lime pudding with aloe and mint was a light jelly dessert. I appreciated the lightness of the jelly though didn’t quite understand the flavouring. We also tried Osmanthus Jelly, a typical floral jelly that was intriguing and delicious; ideal at the end of a meal.

Lung King Heen translates to ‘view of the dragon’, and I was pleased to find the food is every bit as majestic as the name suggests. This Chinese cuisine is fit for royalty but the staff make everyone feel welcome, and it is that unusual balance that makes this 3-Michelin star establishment so special and unique.

More information and book a table at Lung King Heen here.

Caprice, Four Seasons, Hong Kong

The best restaurants in Hong Kong are located inside luxury hotels and the Four Seasons has two of the finest in town. I was lucky to eat at both during my trip; truly different but equally memorable dining experiences.

Caprice was opened by a team from the prestigious Le Cinq in Paris and quickly received two stars from the Michelin guide. The outstanding service and immaculate French cooking soon earnt head chef Vincent Thierry a third star – the ultimate accolade. When current chef Fabrice Vulin took over in 2013 the restaurant went down to two once again, but remains known as one of Hong Kong’s most celebrated eateries, and for good reason.

The grand dining room features opulent chandeliers and beautifully crisp white dressed tables. The open plan kitchen adds some drama to the room; I was particularly impressed to see all the chefs wearing tall white hats as they worked. We sat at a lovely table overlooking the harbour, and with floor to ceiling windows the room was wonderfully light even on a cloudy winter’s day.

Champagne was the perfect start to our French feast. We were served a variety that had more of a savoury taste as to complement our opening dishes best. Jerusalem artichoke veloute with beef tongue mille-feuille was a mouthful of heaven – creamy and subtle soup with a hint of meat, just to add a little salty seasoning.

Lunch guests can opt for the reasonable ‘set menu’ that offers two courses for £40 or three for £45. Despite the low price point there is still plenty of choice and variety, but to try the showstopper dishes it is best to pick from the à la carte. Everything sounded divine, with a noticeable inclusion of seasonal delicacies, such as Périgord black truffles.

Potato Gnocchi with beef and truffle consommé and colonnata pork toast was my ideal starter, light yet rich in flavour. The crystal clear consommé was poured over the delectable soft gnocchi and topped with shaved truffle. Poached duck foie gras was a great choice in the unusually chilling weather; a comforting and luxurious piece of velvety foie gras with Japanese inspired Daikon radish, black truffle and duck consommé.

For main course I ordered the Caprice signature dish, Caramelised Pigeon Breast with Moroccan spices and couscous style vegetables. It was the tenderest pigeon I have ever tasted, with a thin crisp skin, and seasoned beautifully with an array of fragrant spices. Often I find pigeon chewy but this meat melted in the mouth. Vegetables were served on the side, a pretty little accompaniment, dressed in an aromatic herbaceous jus. For seafood lovers the Royale Langoustine à la Plancha was a regal dish. Plump peach-coloured langoustine pieces sat amongst a pool of vibrant green watercress coulis and are sprinkled with Kristal caviar… it was almost too handsome to eat.

Struggling to pick just two desserts from the list of tempting recipes the waiter surprised us with a third. An exciting prospect, but my stomach groaned in protest at even more food. Each was as flawless as the next, but we both favoured the Passion Fruit and Victoria Pineapple soufflé with exotic sorbet, a tropical warm pudding with a light springy texture. Crispy Feuillantine with creamy Macae chocolate, Tanariva and Guanaja Chantilly was the showstopper in terms of presentation. Wonderfully assembled, hovering above the plate on thin chocolate rings and decorated with frozen drips of chocolate; it was a true work of art. A little less classic was the Grand Cru Chocolate Sphere with Agen’s dried plum marmalade and black truffle. This innovative dessert was too decadent for me, but brilliant nonetheless. A dense mousse with a strong truffle perfume, encased in a shiny chocolate layer and covered with gold leaf and truffle ornaments.

After travelling for four months and adapting to local food and specialties, I relished the French flavours and expertise at Caprice. This remarkable restaurant was a highlight of my time in Hong Kong and the best example of French cooking I have tasted outside of the country itself.

More information and book a table at Caprice here.

Motif, Four Seasons Tokyo at Marunouchi

Motif, the new restaurant at Four Seasons Marunouchi, offers guests a menu of luxurious classic French dishes with a Japanese twist. The cuisine is a collaboration between head chef Hiroyuki Asano and culinary advisor chef Hiroshi Nakamichi.

There are three dining spaces to suit casual and formal occasions, at any time of day. The entire venue was designed by renowned architect Andre Fu, and features more than 200 pieces of custom made furniture, lighting and screens. I enjoyed dinner in ‘The Social Salon’; a comfortable but sophisticated room to spend the evening.  Guests can choose from a range of decadent tasting menus or opt for the seasonal a la carte specialities.

To start we chose a couple of the lighter dishes. The recommended Seasonal Vegetables with Truffles was a fresh and simple appetiser cooked in a buttery sauce and topped with just-shaved black truffles. It was soft and subtle on the palate, as is the case with a lot of food in Japan. I chose the green salad with soy dressing, which was refreshing with a hint of bitterness.

After a healthy start we decided on rather more indulgent main courses. I couldn’t refuse the meat dish of the day, wild boar from nearby city Nara. The tender meat was cooked to perfection, sitting in a puddle of rich shiny red wine reduction jus (a display of immaculate French cooking skill). The meat was paired with unique Asian flavours, blackened radish and Japanese mushroom. Our waiter also insisted on us ordering the chef’s signature; Skate wing fillet Meuniere in a Grenoble style, which arrived at the table in a pan, still sizzling in a burnt butter sauce. The fish fillet fell off the soft bone easily, and was absolutely delicious with the creamy nutty sauce.

Dessert was the ultimate marriage of French style and Japanese flavour. The chocolate fondant was as good as any I have tried in Europe, a blissfully gooey centre encased in a soft dense cake. This was paired with green tea ice cream and soy sauce flavoured rice crackers. Though I like drinking green tea I found the ice-cream, powder and foam too intense, overpowering the chocolate a little too much. For a lighter pudding go for the Pear gelee with sherbert and rhubarb jam, a palate cleansing jelly.

After sampling so much Japanese food in Tokyo I was pleased to dine at Motif and I relished the rich French recipes. The produce in Japan is so superior to many other countries and this was particularly evident in the meat and fish we enjoyed at the Four Seasons Tokyo.

More information and book a table at Motif here.