Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel
Lower Level 1, 64 Mody Road
Tsim Sha Tsui East
Kowloon, Hong Kong
+852 2721 2111
On my final night in Hong Kong, my siblings wanted to have McDonalds for dinner. Now, there is nothing wrong with the odd late-night Maccas run but when you’re staying in Tsim Sha Tsui and you’re surrounded by a plethora of amazing dining options, WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU WANT MCDONALDS?
Regardless, I went with them to have McDonalds (I didn’t eat anything though). But as soon as we got back to our hotel, I quickly went downstairs to Shang Palace, Shangri-La Hotel’s own chain of Chinese restaurants. The Hong Kong branch, in particular, holds two Michelin stars.
Now, I wasn’t originally planning on visiting a super-fancy restaurant in Hong Kong. But given that I still had Hong Kong dollars to burn and given that this restaurant just so happened to be at the basement of our hotel, I thought to myself, ‘Why the hell not?’
The others had no interest in accompanying me so I had to admit that I felt a bit nervous walking into the restaurant’s front desk to ask if they had a table for a loner like me. However, I didn’t have to worry about feeling self-conscious eating solo at a fine-dining establishment for they were lovely throughout the whole meal.
Shang Palace is all about creating an experience that ‘evokes the grandeur of traditional China.’ They do so by using top quality ingredients in their dishes with a backdrop of ornate décor and attentive service – think Flower Drum. The restaurant also credits chef Mok Kit Keung for its two Michelin stars – not only has the guy won heaps of awards, he has also prepared meals for King Mohammed VI of Morocco and Vladimir Putin (booo).
As soon as I sat down, I was given some welcome tea. I was also given an extensive menu with bling-bling teas (um hello, vintage pu er teas from 1998?) but all I wanted was a simple cup of jasmine tea – which the waitress actually gave to me on the house. Nice.
I was also given some condiments as well as nuts to nibble on. I thought that I was getting pretty good service as it is, so imagine my surprise when they asked me if I would like a newspaper to read while I waited for my food. Now, I’m someone who likes to read at the dinner table (something my mum often chides me for) so naturally, I said yes.
For my amuse bouche, I received some pickles and peaches served on a shiso leaf. Given how rich my food was going to be, I thought they were perfect.
One of Shang Palace’s signature dishes is the crispy lobster with oatmeal. The dish itself is basically a piece of tender lobster is fried before being covered with crushed up ‘oatmeal’ from Singapore before being arranged prettily in a rice paper net.
Only a genius like Mok would have come up with something so simple yet strange, yet the flavours and textures worked so well together. Chemistry, baby, chemistry…
Unfortunately, my main dish wasn’t as mind-blowing. Sure, it wasn’t bad – I mean, who can complain about abalone and scallops – but it was just one of those dishes that you got sick of eating after several mouthfuls. Plus, the vegies kind of hung in there awkwardly.
In hindsight, I should have went for the braised pumpkin cream with bird’s nest and Alaskan crab meat dish (another highlight apparently). However, I had already consumed bird’s nest soup the night before so I wanted to try something different.
By this stage, I was pretty full but I wasn’t going to leave without having dessert. Now, I’m not a huge dessert fan but Shang Palace has a pretty neat dessert menu with plenty of light fruit-based options so the least I could do was glance at the menu! I placed my order to the waiter who then said that he had a small palate cleanser for me…
… by ‘small palate cleanser,’ he meant this beast of a dessert tower that had enough sweets to feed three people!
Obviously I couldn’t eat everything but I did try my best. My favourite were the almond cookies – they were so light and nutty.
Given that my main was just under AUD$50, I was somewhat surprised to see that my dessert was only AUD$7. And it was a bloody fantastic dessert either. Think mango sago pudding at a Melbourne yum cha restaurant, but less sugar and more mango. It was divine.
Overall, I paid just under HKD$700 (AUD$95ish) for three courses. This included the compulsory 10% service charge too. It’s not a cheap meal but given the wonderful service I received and given the quality of ingredients and execution of the dishes, I’d say that it was worth it. And while I didn’t like my main dish so much, I’d say that it was more my fault for ordering the wrong thing rather than the kitchen’s fault. For all we know, the vegies were not awkwardly placed and I was just being a hater.
I’ll be going back to Hong Kong in seven months. I don’t see myself going to Shang Palace on this next trip, not because I don’t want to but because I won’t be staying in Kowloon. Plus, I still have a whole list of eateries to navigate. If I ever go back a third or fourth (or whatever) time though and if we happen to stay at the Shangri-La again, there is no doubt that I’ll be back for the lobster and oatmeal dish.