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Summer Palace

 
At those times when we yearn for a refined Cantonese meal, Summer Palace, the flagship Chinese restaurant at the Island Shangri-La Hong Kong, invariably comes to mind among the choices. And it's been a while since we last visited, not since Chef Leung Yu King was promoted to Executive Chef. So, our visit was long overdue.
 
This one-Michelin starred restaurant has been a favourite with locals and visitors alike since its opening in 1991. Consistent with the Shangri-La hotel brand image, the décor of Summer Palace is classical Chinese grandeur with rich hues of gold and red. Its setting is luxuriant and immaculate – well, palatial, as the name suggests. Clearly, it has stood the test of time.
 
Chef Leung Yu King, who's been plying his culinary skills for over 30 years, has been with the restaurant since its beginning. Under successive head chefs over the years, Summer Palace has garnered numerous awards for its culinary excellence, consistently delivering quality Cantonese cuisine using choice, seasonal ingredients and tried-and-true Chinese cooking methods. With Chef Leung specifically, experimenting with new recipes and exploring ways to combining new ingredients help create new, distinctive flavours, with emphasis on aroma, colour, taste, texture and contrast.
In addition to its full menu for lunch and dinner, Summer Palace is known for its excellent lunchtime dim sum. It also offers a curated selection of fine wines to pair with the food.
 
We started with Crispy Pork Brisket ($268), a favourite of ours. The skin is roasted to a golden wafer, yet the meat remains tender and succulent, its flavour enhanced by a nice mustard seasoning. Next is the Deep-fried Shrimp Toast in Truffle Pesto ($540), which was a real treat. The toast is aromatic and crunchy, the truffle flavour blending well with the taste of the shrimp.
 
What would refined Cantonese dining be without double-boiled soup? Summer Palace serves a wide range of nutritious soups filled with healthy ingredients. Ours was Double-boiled Chicken with Matsutake Mushroom ($350 per person), which tastes delicious as the flavours of the various ingredients percolate into the soup. Another of Chef Leung's signature dishes is Stewed Wagyu Beef Cheek with Our Chef's Special Preserved Bean Paste ($350). The beef is stewed until the meat is tender and practically melts in the mouth. The special bean sauce is savoury and adds a piquant twist to the flavour.
 
For lighter dishes we had Stir-fried Minced Vegetables with Pine Nuts Served with Lettuce ($230), which is refreshing, and Deep-fried Chicken Wing Stuffed with Crab Meat and Onion ($170/ piece), another of Chef Leung's imaginative creations. The combination works surprisingly well, and it's clear a lot of effort goes into preparing the dish. We finished the meal with Fried Rice with Seafood and XO Sauce in a Stone Hot Pot ($340), a real tasty rice dish, and Chilled Sago Cream with Mango Juice and Pomelo ($75).
 
On a visit to Hong Kong, a refined Cantonese meal should be high on anybody’s bucket list. And Summer Palace certainly makes the grade. We highly recommend it.■
 
Island Shangri-la, Level 5, Pacific Place, Supreme Court Road, Admiralty, Hong Kong 
2820 8552

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