Thursday, December 16, 2010

Shang Palace (香宮) - ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Michelin 1 Stars


   This restaurant is in the eyes of many locals purely there to cater for tourists, with a menu especially aimed at Westerners.  Shangri-la hotel restaurants tend to radiate that impression to diners.  On one of those weird nights when we desperately needed to secure a table quickly for an impromptu friends gathering, we had in our minds at least 4-5 more Tsim Sha Tsui restaurant options and under normal circumstances we wouldn’t  have set foot into here… but we just couldn’t get a reservation at any of our first preferences.  Feeling lost and with urgency we gave it a go calling up Shang Palace anyway, especially knowing that they do carry some sort of 20% Off Credit Card promotion…

A shiny Gold Buddha greeted us out front, staff girls were cladded in traditional skimpy cheung sam and there’s an excessively exaggerated mainland Chinese theme leading from the hallway all the way into the main dining hall,  its little wonder people naturally associate this to a ‘gweilo’ oriented Chinese restaurant, as it does strike resemblance to those found in overseas Chinatowns.   The irony?   Island Tang (港島廳) with its Shanghai Tang apparel store related heritage (which is totally foreigners oriented!) and even the local foodie’s favourite Hoi King Heen (海景軒) or Spring Moon, are also similarly designed using that scheme of exotic pseudo-Shanghainese clashed together with a Colonial-HK style design layout and inundated with decorations for maximum visual impact.  Yet, no one has labelled those others to be Western oriented dining destinations. In reality they all are to a certain degree, even the similar mixed proportion of local and overseas clientele can be spotted in any of these restaurants.   Island Tang in particular was a relatively unknown entity and filled with Japanese, Westerners and Chinese alike already before Michelin awarded it a 1 Star in the 2010 Guide, and then the locals followed suit to dine there for comparison. In reality the food served over there are quite similar to China Club in my opinion.

Each of us ordered a dish of our own choices, I’ll let you decide on whether the offerings here belongs to the foreigners-only category, or perhaps a mixture of everything to cater for anyone coming through the door, as any International City should.   *This visit was during the time when it was still a Michelin 2 Star restaurant, before it recently lost a star in last week’s 2011 Guide.

Appertiser 1:  Marinated Tofu
Good starter, but a little niggardly for 6 people..

Appertiser 2:  Braised Peanuts
Wet and moist, I sometimes miss this..

Tea of White Peony was excellent ~ ($20 per head.)

Fried Wonton (錦鹵脆雲吞) -
This is found in many local HK or Macau restaurants, but the sauce version here isn’t the oldest type served at  美都餐室 or 澳門六記, but a hybrid modernised one with barbequed pork and assorted seafood. Made very well here ~ 8/10

Steamed Fresh Chicken with Spring Onions (霸王葱油雞 - 新鮮雞) -
At $178 for half-a-chicken, the same dining group were all ooing and awing over the much better texturing, seasoning and intense fresh chicken taste this carried over the mediocre 18-Flavours chicken we all shared at The Chairman - which that costed an unheard of $158 for a measly quarter-chicken of inferior quality.  I think all of us were a little surprised by this stage ~9.5/10

Chili Beans Paste

Pan-fried Minced Pork with Salty Fish (馬友鹹魚煎肉餅) -
Someone wanted a homely dish, and this passed-with flying colours.  The pork meat taste with the right proportion of salted fish was spot on, on top of that this had a great texture without being too fluffy or dense.  If only GOLD could get their burger patty so right… a simple but stunning dish ~

Deep-fried Mashed Taro Stuffed with Slices of Roasted Duck (香酥荔蓉火鴨脯) -
I have always thought this should be a dynamite dish with Western diners, but surprisingly one hardly see them ordering this, as most aren’t familiar with what to expect from it?  With the unexpected great performance from the above two dishes, we naturally held high hopes with Shang’s rendition of this, but it was not meant to be.  There wasn’t much wrong with it, except that the duck skin could be crispier and the overall dish not so elegant (read: bland) in taste  ~ 

Wok Fried Kurobuta Pork with Mixed Mushrooms (什菌抄黑豚肉) -
Finally a stir fry, this had a few typical capsicums for colour and crunchiness, mushrooms and surprisingly bamboo shoots.   The veggies were nice, but the pork was a little dry, about similar quality to Noren’s pork rice slices as a comparison  ~ 6/10

Braised Pork Spare Ribs Shanghai Style for 6 People (滬上阿叔排骨) –
After 2 stunning dishes, the next 3 were slightly lacklustre although by no means flawed.  They just needed to make this either taste more of the dark-braised sauce or original pork flavour, not half way in between and characterless  ~ 6.5/10

Poached Young Cabbage and Bean Curd Skin in Fish Stock (濃魚湯鮮腐竹浸娃娃菜) -
Initially, I was thinking why anyone would order this as its $115 and these veggies costs next to nothing.  In hindsight I ‘m glad my friend did because the main attraction here is the concentrated fish stock that was so sweet and compacted in fish essence, none of any fish soup or stock dishes I’ve eaten in other Shanghainese or Cantonese restaurants comes close.  This was a very ethically prepared and near enough perfect executed dish ~ 9.5/10

White Rice -
Cooked to the correct doneness and aromatic, also served hot

Sauteed Assorted Rice with Crab Meat, Egg White, Wolfberries & Mushrooms (宮廷兩儀飯) -
One of Shang’s signature dishes, meant to be plated like a Yin-Yang symbol. I was flabbergasted when I saw how this was presented to the table as it was so uneven and the ‘eyes’ were just a spoonful of the other coloured rice – rather than being more thoughtful.  Eg. the white eye could be a scallop or a pile of pinenuts, and the black eye black sesame or black beans, etc.  The darker black rice side was also quite salty, although generally this rice was quite tasty apart from its 2 obvious flaws ~

Fried Doughnuts dusted with Sugar (鳳凰沙翁) -
These were served nice and hot, and no trace of oiliness ~ 8/10

Food was surprisingly great in some dishes, but there were dud ones too.
It might not have as much potential as some newer upcoming restaurants, but at least the majority of our food were cooked to a high enough standard, and even disregarding the 20% discount turned out to be nearly half the price of some other starred or recommended restaurants we’d visited.  


Price: $250 per person
Free Wi-Fi:  Yes
Score:  ★★★★☆☆

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sat - 12:00pm - 23:00pm
Sun            -  10:30am - 23:00pm

Address: 尖沙咀麼地道64號九龍香格里拉大酒店地下1層
(G/F, Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel, 64 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui)

Ph: 2733 8754


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