Asking a seasoned traveler for the name of a good Chinese restaurant is like searching online for a custom made shirt. With no chance to feel the hand of the fabric or compare that particular shade of blue you like with your skin tone, the search for right tastes and a healthy blend of ingredients is elusive at best and can often lead to a major disappointment if not a sour stomach. So, it was a rare and welcome discovery to sit down to the five-course near perfection offered up by Chef Chan Yan Tak at Lung King Heen in Hong Kong. Situated in the spectacular Four Seasons Hotel (the largest Four on the planet), this three star Michelin master holds court daily for diners whose adoration for dim sum bring them to the ongoing power lunch scene around the peaceful, spacious and beautifully arranged tables of this stellar restaurant. We passed up the initial invite for lunch so as to be able instead to savor a delicious dinner we will lovingly remember.
Well prepared to feast on a variety of Chef Chan's Cantonese signature dishes, we passed over the objectionable but requisite opening page of twelve shark's fin this and that to make our selection from the not-so-obvious fish and seafood, tofu, vegetable, rice and noodle offerings many diners consider side dishes. Carnivorous reviewers of Lung King Heen have already waxed eloquent about the numerous beef and pork entrees which are a standard in Hong Kong; however, our intention was to ascertain whether or not a globe-trotting vegetarian, vegan or macrobiotic diner could leave feeling healthy and sated without exceeding the credit card limit. Following the complimentary opener "“ a nibble of bean curd floating atop three straight, bright string beans cleverly arranged to reflect the I Ching hexagram for Heaven, a platter of eight small servings of "Crispy Scallops with Fresh Pear" (pictured below) started the meal with sweet slices of fruit bonded to the tender seafood by a thin layer of rich shrimp pÃ¢tÃ©. Numbers play a big role in all of Hong Kong, the land of feng shui and good fortune, where three and eight carry promising significance. The scallop-pair combination was like a fine French pastry and made us giddy with anticipation.
"Fried Rice with Lobster and Seafood" was equally divine; the rich taste of the rice combined well with sweet peas, tiny slivers of carrot delicately mixed with small bites of succulent lobster, prawn and crab. The result was tasty without being too filling, as much a light vegetable dish as one with seafood. From the page entitled "Organic, Vegetarian" we selected the "Five Grain Noodles and Assorted Vegetables", abandoning our gluten-free preference for this special occasion. Both full of flavor and rich, this was as fine a noodle dish as any we'd ever had, the accent on the organic solidly noticeable with each bite. Since most noodle dishes in lesser establishments are often buoyed by water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and Chinese cabbage, the absence of these staple fillers has to be acknowledged.
More familiar with tofu than most other patrons (my family has made our own for four decades), we were eager to try the "Crispy Tofu Sheet Rolls with Vegetables." We'd happily devour this dish, with a bowl of brown rice (not served here) and steamed greens, on a daily basis "“ that is if we could prepare it as well as Chef Chan did. It was exceptionally appetizing and totally enjoyable.
Despite our sense that we'd ordered the right amount to share, we soon realized our dinner would pack well for a four-hour plane ride the next day. Our wish would be graciously granted as the remaining food was taken to the kitchen and boxed for travel. This gave us a chance to sample one of the eight dessert bean or fruit puddings and one of the eight innovative pastries offered on the menu. Accompanied by Fuding Silver Needle Tea, a surprising twist awaited us as we sampled the "Chilled Coconut Pudding with Hasma and Longan." While the "Red Bean Cream with Lotus Seed" was pleasant enough, the Coconut Pudding was truly unusual. It was a wholly unrecognizable taste: a sweet, light custardy soufflÃ© layered between cool agar, somewhere between sparkling aspic and Japanese kanten.
Vegans, vegetarians and macros take note: don't settle for ordinary rice and bean curd just to save money in the great city of Hong Kong. Assuming they sample the beef, pork and shark's fin items on the menu, most people pay $150 – $200 each at Lung King Heen. Calculating that our meal served three people generously, the tab was $50 US per person, and we dined at the only three star Michelin Chinese restaurant in Asia. If that's not great value for money, then my tai chi is full of hungry ghosts.
The surprise ending? Hasma, known for its health-giving properties, are moist, chewy morsels with almost no taste. Hasma is said to be very good for the kidneys, lungs and women's skin as it contains many hormones and has a high lipid content. This is because it is a combination of fat and part of the reproductive area of a white-bellied frog from the north of China. Thus, as the meal ended, we conceded that when searching for healthy food, it just might not be essential to avoid all four-legged creatures that evolution moved out of the water. Astonished that we'd ingested our first amphibious body part, we both left of the same mind, feeling blessed that dinner at Lung King Heen was the best Chinese meal we'd ever had.
I arrived safely in Dalian. I think if I squint, I can see the forbidden coasts of North Korea from here. Only kidding (sort of). Dalian is actually a pretty good looking city at night. Â Very modern and well lit up.Â All the sites you would expect to be blocked, well, are. So much for Tumblr-ing. After all that travel and no dinner I went ahead and ordered some dumplings from room service. Wish me luck?
Remember last year whenÂ I went to Mainland China and Japan? I’m going again"“ leaving on Sunday (and checking out the new Cathay Pacific Seats on my way there). Speaking of which, I should probably start packing, eh?
The primary purpose of my trip to China is for the Young Global Leaders Dalian Summit. I’ll also be in Hong Kong for a few days, Macau for a night (wish me luck), and then I’m off to Japan. In Japan I’ll be in Tokyo a bit, as well as Hakone for some much needed Onsen and likely a day or two in Kyoto.
If you have any tips, want to meet up, want me in to speak at your company or agency, whatever"“ drop me a line.
As always I’ll be blogging along the way, but Twitter is also a good place to hear/see what I’m up to.
Capitalism was long seen as a dirty word in the far eastern reaches of the globe, but in lieu of their own Market revolution China serves as a beacon of commerce and industry the world over where new heroes are emerging in the form of entrepreneurs. One such avenue for the country’s burgeoning business minds to get their big break is via the world’s largest, most lucrative business plan competition otherwise known as CCTV’s Chinese game show, Ying Zai Zhong Guo. Win In China, a documentary produced by Ole Schell and Robert Compton, takes an in depth look at the show’s contestants plucked from an eager crowd of 120,000 impresarios to vie for over $5 Million in investment capital. The film also takes an in depth look at the industrial transformation of the world’s most populous nation as it occurred over the past 30 years, as well as it’s cultural impact. If all of this sounds as enthralling to you as it does to us, we suggest grabbing your tickets for the film’s world premiere taking place June 2nd at New York’s Asia Society. The screening will be preceded by a short talk between Orville Schell, Director of the Center on US-China Relations, and the film’s producers.
On my recent trip through China, I was lucky enough to be a guest at The Luxe Manor hotel in Hong Kong. Even despite the typhoon, I had a very nice stay and would absolutely recommend this hotel to anyone visiting the city — if you want to get away from the main island and stay somewhere a little bit quirky. The hotel is located on Kimberley Road in the very busy Tsim Sha Tsui district in Kowloon, but it’s very much a breath of fresh air amidst the ruckus of shopping, etc on the streets below.
The Manor is a reinterpretation of a European mansion, with lots of mythical character and a very modern twist. It also has all the luxury you would expect, with wireless VoIP Telephones, WiFi, very impressive security keys, flat screens, HD on demand, and the like.
I stayed in a deluxe room (pictured above) and found it to be very comfortable– but the real gem of the hotel are the six themed suites on the top floor, which I was given a tour of. Some were more my style than others, but I applaud them for their creativity. My favorite was the Safari themed room (secret fantasy maybe), which has an intricate lighting system which allows you to lay back on the couch and see a faux sparkling night sky.
More pictures after the jump.
Perhaps we owe it to the age of connectivity or a new generation that are working hard to get the world to notice, but we are starting to hear about obscure fashion and design brands from China. Companies like Warrior have enjoyed years of success in China with relatively no exposure outside of the country. A brand revival project titled Project Re:born is hoping to change all that. The current focus of the project is an old brand called Huili, and the limited edition collection includes a pair of kicks sporting a Chinese colorway, a toy figurine, coffee-table book and a retro blue tracksuit. All the pieces look great and capitalize on the current hot trends. We’re excited to see what else they have in store!
We love Michael Young and ODM‘s watches and we’ve got the blog post to prove it. Now they have joined forces to create the “Zen” SV27-1 Commemorative Watch to honor Hong Kong’s return to China and the innovative brands that have developed from the Hong Kong scene. We don’t know enough about the Chinese political landscape to understand why Hong Kong’s return to China is being celebrated only in the design community, but we do know the watch looks great. Look for these to appear on the wrist of an Olympic Athlete near you.
The Beijing skyline will be the subject of many establishing shots during this summer’s Olympics, but in the years to come all eyes might shift towards Tianjin. BoHai Bay in China’s third largest urban area will be the future home of the 1,174 foot tall SinoSteel International Plaza. Slated to be completed in 2011, it will become the city’s most dominating architectural feature. The towering hexagonal honeycomb structure was designed using an innovative and energy efficient form of climate modeling. It helps to regulate both the temperature and daylight thanks to the variations in the size of each cell’s window. Not content just to scrape the clouds, the complex designed by Beijing’s MAD architects will also feature an adjacent hotel that will have similar eco friendly design.
Ever since Beijing was picked to be the site of the Olympics (which, as we all know, starts on Friday) controversy has ensued. From concerns about pollution to censored web access, issues leading up to the Games are only going to get crispier on this political hotplate. I just got an e-mail from my Brazilian friend Pedro Inoue (a graphic designer who did the splendid work for artist Stephen Doitschinoff’s book), alerting me to an online project he’s co-partner of called Remember Tibet. He’s putting out a request to all creative types to send in any copyright-free work related to the quest for Tibetan freedom — animation, music, T-shirt designs, etc. It’s a sensitive subject that sadly fluctuates from being a hot topic to a cold one and back again, but with China on the international stage this week the issue has never been hotter.
Ben Walters has been busy. He’s traveled across the nation and around the world, before finally calling Shanghai home. In 2007, he turned his focus to the shoe industry, starting ospop. The brand’s first offering are the Tian Lang Trainers, known and loved by millions of blue collar Chinese workers. Like the Warrior Shoes, the Trainers are popular for both their utilitarian nature and iconic design. One Small Point of Pride (ospop) worked closely with the Tian Lang factory to produce a version that stays true to the original design while employing better materials to create a more durable and comfortable shoe. Last fall, ospop released the Skywolf series in three colorways. This summer, the Departure series will introduce an additional six. The kicks can be found in a worldwide network of dealers as well as on ospop.com