We started our first full day in Hong Kong with Michelin-starred dim sum. As you do. And as it was a public holiday, Man Wah Restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental was serving its full weekend dim sum lunch menu although it was only Wednesday. How very nice! So we took our lovely window seats (excellent view from the 25th floor), popped open a bottle of the delightful Ruinart blanc de blancs, and set about ordering most of said full weekend dim sum lunch menu…
Screenshot from the website, conveniently featuring the table we were sat at!
Our view over the “Fragrant Harbour” to Kowloon; note well-timed passage of the red-sailed traditional Chinese junk.
Our friendly maitre d’, Mr Richard Leung, very much added to the excellence of our Man Wah experience. Richard took the time to explain all the dishes’ ingredients, note which sauces went with which dumplings, and generally give us an insight to Hong Kong cuisine. He’d previously worked at Flower Drum in Melbourne and it was interesting chatting to him about how the Chinese restaurant scene has developed in Melbourne and Sydney. I told Richard I had a website and would give Man Wah an excellent review – so if you go there, please let him know you read about him as I promised!
We ate all of the page below, minus the Assorted Platter. There are obviously cheaper dumplings to be had in HK – these were AUD$12-15 per basket of four – but the quality & luxury of ingredients, the totally stunning restaurant setting, and the five-star silver service made this unexpectedly one of the best value-for-money meals (if we don’t count the French champers…) we had on the trip.
Tiger prawn & bamboo shoot dumplings and Siu mai with tobiko. The translucent har gao skins were so delicate they were like eating fairies wings (or so I’d imagine).
Conpoy (dried scallop) & vegetable dumpling topped with a goji berry for good eyesight, as Richard explained.
Richard also explained that the addictive red chunky sauce
we I ate three bowls of was proper Hong Kong XO sauce made with dried scallops, dried prawns, ham, garlic and chilli. Cheaper bottled versions use too much chilli and not enough seafood, said Richard. I was hugely tempted to ask Richard for a take-away container, but I didn’t think Australian Customs & Border Protection would be best pleased re: preserved animal products.
This was one of the winning dishes of the whole holiday: Alaskan king crab dumpling with winter melon & supreme broth. Once bitten, the giant dumpling spilled open to reveal a huge quantity of silky white crab meat, which mixed beautifully with the broth to make it even more supreme. Apparently the other thing was winter melon – I thought it was a piece of fried beancurd skin. It was inoffensive, whatever it was.
Vegetable dumpling with brown fungus & yellow fungus and Mushroom dumpling with black truffle. (And my second full bowl of house-made XO sauce.) I think the truffled ones are contenders for my personal Best Dumpling award.
So… Din Tai Fung’s xiao long bao in Sydney are pretty special, but Man Wah’s get the gong. Individual baskets so you don’t break them! And superfine flowers of carrot on the bottom of each one so they don’t stick to the individual baskets! That’s got to occupy a large amount of some poor sous chef’s time.
A superlative Shanghainese soup dumpling with minced pork.
Having eaten all the above – plus BBQ pork buns, which I failed to photograph but were of course the best BBQ pork buns ever – we then turned to other pages of the menu, just in case there was still room (NB: there is always room for more dim sum). We couldn’t not have the Beef tenderloin puffs with black pepper sauce after Richard told us they were a signature dish. The pastry is rolled out and folded 96 times. NINETY SIX TIMES. Four folds, then roll and turn, then another four folds, then roll and turn, 22 more repetitions if my sums are right.
Imagine the nicest, richest beef stew you’ve ever eaten, encased in the lightest, crispiest pastry you can possibly imagine. That’s a Michelin-starred Man Wah black pepper beef puff.
Our last dish was from the cheung fan page of the menu. A whole page of rice noodle rolls! I could have easily ordered all the different types, but was very restrained just with the scallop & asparagus, which were so prettily presented on what appeared to be a made-for-purpose platter.
Third personal bowl of XO sauce. I treated it as a side dish rather than a sauce.
We drank endless cups of jasmine tea and declared we were too full for pudding… then Richard came out with a surprise for The Other Birthday Girl and I! Someone had mentioned our Upcoming Auspicious Days when making the booking (clever someone). Our birthday treat was a complimentary basket of steamed Lotus longevity buns filled with lotus seed paste – not unlike chestnut paste – and a sweet egg yolk paste. Happy Birthday and much longevity to us!
…and then there were complimentary Chinese petits fours, just in case we were still faint with hunger. A light, almost mousse-like almond jelly with sweet red beans; little sesame paste filled puff things; and gorgeously crumbly cashew pastries (these were my favourite). We still had bottomless tea to drink so the petits fours somehow got eaten up ☺
Thank you Mr Richard Leung and the other wonderful front-of-house staff, and of course Chef Lee and his excellent kitchen team, for an absolutely fabulous First Hong Kong Dim Sum experience! Highly, highly recommended. More Michelin stars for you!