With the Chinese New Year celebrations coming to a close, restaurants and businesses across the city are preparing to reopen following a hectic festive celebration. One particular Michelin-starred restaurant, however, kept their doors open to usher in the new lunar year, serving traditional Lunar New Year features that are not only delicious but also brimming with symbolism and auspicious significance.
Ying Jee Club, the Cantonese fine-dining establishment set in Central’s Nexxus Building, is helmed by Executive Chef Siu Hin Chi – who previously helped ensure another high-end cuisinery, T’ang Court, achieved two Michelin-star status, brought home a second star for Duddell’s in 2015 and even helped this particular eatery secure its first star just four months after it opened – the restaurant’s beloved menu was enhanced with a special Lunar New Year spread for the period between 12-18 February.
Summing up the dishes that comprised the exclusive menu, Chef Siu says: “The food we’ll be serving for the holiday majors on iconic festive flavours, further heightened by the finest ingredients. What’s more, each course had been specially renamed to signify good luck and fortune, all in the hope of bestowing blessings on our diners.”
As part of our own tasting menu, we sampled five of the menu’s star turns, beginning with a bowl of Imperial Bird’s Nest Broth with Fish Maw, Conpoy and Chicken. Comfort food at its very finest, the hearty chicken broth was enhanced with complementing textures of gelatinous bird’s nest and crunchy fish maw, while the conpoy bequeathed a deliciously oceanic tinge to proceedings. Subtle yet palate-pleasing, the various ingredients blended together in a wholesome and wholly satisfying manner.
Next up was the Crispy Suckling Pig with Goose Liver Pate and Wok-fried Prawn with Salted Egg Yolk, the Chinese name of which equates to wishing diners a prosperous, gold-enriched home. All in all, the yolk-battered prawns were beautifully golden-hued – symbolising wealth and prosperity – and packed a major umami punch, while the crispy skin of the suckling pig was enhanced with the unusual addition of a small steamed bun and a layer of opulent pâté. Undeniably a feast for the eyes, this delicious dish blended two of Cantonese cuisine’s best-loved appetisers in a sinfully rich fashion.
Another appetiser, Braised Mushroom with Shrimp Paste, Scallop and Crab Roe, then made its much-anticipated entrance. Here, the subtle taste of scallop and prawn enhanced the meaty, umami-laden flavours of the mushroom, with the crab roe imparting an added textural dimension. The glistening jade-hued – yet another lucky Chinese New Year colour – bakchoy was a welcome addition, adding a refreshing component to the plate.
Clearly keen to turn the luxury factor up several notches, Chef Siu further enticed our appetite with a heaped plate of Braised South Africa Abalone with Roasted Duck, Black Mushroom and Yunnan Ham. The generously portioned serving of abalone – that most coveted of edible molluscs – was braised in the requisite sauce prior to being sat atop a bed of thinly-sliced roasted duck and mushrooms. Guaranteed to appeal to festive-minded local diners, slivers of Yunnan ham imparted a sharp saltiness to this otherwise subtly nuanced concoction.
The star of the show, though, was undeniably the Sautéed Lobster with Water Chestnut and Crispy Conpoy. Yet another study in how to perfectly balance flavours and textures, the sweet, crunchy water chestnuts and crispy conpoy shavings served to enhance each succulent morsel of lobster, while tantalising the taste buds with rich oceanic accents. As with preceding courses, this shellfish-led dish highlighted Chef Siu’s innate understanding of how to create a delicate equilibrium between the high-quality ingredients he chooses, with each contributing to the epicurean harmony that will leave patrons of Ying Jee Club yearning for more beyond the Chinese New Year festivities.
Ying Jee Club. Shop G05, 107-108, Nexxus Building, 41 Connaught Rd Central, Central. (852) 801 6882. www.yingjeeclub.com