Saturday, 26 January 2013

2012-13 Hong Kong-Taiwan Trip: Hong Kong Sha Tin 18

During our trip to Hong Kong, I was given the opportunity to review Sha Tin Hyatt Regency Hotel's restaurant Sha Tin 18. They serve a mixture of Cantonese and Shanghai cuisine in a modern and relaxing environment, and has been awarded a couple of awards as well, so our expectation was fairly high. Thing is, I'm not familiar at all with Shanghai Cuisine, (even the Peking Duck I had before were Cantonese Roast Duck sliced and served in a Peking Duck way!) so I can only review the dishes according to what I think, and not according to how it should be.

1st way - with pancake

2nd way - lettuce wrap

First up was their signature dish - Peking Duck. You'll need to pre-order them as they are very popular. You can order a whole or half. The PR has kindly reserved a duck for us in case we wanted it, but since there were only 4 adults on our table, we ordered only half. Just like how they'd serve it traditionally, you can choose the duck to be served in 1, 2 or 3 ways. We ordered 3 ways - pancake wrap, lettuce wrap and soup.

A chef came to our table and showed us his impressive filleting skills. He has effortlessly sliced the crispy skin off, and then the breast meat. He also served us a plate of skin with meat from the duck leg. The waiter recommended (but not a must) us to dip the crispy skin in sugar, (and I thought it was just my sister-in-law and her family who does that!) which brings out the melt-in-your-mouth experience. As I prefer my roasted meat salty, it wasn't really my cup of tea (I'd say no to apple sauce for roast pork as well). The skin was very crispy indeed although a bit too oily (almost dripping) for me.

The pancake wrap was nice, though I'm too used to Cantonese style Roast Duck, so the Peking Duck was lacking the seasoning my brain and mouth expects. Instead of just Hoi Sien sauce, they also serve the duck and pancake with garlic puree and soya bean paste.

While we were digging in the duck and pancake, the chef took the leftovers into the kitchen, removed the remaining meat from our duck (our half of course) and made a stir fry with it. It is then served with discs of lettuce. I think that the 'Wok Hei' in the stir fry was fantastic, but I tasted mostly the celery and beans. Normally with lettuce wraps, we would season the stir fry a bit more so that when you eat it with the lettuce, the flavour will be balanced out. Unfortunately I think that the stir fry lacked a bit of seasoning. Then again, maybe that's how Shanghai cuisine should be like?

I didn't take a picture of the duck's 3rd way. Basically they used the carcass of the duck to make a soup. Unfortunately I couldn't taste much of the soup as I think the chef has over seasoned it with salt.

Left image (left to right) roast pork, roast pork belly,
sauce, jelly fish, pickled cucumber,
spicy beef shank, bean curd

Normally in Hong Kong when we go out for dinner, we always order a starter platter instead of ordering a few starters. So we've ordered their Sha Tin 18 Appetiser Combination. Instead of piling everything on the same plate, they have presented them nicely in 3 sets. Their Cantonese style roast pork and pork belly had to be the best of the night, especially their roast pork belly. Great cut of meat, extremely crispy crackling that doesn't cost you your teeth (seriously, if you like pork crackling, you have to try Cantonese roast pork belly, it's just unbeatable!), tender and juicy meat and melt in your mouth fat. Even the roast pork - Cha Siu, was delicious! Definitely thumbs up to the Cantonese Roast chef!

The jelly fish (I told you in my Hong Kong Ocean Park post that you can eat Jelly Fish! It's crunchy, if you are wondering) can be seasoned a bit more, but it didn't bother Abby and she literally ate the whole bowl up. The pickled cucumber is spicy but really crispy, making it a great starter. Very refreshing too.

Their spicy beef shank was really spicy, and drinks are definitely needed with it. The bean curd on the other hand was very nice, well seasoned and delicious.

We also ordered Steamed Pork Ribs wrapped in Glutinous Rice, thinly sliced beancurd noodle in Yunnam Ham and Chicken Stock, and a garlic stir fried Choi Sum

The pork ribs, one of their speciality, was interesting and delicious. Instead of having the meat served on top of the rice, or stuffed inside a glutinous rice parcel, they wrapped a layer of glutinous rice around the well marinated and deboned pork rib, making each mouthful an exciting experience. 

The bean curd noodle reminded me of a Hong Kong movie, which spoke about a chef who was famous for his tofu sculptures and the great seasoning (stock) he made to make the boring tofu interesting. This is a bit like that isn't it? Slicing the bean curd to make them look like noodles, while the magic comes from the stock. It was a shame that because of the bean curd's texture, the 'noodle' itself felt a bit rough, and even though the stock was flavoursome, it was too salty again. Come to think of it, the 3 soups we had that night were all overly seasoned with salt, making me wonder whether it's the chef who made a mistake, the stock came from the same pot, or was this the way they liked it?

The good old boring sidekick Choi Sum was very fresh and cooked perfectly. It was tasty and crunchy, great!

As I said, I also ordered another soup, but again it was fairly disappointing because of it being too salty.

Instead of giving ourselves a headache, we ordered their Sha Tin 18 Dessert Combination. There was a seasonal fruit platter, Osmanthus Jelly with Goji Berry Sauce, Cashew Nut and Preserved Plum Ice Cream, Coconut and Purple Glutinous Rice Pudding, as well as their signature desserts Chinese Preserved Beancurd Cheesecake and Chilled Almond milk and Goji Berry Jelly layered with Silver Ear/ Snow Fungus.

The Coconut and Purple Glutinous Rice Pudding is a more commonly known dessert, but I think it might have been left in the fridge for a bit too long so the glutinous rice layer was a bit hard. The Osmanthus Jelly on it's own is quite nice, very light and refreshing. I do think that the goji berry sauce has stolen it's thunder as the flavour is sharper. They also have a selection of homemade ice cream, and the Cashew Nut and Preserved Plum had to be one of their most adventurous creation. It is a very interesting combination, though I'm not quite sure how I should put it. I would have liked to try the safer options like Jasmine Milk Tea or White Sesame.

Chinese preserved beancurd is normally used in savoury dishes, and a small cube is enough to make the dish really tasty after stir frying. Using it in a cheese cake is definitely daring. The cheese cake is a bit too salty for us, and very sharp as well. People who like strong cheese might just like this.

I'm quite impressed with their Snow Fungus almond jelly. It must have taken the chef quite some patience and effort to layer the big pieces of snow fungus (we don't normally see such big pieces) with the almond milk jelly. The flavour is delicate (I would have liked it to be slightly sweeter) but it has a lot of texture as snow fungus is quite crispy.

Overall I think that their desserts are adventurous, with interesting combinations. But you might need an open mind to enjoy them.

Unlike traditional Chinese restaurants, Sha Tin 18 has a more relaxing environment with a few open kitchen. I was quite impressed, but we were quite unhappy that we were seated next to the balcony door, which were being opened too frequently during our visit. We should have asked to be moved, not quite sure why we didn't!

The prices are a bit more upmarket, but you'll be paying for environment, hygiene and quality. It was a shame that some of the seasoning wasn't quite to our liking though. The total came to about GBP26 per adult, which is quite normal if you go to a pub in the UK for a 3 course meal, but a luxury for locals where each adult just needed about GBP10 for a set meal. Thanks to the PR, part of our meal was subsidised.

The overall experience was quite alright, we did get distracted by the cold wind coming in from the balcony and Clay was being bothersome because he was still unwell. There were many more dishes I would have loved to try but we had a budget and some of their dishes, because of the special ingredients they used, were more expensive. If it was lunch time I would have tried out their Dim Sum too as most of them sounded quite special.

Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Sha Tin
18 Chak Cheung Street
Sha Tin, New Territories
Hong Kong

+852 3723 1234

Disclosure: Part of our bill was paid for by the restaurant, however all opinions are honest and my own.