Once upon a starry night

Once upon a starry night

In Hong Kong’s culinary firmament there are 88 Michelin stars. One evening, Dong Fangyu was lucky enough to get a taste of just one of them.

Competition among restaurants in the food paradise that is Hong Kong is fierce, and the latest Michelin guide underlines that fact, its pages including 64 establishments there that bear those much sought-after stars.

So on a weekend jaunt to Hong Kong we set the bar high. We were looking for a refined Cantonese restaurant offering excellent food but that would not cost an arm and a leg.

Following a local friend’s advice, we landed in a restaurant called Golden Leaf, to which Michelin has awarded one star. The restaurant is in the central business district and part of Conrad Hong Kong.

It is on the lower lobby level of the 61-story hotel above Pacific Place and amid other skyscrapers, so we had thought most of the diners would be business types and tourists. But it quickly became clear that this is a favorite haunt for another clientele, a good number of the tables appearing to be taken by many a local Hong Kong family, with old and young alike enjoying the evening together.

As we lapped up our dining experience, one thing that particularly stood out was the loyalty of Golden Leaf’s chefs to authenticity and traditional food. Yes, it does have that Michelin star, but it does not seem to play to a Western gallery by serving “fusion” dishes or by using fancy ingredients such as truffles and foie gras as though it needs to prove something.

All the dishes on the Michelin Set Menu we had revolved around simple ingredients including prawns, shrimp, broccoli, chicken and fish. Every dish was done with meticulous care, something we discerned the instant we tasted them. Even the plain fried rice we had could be considered epicurean, having been fried with minced egg yolk, fish, shrimp and barbecued pork.

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