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Yan Toh Heen at the InterContinental, Hong Kong

Joanna Hall

The famous InterContinental Hotel has always been a home away from home for us when visiting Hong Kong, as well as one of the city's great romantic getaways, and choosing which of its many fine dining venues has always been an issue: there are never enough nights to try them all. On this trip, after a week in Honkers, we were pretty sure we'd tried everything in a culinary capacity, but before we headed out to the airport and home again, we saved one evening to check out the newly refurbished Yan Toh Heen.

Recipient of one coveted Michelin star, this world-class dining venue is tucked away in the lower level of the hotel, specialising in Cantonese cuisine, with Executive Chef Lau You Fai at the helm. Since the venue opened in 1984 he's been fusing refined Chinese cooking techniques with the freshest of seasonal ingredients; the result is a feast for the senses, coupled with a divine location on the edge of Victoria Harbour in one of Hong Kong's finest long standing hotels.

The location and decor:

The cuisine may be a lusty combination of Chinese old and new, but the venue is all contemporary modern, and after a major facelift is a wonderful fusion of earth tones, bronze, greys and creams, brightened with accents of colour such as the gorgeous jade place settings including napkin holders, platters and chopstick holders. The restaurant is also very spacious, and has also been cleverly arranged to allow for plenty of quiet nooks for smaller groups, comfy couches and booths with satin cushions, and intimate tables for two separated by partially open dividers. Even if it's busy, it doesn't feel crowded. There's plenty of natural light too from the large windows, sweeping towards the harbour views which are spectacular day or night, and some lovely, dramatic art pieces should your attention wander from the food.

Loosely translated Yan Toh Heen means "elegant dining place" and as far as living up to its name, the restaurant does. In the entry way there's a wine bar which is dark and mysterious space, rather than a place to imbibe, the centrepiece a marble display table, and dark wood surrounding the walls, with illuminated cases showcasing special wines. It certainly gives you a taste of what's to come - quiet glamour. Besides an elegant dining environment befitting a hotel of its stature, the service is as you would expect in a five-star, award-winning establishment; friendly, efficient and very much on the ball, with even the slightest look of curiosity attracting subtle attention from the wait staff.

The menu:

There is a lavish Dim Sum menu for lunch for weekdays, and for weekends and public holidays, and a high tea and dessert option, but we chose to visit for dinner, which operates from 6pm to 11pm daily. As with many Cantonese specialty restaurants, the choice of dishes can be overwhelming, as well as the fact that the menus change often either to match the lunar month or what ingredients are available in season. When one person visits Hairy Crab might be on the menu, while at another time it might be something else. There are set menus to choose from, chef's specialties and a variety of dishes, some organised as appetisers and mains, and others almost as tasting plates to share; the latter is good, as dining as a couple you can get to try many exotic things!

We began our culinary journey with something not so adventurous, Barbecued Suckling Pig, which arrived cooked to perfection; slices of soft juicy meat topped with crispy skin. We followed with a favourite dish of ours in Hong Kong, Wok-seared Garoupa Fillet with Soy Sauce; again simple, but exquisite, with beautifully marinated fish in a lovely presentation. Next was Wok-fried Wagyu Beef with Green Peppers, Mushrooms and Garlic, cooked to medium rare and truly melting in the mouth. Finally, some Braised Whole Abalone with Diced Roasted Duck and Eggplant, rich with a variety of experiences for your taste buds, and Inaniwa Noodles with Lobster in Black Bean Sauce.

We don't usually make dessert, even at a Michelin-starred restaurant, but we were persuaded to try this one dish: Chilled Mango Cream with Sago and Pomelo. It was worth it just for the presentation, served in a gorgeous jade bowl on top of a transparent dish smoking with dry ice, but the cream itself was thick and fruity, without being too rich or heavy. Dinner was done.

With a Michelin star, a central location in Kowloon, and a classy, refreshed new look, dining here isn't just a treat for a special occasion but should be on everyone's bucket list when visiting Hong Kong. The food is sublime, and the service right up there with the best; the only problem you will encounter is what to choose from the mouthwatering, extensive menu.

Yan Toh Heen is located in the Lower Level of the InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Kowloon. Call +852 2313 2323 for reservations or visit

Getting There:

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