T’ang Court 唐阁 just received their third Michelin star in the 2016 Michelin Guide Hong Kong and Macau. A three-starred Michelin restaurant is rare enough. A Chinese restaurant with the coveted three stars is even rarer. T’ang Court had also won lots of other awards and accolades. We had to stop by this famous Cantonese restaurant in Langham Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon during our recent trip to the Fragrant Harbour.
Going to a famous restaurant for the very first time is like going on a first date. There is quite a bit of anticipation, but you try not to show it. You have some knowledge about the restaurant but at the same time, you are aware that the actual experience may turn out to be different. Finally, you will leave with a lighter wallet. Having a reservation with a 3-star Michelin restaurant ups the ante a few notches – it is like a first date with a beauty queen.
The decor at T’ang Court was dark and sombre, quite different from some of the pictures we had seen. There were two levels of dining space. We were seated on the upper level. The lower level was a conventional rectangular dining space. The upper level was more interesting. There were eclectic decorative elements ranging from a large Tang horse to modern paintings and photographs. Thick fabric curtains acted as room dividers. Fabric trimmings stretched up to the ceiling, giving an impression of dining in a tent. A bit quirky, we thought, which was better than boring. The tables were placed reasonably far apart and the pure white table-clothes stood out in the darkness. Overall, we were underwhelmed by the ambience at T’ang Court.
We were warmly welcomed at the restaurant. Service was impeccable. The staff, and in particular the restaurant manager, were totally friendly and patient as we browsed through the menu and wine list. They answered our questions and provided recommendations. In the end we decided on three dishes – the stir fried lobster 三蔥爆龍蝦 (HK$860), roast goose (HK$240) and Inaniwa noodles with prawn dumplings (HK$240). Here are some pictures of random pages of the T’ang Court menu and wine list.
The meal started with a platter of amuse bouche. The lightly pickled vegetables were refreshing and crunchy. The deep-fried beancurd skins were quite ordinary in taste.
There was quite a wide selection in the wine list. We settled for a bottle of dry Tokaji from Hungary ($600). One of the more affordable wines on the list, it was a crisp, dry wine which we thought would go well with the different types of food that evening and that turned out to be the case.
The first dish to be served was the roast goose. It was a large portion of de-boned fat goose. Very flavourful and the adequate fat ensured that every piece of the bird was moist. Very good indeed.
The next dish was the highlight of the meal – the lobster fried with three types of onions – spring onions, red onions and shallots. It was on top of the T’ang Court’s list of award-winning dishes and also a dish which we have read good reviews about. The presentation of the dish would not win any beauty contest.
The lobster was probably not very large as there were only very few meaty bits such as the one seen below. We could tell that the lobster was fresh and perfectly cooked as the meat was bouncy and firm, but it was a tad too salty. The delicate seafood taste of the lobster would probably shine through better with less flavouring . We must say however that the combined flavour of the three onions was very good and if you are fortunate enough to find a nugget of lobster meat, it was a most delightful mouthful of taste. We could eat the pieces of the caramelised red onion by themselves.
The final dish was the Inaniwa noodles with prawn dumplings in fish soup. We thought that it would be interesting to try the Cantonese interpretation of these Japanese noodles. As in the case of the common wanton noodles, the dish was served with all the ingredients buried inside. The appearance of the dish was very plain.
Stirring up the noodles to reveal the hidden vegetables and dumplings helped to improve the dish visually. But it did nothing to enhance the very plain taste of the entire dish. There was no fish soup taste, just a very plain broth. So we had to resort to what any Singaporean would do. Request for chilli.
Asking for chilli padi and soy sauce in a 3-star restaurant was a first for us. It helped perk up the otherwise very pale and plain dish.
Overall, our dining experience at the three Michelin starred T’ang Court restaurant was quite different from what we expected. Our beauty queen date turned up without make-up and was quite different from what she looked in the photographs. But to her credit, she had great personality, was friendly and did not flaunt her beauty contest credentials.
In other words, our opinion of T’ang Court was that is was an unpretentious, friendly restaurant. We would visit again and dine here as we would any other Cantonese restaurant without thinking too much about the stars. Choice of dishes is critical as we found that the quality level can vary a lot.
Overall Rating: 4 TOPs
8 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong