The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 10 December 2010

Fine Dining Yum Cha @ Man Wah (Mandarin Oriental), Hong Kong

I had never thought yum cha could be a fine dining affair until I came to Hong Kong. It's something about dim sum eating - in the old-fashioned sense where trolleys of bamboo baskets containing various bite-sized goodies are pushed around the noisy dining floor with waitresses yelling out their trolley's contents - that doesn't quite fit into the fine dining culture. And unlike French and Japanese restaurants where you can universally expect to "pay through the nose" (as my mum would say), you can get dim sum for cheap quite easily, especially in Hong Kong. But it's also in Hong Kong that you can find five-star dim sum restaurants that thrive very well, thanks to the wealthy businesspeople and holiday-makers who often stay at luxury hotels where these high end restaurants are located. I remember once getting to yum cha the expensive way at the Marriott (courtesy of Rob's aunt and husband) when we first came to Hong Kong as honeymooners more than 6 years ago, but have not since had the opportunity to do it again, until last weekend. We were scheduled to meet up for brunch with one of Rob's colleagues from New York whose girlfriend had never eaten dim sum before, and we'd voted on a yum cha brunch since it is a fairly typically Hong Kong thing to do. We needed a nice restaurant that serves good dim sum fare, and there are many good things said about the yum cha at Man Wah in the Mandarin Oriental. It was a fairly no-brainer choice then to go to Man Wah, because you can only expect the food to be at least excellent in a restaurant belonging to a five star hotel.

There were none of the chaotic noise of the trolley push-cart system in this restaurant; instead the neatly-dressed maƮtre'd showed us to our seats and a waiter took our order. There were not that many tables, and the dining area maintained an intimate atmosphere. On the menu were a few yum cha classics such as char siu bao and egg tart, but most of the dishes had been given an innovative twist, such as the xiao long bao with hairy crab mousse. All the items we ordered were nothing short of excellent, and I was pleased that D's girlfriend got a good introduction to dim sum eating (although I hope that it hasn't set the bar too high for her future experiences with dim sum). Her favourite item was the ubiquitous char siu bao (barbecue pork buns), which was probably the best char siu bao I've ever eaten!

Freebie Candied Walnuts at the start of the meal:

Luxurious version of the Lormaikai (glutinous rice in lotus leaf), with abalone. It was difficult to get a good shot of it without hot steam fogging up the lens:

Barbecue Pork Bun - seriously fluffy buns with perfectly seasoned filling:

D's favourite - the Beef Tenderloin Puff with Black Pepper Sauce:

Scallop and Shrimp Dumpling with XO Sauce:

Single serves of the Shanghainese Soup Dumpling with Minced Pork and Hairy Crab Mousse - bursting with umami flavour (and hot liquid!):

The Egg Tart made perfect! Light, flaky multi-layered pastry crust with silky eggy custard, fresh from the oven:

It wouldn't be fine dining without petit fours served at the end of the meal - Coconut Milk Pudding and Cashew Cookie:

This was a very nice dim sum experience, something to try at least once! Now if I could only find another restaurant just as nice that doesn't break the bank, so that good dim sum brunching can be a regular thing for us.


  1. Thank You for your Wonderful Writeup on Man Wah
    Dear Jeannie,
    Greetings from Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong and on behalf of our hotel property, my name is Geoff and am responsible for our E-Commerce & Social Media. First and foremost, I would like to thank you for your visit and write up of your Dim Sum experience in Man Wah in which we will share with our team accordingly. Thank you for your visit once again and we look forward to welcoming you back very soon.
    Should we be of any assistance in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.
    Yours Sincerely
    Geoffrey Wu
    E-Commerce & Social Media Manager

  2. Re: Thank You for your Wonderful Writeup on Man Wah
    Hi Geoff,
    The pleasure is all mine, as I really enjoyed the experience at Man Wah. It's a place to bring out-of-town visitors, so we'll definitely be visiting again pretty soon!