Thursday, January 30, 2014

Restaurant Review: China Tang 唐人館

Location: Landmark, Central
Type of food: Cantonese
Rating: *** (3 out of 5)

Sir David Tang's philosophy on Chinese esthetics toes the thin line between kitsch and camp. Instead of turning off both Westerners and the Chinese, the Hong Kong-born entrepreneur has pulled it off rather well. Take China Club for example, the members-only restaurant pays homage to Old Shanghai's glamor without coming off tacky or cheap. It has long been one of the most sought-after dining venues in the city.

China Tang at the Landmark

Capitalizing on China Club’s success, Tang opened China Tang at the Dorchester Hotel in Central London in 2007. A year later, he teamed up with media tycoon Peter Lam and opened Island Tang at the Galleria Plaza in Central. Then came Kowloon Tang at the ICC in 2012. Eight weeks ago, the dynamic duo unveiled a second China Tang on the fourth floor of the Landmark just above the Italian bakery Ciak, which the two also co-own.

China Tang Hong Kong is a hangout for bankers on expense account. It is where har gow is stuffed with lobster and every siu mai is topped with a mini-abalone. It is where a small plate of barbecued pork costs $238 and a dim sum lunch for two can easily go over $1,200. Despite the fancy ingredients and hefty price tags, however, the food is not much to write home about. It all tastes rather ordinary. 

One of the semi-private dining rooms

The interior is quintessential David Tang: flashy but tasteful, nostalgic but modern, Chinese but so very colonial. The space comprises a main dining hall and a half-dozen semi-private rooms, where three to four tables share their own enclosures. The uniformed staff try hard to please, although they can get a bit frazzled – and forgetful – during the busy lunch hour.

China Tang is an exclusive, deal-making place for well-heeled bankers to entertain well-heeled clients. It is not the sort of restaurant that regular salary men and “office ladies” just walk into, nor is it meant to be. Considering that we already have China Club and Island Tang within a 100-yard radius, however, the new addition to Tang's portfolio feels formulaic and been-there-done-that. The truth is, if you don’t mind dropping that kind of cash on Cantonese food, you are far better off taking your business to the three-Michelin-starred Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons.

The char siu ain't cheap

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