Where does the end of the sea start? Or even: what do we say when we say: sea? We say the immense monster capable of devouring anything, or that wave that froths around our feet? The water that you can keep in the lead of the hand or the abyss that no one can see? We say everything in one word or in one word we all hide? I’m here, one step from the sea, and I cannot even understand, where he is. The sea. The sea.
(Alessandro Baricco – Ocean sea)
It’s at times like this that I have to be careful. Use tremendous caution.
I lose myself.
It does not matter where I am. It does not matter if I’m walking on the water’s edge, if I’m flying on a plane or if I’ve decided to spend the day accompanying the relaxing boat swinging in a harbour. It does not even matter if I’m on vacation or I have to work.
Wherever I am, I simply lose myself.
I risk getting lost or sucked into the immensity of this vast blue that the less attentive call “sea”.
I do not believe.
I do not believe in the didactic description of what effectively is an entity in its own right. Endowed with life. Of values. That probably has his own vision of justice.
It cannot simply be “sea”.
It is a lot more.
And he calls me.
Since I was a child. Ever since I learned to walk and think with my head.
He calls me.
And I resist. At least I try. It seems like the story of Dino Buzzati’s Colombre, but on the contrary. In that case, the fisherman ran away from his destiny, which was nothing but happiness. I simply resist. Aware that eventually I will have to give up, allowing him to reach me. I wait for that moment with curiosity: who knows what the sea will tell me. What a gift or spite will propose me.
I think of all this from the table that they reserved me. Clearly looking at the ocean in front of me. If it is usually difficult to identify the contours, today it is impossible. The mist dominates the sky of Hong Kong. I can almost touch it. In the end I’m part of it, at least for the height: I’m on the fourth floor of the Four Seasons hotel, where the Lung King Heen is located, the restaurant run by chef Chan Yan Tak. This is an important restaurant: the first in the world of Cantonese cuisine to receive the three Michelin stars.
The hall amazes me: apart from the view, wonderful and favoured by huge glass walls, boasts the beauty of 128 seats, always booked.
The Lung King Heen offers three menus: the classic à la carte and two tastings, the executive lunch and the Yum Cha Gourmet Menu. I choose the latter, also won by the pairing of tea, or the ability to taste different varieties of the drink, that will pair the dishes for taste and consistency.
We start with the Steamed Dim Sum Selection, a sort of amuse bouche consisting of three sauces: a spicy chili-based, another of mushrooms and the last in sweet and sour. They are eaten together with steamed ravioli, typical Chinese, stuffed with shrimp (the first) and lobster (the second) served at the table inside a bamboo container. To taste them better, Iced Fujian Supreme Oolong Tea is poured: a very pleasant cold tea.
The second dish is the Baked Barbecued Pork Bun with Pine Nuts, Baked Whole Abalone Puff with Diced Chicken. These are two tartlets: one closed with pork and peanuts; the other open, on which the Abalone is placed, a mollusc, accompanied by the chicken. Yunnan Supreme Black Tea pairs this dish. Very similar to English black tea, it is made of aromatized leaves, infused for a very short time, about twenty seconds.
Then we arrive at the Steamed Star Garoupa Fillet with Ginger and Spring Onions in Bamboo Basket. The fish, the main ingredient of the dish, is cooked with ginger and raw onion. I eat it while sipping the Shifeng Long Jing: a tea much lighter than the previous one, excellent with the sea taste.
We then move on to Wok-Friend Superior Australian Wagyu Beef Cubes with Morel Mushrooms: Australian beef, massaged with beer, cooked in the classic Chinese wok and seasoned with morels. The tea is perhaps the best I’ve ever tasted: the Yunnan Home Preserved Puer is from 1999, a special year, during which the right amount of wind, sun and rain gave birth to a crazy drink, with a very particular taste, almost smoked, excellent for meat.
We close with the main course: the Simmered Noodles with Shredded Chicken in Soup. Classic rice noodles, in a chicken cream, accompanied by chicken cubes. I find it huge in quality and too insipido. Rejected.
I finish with the dessert: Chilled Mango and Sago Cream with Pomelo. This, however, very successful. Finally, the small pastry needs a review: four chocolates very bland.
I complete my experience at the Lung King Heen by visiting the bathrooms: clean, huge, wonderful. Typical of the Four Season.
Regarding the dishes, I don’t feel like giving chef Chan Yan Tak (which was not in place) a very high rate. First because the service wasn’t perfect, especially at the turn of the shift, with the first very prepared waiter and the second revisable. Secondly, the Cantonese cuisine can achieve much more valuable results.
Final mark: three and a half beards.