The T’ang Trio - Oyster, Lobster, and Chicken

Fine Dining Explorer - 23/02/2012

Tang Chef SiuThe Tang dynasty is the golden age of ancient China that marks the beginning of Chinese culinary art. Situated in the heart of TsimShaTsui, T’ang Court in Langham Hong Kong serves what many consider to be the finest Cantonese cuisine in the city.

Executive Chef Siu Hin Chi carries the heavy responsibility of maintaining a kitchen of the highest standard. Chef Siu has earned the restaurant a long list of international accolades in his more than twenty years of service. He now runs a team of more than 20 kitchen staff and can serve up to 180 diners on a busy day.

T’ang Court has an elaborate menu with a wide range of meat and seafood courses, including many award-winning dishes and traditional Chinese delicacies. After sampling a variety of dim sum and main courses, the three dishes that captured my palate were the oyster, lobster, and chicken. Oysters with Port Tang OysterA few restaurants in town prepare similar oyster dishes using red wine, but Chef Siu cleverly uses port instead, which gave a distinct sweet finish to this oyster dish. In addition, only jumbo size oysters were used for a more smooth mouth feel. This dish was divine - a thin crispy crust with silky oyster inside followed by a hint of deep sweetness from the port. Another aspect that I appreciated was that the oyster was moist but not watery at all.

I can’t imagine a more perfectly executed oyster dish! Chef Siu acknowledged that this dish could easily turn out a disaster if not executed carefully. The oyster needs to be quickly poached, coated, and deep fried, but the most challenging element is the sauce. The thickness must be precise; too thick a sauce will give an uneven coating, while too runny a sauce will not stick to the oysters.

The amount of sauce must also be exact; too much sauce will overpower the oyster flavour, but too little sauce won't be enough to coat every oyster. In order to produce a consistent result, Chef Siu prepares these oysters in batches of only four at a time! Stir-fried lobster with spring onion, red onion, and shallots Tang LobsterHaving met many top Chinese chefs, I have found that one thing they all emphasise is that the serving temperature of the food is far more important than the plating.

Once the food leaves the wok, it should be brought out to diners without tampering too long on the plate. Similarly, Chef Siu mentioned that he keeps his time on plating to a minimum as the temperature is the priority, especially for seafood like lobster. I love this preparation of lobster, with subtle soy sauce savouriness and a fragrance of Chinese wine! This is what a good lobster course should be - simple cooking with a light sauce that does not mask the texture and flavour of fresh lobster. Why hide the true quality of good ingredients? A truly outstanding dish! On paper, this appears to be an easy dish to cook, as the recipe has only three steps: fry the scallion and onions, add lobster and sauce, then serve! However, achieving such a result requires masterful technique in heating control of the wok and experience in using minimal seasoning to complement the delicate freshness of the lobster. After my experience of this lobster course, I wasn’t surprised that it received Hong Kong’s Best of the Best Culinary Award - Gold with Distinction.

Crispy salted chicken Tang ChickenThough Chef Siu’s is best known for his skills in seafood, one of his poultry dishes actually made it to my list of all-time favourites! This recipe requires trimming out the fat under the skin, then poaching the whole chicken in a superior broth containing conpoy, Yunnan ham, and dried shrimp, and finally holding up the chicken and gently dousing it with hot oil over and over again until the thin skin become golden and crispy. Definitely a good course to test the perseverance of young chefs! The meat was soft and juicy with a superb flavour, while the paper-thin skin was crispy without being greasy at all! You just need to give me a bowl of rice and I can finish one whole chicken myself. If I could only choose one type of chicken preparation to eat for the rest of my life, it would be T’ang Court’s Crispy Salted Chicken!

The oyster course was exquisite; the lobster dish was impeccable; and the crispy salted chicken is Cantonese cuisine at its best! Many of the fine Chinese cuisines focus on delicacies like shark’s fin or abalone, but at T’ang Court, Chef Siu’s focus is to deliver high-quality dishes by capturing the true flavour and texture of the ingredients. This is the place to go for precisely prepared delicious Cantonese food. 

Published by Kevin Chan. Kevin is a food traveller who has lived and travelled extensively throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Drawing upon his experience, Kevin offers a worldwide perspective on fine food. Read Kevin's archive.