The One With Summer Palace – Elegant Restaurant, Mediocre Fare

It has been months since my dinner experience at the Summer Palace at the Shangri-la. Back then the weather has just started to carry pleasant, wintery chill, when you’ll be excused to take the flamboyant quota up a notch with trendy jackets and stylish scarfs.

Not the horrible, horrible humid summer we are all experiencing right now, when the only piece of clothing you will want to wear is, well, nothing.

Early Christmas Dinner At Summer Palace

Back to Summer Palace. It was an early Christmas dinner, a celebration of sorts. Back then, I didn’t know this was a potential Michelin-starred restaurant. But I should have known. With it’s elegant banquet hall styled up with Chinese arts on gold embossed walls, it evokes in mind the splendid grandeur of Hong Kong’s Chinese heritage. Everything at Summer Palace is never understated, from its ornately carved wood panels to sparkling silverware and oriental teacups.

In fact, so much so that it indeed get awarded a Michelin star in 2012, a recognition indeed!

We ordered the set dinner for two, which serves some of the best highlights of the restaurant as recommended by many foodies. It took quite a while before the first dish was served, so we amused ourselves with our early Christmas presents :D

Early Christmas Dinner At Summer Palace

And then the food starts to arrive.

Baked stuffed crab shell

Early Christmas Dinner At Summer Palace

I wished I took a pic after cutting this baby open. Full of goodness of a meat paste of unknown origin (I know, I am always too vague for my own good!), the crisp exterior with breaded barter was a nice contrast with what’s inside – succulent juicy meat mixed with chestnuts and (of course) crab meat. This is a real crowd pleaser.

Braised bird’s nest and diced seafood wrapped with egg white sheet

Early Christmas Dinner At Summer Palace

What an elaborate dish! This is like a giant wonton sitting broth. I couldn’t remember the taste of the diced seafood, and being a seafood lover had the dish been remarkable I would have not only remembered it but made notes (on my iPhone) about it. The braised bird nest was great and decadent. I am always impartial towards bird nest – it’s an Asian delicacy that I always thought slightly overstated – but this was an interesting combination.

Steamed tiger garoupa fillet with bean curd in yellow bean paste

Early Christmas Dinner At Summer Palace

I was very looking forward towards this this. A sure sign of a great Cantonese chef lies in its tofu (bean curd) – silky smooth to the taste, providing a perfect contrast to the selected meat, in this case, tiger garoupa. Alas, I was disappointed. The bean curd was surprisingly rough and tasted bland despite the seasoning. I was so disappointed that I couldn’t appreciate the tiger garoupa, perfectly done as it seems to be.

Pan-fried beef ribs with goose liver paste

Early Christmas Dinner At Summer Palace

The beef was done rather well – just to the right degree without being overcooked, making the meat tears off the ribs in delectable chunks. The goose liver paste was not as uniquely-tasting as I thought it might be; perhaps the generous amount of onions overpowered the supposedly tangy paste.

Fried rice with conpoy and egg white

Early Christmas Dinner At Summer Palace

Major, major disappointment. In fact, I think this was a mistake. The chef has obviously forgotten to add seasoning to the rice. It tasted nothing like it looked like. At the best of time (read: on nights when I do away with my carbless diet), I love fried rice, but this wasn’t even worth wasting my calorie quota.

Chilled sago cream with mango juice and pomelo

Early Christmas Dinner At Summer Palace

I made a note on this: “mediocre dessert”. That about sums out this nice looking but not as good tasting bowl of dessert.

Verdict? At HK$1,480 for two persons, a Michelin starred restaurant no less, I expected something at least reasonable. While the deco was top grade and service was impeccable (plus that really good stuffed crab shell), these combined doesn’t equal to a Michelin star.

This, combined with my recent visit to Tim’s Kitchen, might just make me swear off Michelin starred restaurant altogether.

Summer Palace
5/F, Island Shangri-La Hong Kong, Pacific Place
88 Queensway, Admiralty
2820 8552


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Comments

  1. JW says:

    Razlan – so Christmas happens twice a year for you, lol!?  Sorry to hear about the less than stellar experience you had, but you really did do Shangri-La a big favor by posting some nice pics there!  Just at first glance your pics have me thinking about dinner already….and I haven’t even had lunch!  As for those Michelin-starred restaurants, I usually are skeptical since I think they’re more like marketing gimmicks so I usually try to assign my Joe Star system.  Hopefully your next outing brings about a much tastier experience!

  2. Razlan says:

    Maybe I should not give up hope on Michelin-starred restaurants yet. So, what’s a Joe Star system? Perhaps I could use that instead ;)

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