This family-run restaurant is on the 4th floor of the Mirimar shopping mall, and opened in 1969 (though not at this location). There are assorted set menus at widely varying prices plus the a la carte options. They are clearly proud of their 2011 Michelin entry, when they appeared as if from nowhere into the guide with three stars, to the general bemusement of several local foodies. Their 3 star Michelin award is mentioned on many pages of the menu, with a picture of the guide printed on one page just in case you had missed the point. A speciality here is shark fin, which I have never really understood the appeal of from a culinary perspective, and I think is something that many westerners struggle to appreciate; a Chinese foodie friend told me that the Chinese value some food textures that most westerners find unappetising (quite apart the ethical controversy, at least in the west, of how shark fin is removed from the live shark).
The room itself was tastefully decorated, with large, well-spaced tables, and several booths at one side of the dining room partly enclosed by curtains, as well as an entirely separate private dining room opposite the main entrance. Yet there are odd touches; instead of a hot towel at the start of the meal you are presented with a plastic sachet containing an alcohol swab wet wipe. The light above our table kept flickering in a disconcerting way, something that would be hard to imagine remaining unfixed in a starred restaurant in Europe. The clientele was mainly Chinese on this visit, and I suspect this is mostly the case, since the English of the waiters we encountered was very limited (despite English being widely spoken in Hong Kong). We were duly ushered to the most distant corner of the dining room, away from the main room.
This was a lunch so we tried a mix of dim sum plus some of the a la carte choices. The meal began well, with delicate baked barbecued pork puffs; excellent pastry and tasty pork filling (16/20). Har gau steamed prawn dumplings were good, with fairly delicate dumpling and the prawn inside cooked properly (14/20). A steamed pork dumpling again had a nice dumpling, but in this case had some rather mediocre pork, including a piece of gristle in one piece I tried (12/20).
Dishes that we tried from the a la carte menu were a mixed bunch. Deep fried pork with mango was just odd, the pork itself chewy and its flavour completely lost amongst the dominant mango sauce; this was a poor dish on number of levels (10/20).
Deep fried shredded eel with spicy salt was acceptable, with pleasant eel filling but with a distinctly clumsy, thick batter (12/20). Gai lan was also uninspired, the broccoli not particularly delicate and slightly undercooked, served with with clumps of garlic (13/20 at best).
Aromatic live prawns in a casserole was quite good, the prawns themselves having good taste and being accurately cooked, served with some decent noodles (14/20). Service was polite but fairly basic, and it proved difficult to catch the attention of waiting staff on more than one occasion.
The bill came to a reasonable HKD 330 (£26) each, with no alcohol but jasmine tea. Overall this was a perfectly pleasant restaurant with mostly capable food, and with acceptable prices for what we tried (though be aware that the set menus involving shark fin and abalone are a different affair, some at several hundred pounds per person). Yet to award this three Michelin stars is beyond comprehension. It popped into the 2011 Michelin guide from nowhere at the three star level (no pesky multi-year climb up the star grades as would occur in France); perhaps at the Michelin Hong Kong guide someone's keyboard stuck and three stars came out when they meant to award one. That is the most charitable explanation I can think of. Even if the shark fin here is remarkable (I am not in a position to judge), a restaurant is about more than a single dish.
My weekly restaurant round-up is now published, covering Venice: http://t.co/N49RGg6m9o