Sun Tung Lok

132 Nathan Road, Miramar shopping mall, Hong Kong, China

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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.

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  • Name unavailable

    I have read your comment but in my opinion you miss some signature dishes and you might not order correctly to have a fair review of this reataurant. (This is not your fault since I understand sometimes as a tourist you may find difficulty on communication with the chinese-speaking waiter so you may not get the correct information or the real recommendation from them) 1st of all, forget about dim sum. Sun Tong Lok is not famous on its dim sim. I would say their dim sum is just average from many hong kong people's perspective. Lung King Heen does the most immpressive and innovative dim sum in Hong Kong (even though I personally think you miss a lot of exciting dishes after I read your comment about it) . If you want to go for traditional dim sum, you should go for fook lam moon(1 star)in wan chai or for Tim Ho Wan(1 star)(highly recommended for this one, although one to two hour queue is exepcted) in Mong Kok. To be honest, if you want to talk about the service that western cuisine requires or the timing/sequences of dishes to be delivered, I regretedly say chinese cuisine is still far inferior to Frech or even japanese. There is long way for Chinese restaurant to catch up with that kind of service. As a Chinese, I always find awkward about how dishes is delivered and how chef arranges dishes in proper sequence, specially you have tried some three-star services. We just dont have this tradition!! We like to order a big dishes of food and we share!! We dont care about the order!! If you guys want to review chinese cuisine based on "service", I dont think no chinese restaurant to be able to rated three star. Ok, no dim sum. What can you try?? I would list out some of the dishes based on my several visit. (1)Braised Prime rib of beef with House gravy (2)Braised pamelo skin with goose web and dried shrimp roe (3) Steamed salted fish with minced pork (4) Deep Fried Chicken with Shrimp Sauce ( this is the signature dish in Sun Tond Lok for many years, I dont understand what you guys doesnt know about it!!) (5) Hot pot Crab with Rice noodle( I do not know exactly how to say it in english and you guys definitely should try it) Even if you miss those dishes, you could just have a Soup of the day, Steamed Fish of the day( Sun Tong Lok has one of the best Steamed fish in hong kong) and several simple dishes and you could still think their food quality is a solid one star restaurant. Regardless of the service, Sun Tong Lok is a fair two star due to some innovation on some dishes, that I dont think you guys could understand that if you are not familiar with chinese cuisine.

  • Craig Fisher

    We dined here on an evening and it sounds like lunch was the better option as I would not place this above 2/10 standard. The skarks fin soup was bland, the birds nest soup completely tasteless and a pork dish had a weird coating/dusting which seems to do no more than make my throat and lips tingle. The saving grace, I must say, was the abalone. I only tried the low grade abalone, and even this was absolutely heavenly, one of the best dishes I have ever had. My conclusion was that, much as Michelin on occasion mistakes the presence of caviar and foie gras on a Western Menu as being indicators of quality, they looked at the proliferation of the "holy trinity" of abalone, birds nest and sharks fin and come the conclusion that it must, therefore, be of the highest quality. I would add, though, that we had the opposite feeling in respect of service. The waitress pulled up a service cart at the end of the table and seemed to remain there the entire meal, with my partner and I having the feeling of being watched.

  • Kian Lee

    Wholeheartedly agree with your assessment Andy. I went with a group of locals for a more educated experience as even though I may be Chinese my palette is admittedly more Westernized. We went for lunch and like you tried a mixture of Dim Sum items as well as from the dinner menu. The dim sum items were presented first and they came separately so that you could enjoy each individual dish without the next one getting cold. The only problem here was that the first item brought out was the Crispy Beancurd Skin filled with Prawn Paste (a fried item) before any of the steamed items. The idea of bringing out each individual dim sum item is to allow the palate to enjoy the subtle flavours before the more robust ones much like sashimi is served before the fried items in a Japanese restaurant. The dim sum items were good but not any more than that. It certainly wasn't memorable and certainly not as good as that at Lung King Heen. Perhaps 5/10. On to the signature dish and we tried the supreme shark's fin soup. Now this was a dish unto itself. The shark fin kept whole and having perfect texture. Prior to serving, the waitress would bring a sample of the soup for us to try to ensure that the flavour was to our taste. This was a very nice touch as a person may prefer different intensities of the stock. Speaking of the stock it was magnificent - each individual element of the chicken broth, yunnan ham and ginseng distinct and well balanced. This was truly a 3* dish. (9/10) On to some cantonese fare and we tried roast suckling pig, baked conch portugese style (which despite its name is cantonese) and baked crab. The pork had nice crisp skin and you could tell the care that went into the marinade as you can taste the distinct chinese herbs used. The only problem was that the pork itself was not of very good quality. The meat should literally melt in your mouth which it certainly didn't here. (5/10) Baked conch of sea whelk was delicious with the curry flavour balanced well (7/10) but baked cantonese style crab was a disaster with at least 10 individual crab shells fished out. (3/10) Service started out fine but soon disintegrated into oblivion. They had messed up the order of the baked conch and brought out a portion less. Now in any restaurant worth its salt, the correct thing to do would have been to take it back to the kitchen and start again to ensure all guests get to eat the same time. Instead, they decided to serve my guests while I had the pleasure of looking at them eat. I guess the alternative was for my guest to wait a whole 20 minutes for my portion to be served which they had forgotten for a second time. The other big nit pick was that they did not look after our tea very well leaving it to stew. Whilst this may be acceptable at a local Chinatown restaurant, I expect a lot more from a fine dining establishment especially when rare tea leaves are involved. So this really does beg the question - can one dish (since I did not try any abalone) really make a 3* restaurant? Answers on a postcard to Michelin.

  • Joseph Sanki

    Easily the worst three star restaurant I have tried. It is absurd that this restaurant can be ranked equal with European restaurants such as Ledoyen and Louis XV. Poor food and incompetent waiters, together with a markedly suboptimal wine list, will make any diner question how Michelin could rate this place as a 3 star.

  • Nick O

    Other than coverage for a new area, it is absolutely not possible for a new entry to begin with 3 stars. This is either corruption or incompetence. Is it possible that we are witnessing here the end of Michelin as the dominant force in this sector?

  • James Jacob

    I agree with you. How could this place be a three star? Nice, but not a three star