The Chairman, a two-year-old restaurant tucked away in a quiet corner of Hong Kong's Central district, has garnered quite a name for itself thanks to its distinctive brand of Cantonese cuisine, and already been awarded a Michelin Star - no mean feat in Asia for a small, independent venue not affiliated with a hotel or located within a high footfall shopping mall.
After perusing the menu, most notable for a lengthy mission statement about using the best produce and being a restaurant created by food lovers, for food lovers blah blah blah, and hearing a passionate description of the menu's star items from the gentleman who served us, we settled on 4 dishes to share, starting with the Crispy Small Yellow Croakers served with Balsamic Dressing. This was a complete disappointment - it was a component of the tasting menu, and also highly recommended by the waiter so I was hopeful of something a little bit special but far from it - this was simply deep fried fish - err great. I am pleased to report, however, that this represented, by some distance, the low point of the meal.
Smoked Baby Pigeon with Longjing Tea & Chrysanthemum had a really lovely tea smoked taste to it. Steamed Fresh Flowery Crab with Aged Shao Xing Wine, Fragrant Chicken Oil & Flat Rice Noodles, present on every table we surveyed and clearly a signature dish of the restaurant, was superb. The crab meat was sweet and lush, the shao xing wine present in just the right quantity and at no point overpowering, the fragrant chicken oil added another level of depth and complexity to the sauce, and the slurpy rice noodles were the perfect accompaniment to lap everything up. A wonderfully balanced dish – I absolutely loved it.
The Chairman's Soy Sauce Chicken didn't sound the most exciting option - don't get me wrong, I love a good soy sauce chicken, I just don't tend to order it at fancier restaurants because the best versions I have tasted are at stalls in South East Asia - but the waiter recommended it so highly that we almost couldn't not order it. We were given no cause for regret. Packed, apparently, with 18 different flavours - quite a few more than your regular soy sauce chicken I dare say, it was splendid - the sauce very tasty, as you might imagine - a little bit herbal-y, but by no means excessively so; the chicken nice and moist. It was lovely.
Dessert is almost always a weakness at Chinese restaurants, and the pudding selection, or lack thereof, indicated a similar theme here. We settled for one serving each of the Osmanthus & Wolfberry Ice-cream, and Pickled Ginger Ice-cream. Of the two, the gorgeous osmanthus & wolfberry was easily the standout.
In a nutshell...
The Chairman is a quality Cantonese Restaurant, with a difference, and in a place like Hong Kong, that takes some doing. I would happily recommend, and return, in a heartbeat.
18 Kau U Fong, Central, Hong Kong
Average Price: HKD 500
1 Michelin Star