The softly lit entrance of Sing Yin invites you to take a closer peek at what is hiding within. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it doorway, tucked away on the first floor of the W Hotel, but once you walk in, it’s hard not to be quietly impressed with the decor.
Before I launch into the food, I have to gush a little about the interior. The architect and interior designer Steve Leung, has skilfully paired a sleek and modern design with features of old Hong Kong. I love the semi-private dining rooms that span the length of the passage on the way to the main dining area. It’s a clever and lovely feature and each ‘room’ has a theme that cheerfully reflects the streets of Hong Kong such as local groceries, boutiques and barbers.
The rooms are separated by transparent Oriental frames and coupled with the muted colours of the restaurant, subtle lighting and soothing music in the background, it all makes for a wonderfully harmonious atmosphere. At the end of the passage is a nifty wall of clear glass fish tanks and LCD screens showing virtual marine life and real fish swimming along, which adds to the tranquil ambience. The main dining room is equally ‘oohh-worthy’, with walls proudly displaying the city’s skyline and the carpet an awesome copy of the map of the outlines of Hong Kong and Kowloon skyscrapers.
I had lunch in the gorgeous birdcage themed semi-private room and experienced impeccable service, which included the waiter kindly giving me a chair for my handbag (very important for a girl of course, bonus points!).
Chef Bryan Lee has created a menu that has a Cantonese focus, but which also encompasses elements of Northern and Southern cuisines, as reflected by his culinary travels in China. I was lucky enough to taste eight of Sing Yin’s ‘must-try’ dishes, including their famous Lychee wood-fired crispy chicken, which I eagerly anticipated… especially as it was seventh on the list!
To start, I had three excellent dumplings – deep fried abalone with wagyu beef, steamed whole abalone with sea moss and steamed hairy crab meat with minced pork and crab roe. I particularly enjoyed the deep fried dumpling, which had a fantastic crisp shell and a wonderful balance of beef and abalone flavours.
Nothing is more addictive than the broth inside a xiao long bao, and the steamed hairy crab dumpling was fantastic. As I gently nibbled the side of the dumpling, the flavoursome broth escaped and in my panic, I lost some of the soup (so sad). In the end I had to opt for inelegance and popped the entire dumpling in my mouth before further loss!
The double-boiled grain-fed quail soup was presented with a flourish in a scooped-out papaya masquerading as a bowl. The sweetness of the papaya infused into the soup, which had a real depth (I assume due to the double-boiling process) and was interestingly refreshing, cleansing my palate.
An observation I made was the simplicity and elegance of all of Chef Lee’s dishes. The stir-fried fillet of garoupa was an excellent example of this, where the real pizzazz was in the taste. The garoupa was delicately seasoned and cooked to perfection, with the asparagus and Chinese wolfberries subtly enhancing the fish’s mild flavour.
Stir-fried diced Wagyu beef with crispy garlic is always a winner with me and again, the dish was uncomplicated in appearance; the beef was accompanied by a small receptacle of beansprouts, which helped cut through the tiny but unavoidable amount of grease on the meat. My only grouse is that the garlic slices weren’t nearly crispy enough.
The main star of the menu, the lychee wood-fired crispy chicken, was truly luscious. I was glad I had paced myself for this dish, as it was well worth the wait. The chicken, I’m told, undergoes a fairly intense process of overnight seasoning, roasting with lychee wood and tea leaves, and is then fired to the golden, glistening beauty you see when it comes to your table. The skin was amazingly crisp, the chicken succulent and juicy with a faint hint of sweetness.
The last dish was ‘Sichuan style’ soup noodles with enoki mushrooms and minced pork – a surprisingly spicy finish to the meal, which left me in a flustered but satisfied, bloated heap in my chair.
With the exquisite decoration, attentive service and an impressive menu with several stand-out dishes, the W Hotel has a fine restaurant on their hands. Sing Yin has a lovely nostalgic feel to it, and with those frames carefully shielding you and your friends from fellow dining companions, one can dine with absolute gusto and feast on that chicken with abandonment.
Sing Yin 1/F, W Hotel, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui
3717 2848 www.w-hongkong.com/en/sing-yin-restaurant-promotions
Check out more food-related writings from Michelle on her blog, Chopstixfix!