12 March, 2012
Eat & Drink

Spring Moon: Chinese elegance at The Peninsula

12 March, 2012

When I think of The Peninsula, I think of elegance. I think of class. I think of all the things we often are too busy to care about in Hong Kong’s fast-paced lifestyle. Spring Moon, The Peninsula’s Cantonese restaurant, echoes this to the letter. It is designed to be reminiscent of a 1920s-style Shanghainese mansion with dark wood and oriental rugs. Little touches like the silver bowls and trays used for things as commonplace as nuts or warm hand towels were enough to make me know, right from the onset, that this was going to be a very special meal indeed.

We tried the wine-pairing menu at Spring Moon, an 8-course feast that offered very traditional Cantonese dishes (dishes which one would perhaps not usually order, but which nevertheless tasted divine) with six carefully selected wines to complement them.

The first dish of deep-fried American oyster set the bar pretty high. The huge, fresh oyster was wrapped in a crisp, delicate batter. Whilst it had a strong flavour, it was not over-powering like some oysters can be and, paired with a beautiful New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Hawkes Bay, was the perfect start to a perfect meal.

To follow, we were served a beautifully presented soup: double-boiled sea conch with cordyceps flowers. Certainly not for the un-adventurous, this soup featured chunks of salty and slightly chewy sea conch and a perhaps-somewhat-unnecessary chicken’s foot. Although the foot didn’t particularly excite me, the soup as a whole was unexpectedly tasty and comforting… the sort of dish I can imagine would be perfect for when you’re feeling a little under the weather.

The sautéed prawns with spicy-sour black pepper sauce, topped with crispy noodles, were divine. The sauce had a subtle kick hidden beneath the sweet flavour. A little insulted, we declined the offer of a knife and fork, but in hindsight perhaps we should have accepted as it was not the easiest dish to eat due to the size of the succulent prawns! A 2008 Riesling from Alsace, France, which was lighter than your average Riesling, was the ideal match for these prawns.

An interesting looking braised goose web and pomelo peel in abalone sauce followed. The pomelo peel had been boiled for five hours in fish stock, giving it a wonderful melt-in-the-mouth texture and a salty-sweet taste. The braised goose web (literally a goose foot!) had more meat on it than the chicken’s foot and was surprisingly tasty. A full-bodied 2008 Pinot Noir from Santa Maria Valley, USA went down a treat; I think this was my favourite wine of the night.

The Wagyu beef with morels, another beautifully presented dish, was a real winner. Though the beef may have been slightly chewy, the flavour shone through and I was surprised to find that the morels were even more delicious. Served in a cute little bird’s nest and accompanied by a wonderfully oaky South African Constantia Glen Three, this may well have been my favourite dish.

Compared to the rest of the dishes, the coddled young spinach in rice broth seemed rather bland. However, this was actually not a problem, and in fact I even think it needed to be bland in order to balance the richness of the other dishes. Again, I can only describe this as a comforting dish.

Fried rice is one of my favourite dishes of all time. Back when I was a really fussy eater (can you believe it?!), I would eat little else. The fried rice with barbecued pork and preserved vegetables did not disappoint. In fact it was so good that as soon as it was presented before me, I pounced and forgot to capture it on camera! Oh well, we all know what chow fan looks like. Succulent char siu and preserved vegetables, the latter a traditional ingredient used less and less nowadays, will always win my heart.

To end our feast, a Spring Moon dessert was served. This was a delicious orange pudding, similar to the traditional mango variety. However, where a mango pudding is perpetually sweet, this orange pudding maintained a refreshing sharpness to it. For me, this was ideal as I adore sour things and found the 2007 Chateau Belingard Monbazillac from Bordeaux that went with it already far too sweet for my taste.

Service at Spring Moon also reflects the elegance and class I alluded to at the beginning of this review. Although service between courses may have been slow, the waiters were more than attentive and made us feel relaxed and very well looked after.

The ‘wine pairing promotion’ costs $1,388 per person and is available until the 14th March – but do not fear, if my ravings for any particular dish have left your mouth  watering, you can still order them after this special menu has ended (just remember to call three days in advance). They change the promotion with frequency; sometimes it might be a tea pairing promotion or a focus on one aspect of Cantonese cuisine, but if this meal is anything to go by, I’m sure they will all be excellent. Frankly I’m glad we booked our table when we did as I love a good wine-pairing!

Spring Moon 1/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, 19-21 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
2696 6760 www.peninsula.com/Hong_Kong/en/Dining/Spring_Moon/default.aspx

Check out more from Ale on her fab blog, The Dim Sum Diaries!

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