Add a local twist to your brunch this weekend!
You might not think you know Tycoon Tann, an unassuming, modern Chinese restaurant on Wellington Street; but anyone who has wandered along the strip of trendy food spots has undoubtedly passed it and thought, “hey, this place looks cute”. In fact, if you’re a pair of friends named Nina and Hannah, you have actually been inside and had a glass of wine on a Sunday Funday afternoon after another fabulous Sassy brunch! So when you arrive at your location and realise that the place you thought you’d never heard of is actually one you’ve spent time at, you know things are going to go well…
Read more: Hong Kong Dining: Chinese Food
Tycoon Tann specialise in modern Chinese cuisine and unique drinks. It appears to be a small bar at first, as the ground floor is flanked by large wooden structures, metallic finishes and an impressive floor-to-ceiling bar. The industrial-chic ground floor has a cool edge to it and most certainly doesn’t hint at being an authentic Chinese experience. But that’s the point. Tycoon Tann isn’t your classic local eatery, but rather a sophisticated take on an old ideal.
Whisked up the stairs to the second floor, Hannah and I were greeted with huge smiles and a lot of attention from the staff, who went out of their way to ensure that our dining experience was a memorable and enjoyable one. The décor upstairs runs along a similar theme in its metallic accents, but there is a much less industrial feel to the space. Blue and yellow pops of colour hint at a more relaxed aesthetic, with more light and air coming through than the bar on the bottom. The room is intimate but you have your space away from other tables to drink, and eat and talk about silly boys and weekend adventures.
The weekend brunch at Tycoon Tann can include free-flow Perrier-Jouët Champagne (optional at $648 per person, including soft drinks and Chinese tea), which was served immediately as we sat down. You also start out with their signature cocktail – a surprising combination of flavours and showmanship when served; a cinnamon stick is lit up with a blowtorch to enhance its flavour, which you can then add as you please to the absolutely DEEEEEEELICIOUS tea-cup-cocktail. Like, hello, a customisable drink? I’ll take that. The presentation is a nod to the rest of your time at Tycoon Tann – everything is served with flair and tailoring. The free-flow champagne is the real deal too; with empty glasses being filled as soon as they’re placed back down on the table after your last sip. You’re never short of bubbles and isn’t that exactly how a Sunday should be?
If we’re being honest here; I wasn’t sure I was going to like this brunch. I’ve had some pretty bad experiences with Chinese food since living in Hong Kong and I didn’t think it was really the type I wanted to indulge in on a Sunday morning. But Tycoon Tann was an array of endless pleasant surprises!
Firstly, neither Hannah nor I eat pork so be aware that there is a lot more on offer than we sampled. And it all sounded fantastic, too. The staff were so accommodating and worked around our dietary requirements like it ain’t no thang.
We started off with a selection of appetisers and starters – from traditional Dim Sum to, what is potentially one of the coolest/craziest dishes I have ever received at a table, Mini Octopus tossed with Sichuan Spicy Sauce. Which, sure, might sound harmless to most. But I do not eat octopus. Or squid (whatever the difference is supposed to be). I barely touch calamari. But considering that I had already rejected half the menu because of my no-pork-policy and the fact that it arrived in a clear bowl that was LITERALLY steaming the entire time; I felt obligated to at least try. And personally, it just wasn’t for me, but Hannah actually really enjoyed it (we were both pretty hesitant to try so well done there lady).
The rest of the starters, however, were absolutely killer. Crispy Spring Rolls with Shredded Chicken and Chilli Sauce; Bamboo Pitch and Yellow Fungus Vegetarian Dumplings (which were so freakin’ delicious it was astounding) and the winner of the first round – Chilled Greenhouse Cucumber with Black Garlic and Garlic Sauce. The cucumber was super crunchy and fresh and the thick, rich sauce gave us all the feels for the starters. All of which came as a total surprise because they’re not what you expect and are 100 times tastier than you thought possible.
Moving on now to the main course and Tycoon Tann’s signature dish: Peking Duck. I’m a massive fan of Peking Duck; it’s something I was introduced to when I was younger at a Chinese restaurant in South Africa with my Gran and cousin, and something that has stuck with me ever since. Again, the service here was excellent and our waitress showed us the two ways in which Tycoon Tann arranges their pancakes: the first is the traditional cucumber and spring onion and the second is a fresh, zingy spin on the classic dish with pineapple, ginger and brown sugar.
These elements, all used in conjunction with Hoisin Sauce, added a whole new level to what I had previously experienced with this dish. A level I am now a lifelong fan of. The pancakes are individually wrapped and placed on your plate to be accompanied by a piece of perfectly cooked, crispy-skinned oh-so-damn-delicious Peking Duck. It’s interactive and so incredibly tasty that I had to take a moment after each pancake. Sorry Hannah, hold the phone, I’m busy.
But not to worry, Hannah was soon to have moments of her own with her Braised Bean Curd with Black Truffles. This dish looked and smelt amazing, and we both sat in silence for some time just in awe of how much we were enjoying this food. The Bean Curd was super tasty and so soft that it almost escaped the chopsticks a few times.
Finally, we come to dessert. There are four options to choose from and after the smorgasbord of flavours and new taste sensations we had just experienced, we needed a little help from the staff with what to order. Perfectly suited to end our meal, we were suggested the Purple Sweet Potato Dumplings in Okinawa Brown Sugar and Ginger Soup. The dumplings were a huge hit – they were that divine combination of gooey, sticky dumplings with a just-sweet-enough filling that was bursting with flavour. And they paired excellently with the soup, a very strong ginger flavour that served so well as a palate cleanser for the rest of our food. This was exactly the right way to end what was a decadent, but not too heavy, dining experience.
Tycoon Tann has surpassed my expectations and we had a wonderful brunch experience there. The service was excellent and incredibly efficient (without it ever feeling rushed), the champagne flowed freely and the food was delectable. Everything we ate was delicious; the ingredients were fresh and obviously of a high standard to produce such great dishes. I was so pleasantly surprised by the brunch menu, which is vast and includes many modern twists on traditional dishes. It’s available from 12 – 4pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays and is definitely worth checking out!
P.S. Just a heads up – take a jacket with you because it can get a little chilly upstairs!
Tycoon Tann, 74 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, www.tycoontann.com