Date of review: November 25, 2011 | Reviewed by:
Located at the end of the quiet cul de sac of Kau U Fong, The Chairman is a two-level restaurant that is both homey and modern. Simply decorated with wooden floors and white walls, there is a surprising attention to detail from the different shaped and sized plates for each dish, to a little custom-made stool for ladies’ handbags that are more commonly seen in high-end European restaurants. The downsides are that due to the small space and acoustics, it can be a little loud and it is also worth remembering to bring a shawl (for ladies, or a jumper for gentlemen), as the air-conditioning can be fierce.
The menu at Chairman is not large, specialising in traditional Cantonese cuisine. Whether it is the tight focus or the emphasis placed on the seasonal, local and premium ingredients used, the food at Chairman is some of the best Chinese we’ve had for a while. For seafood lovers, starting with the steamed crab in Chinese wine is a must. The crab itself is fresh and sweet, but the star of the dish is the excellent sauce made with aged shao xing wine and chicken oil. Best of all are the sides of homemade flat rice noodles that are designed to be tossed in the sauce, making sure every last drop is savoured. The meat dishes are equally impressive: the signature soy sauce chicken is a small but delectable portion of succulent free-range chicken from the New Territories, braised in a sauce that’s been made with eighteen different spices and premium soy sauce from Kowloon Soy Sauce Garden. If bringing guests who are new to Chinese food, the braised spare ribs with preserved plums and caramelised black vinegar is an unchallenging yet moreish introduction to Cantonese cuisine. For vegetables, make sure to ask for the freshest seasonal vegetables cooked in fish broth. While usually the broth is just an accompaniment, in this case, the fish soup is a dish in its own right, as it is both cleansing yet deeply flavourful, with just enough white pepper to give it a touch of heat. Finally, for dessert, the homemade almond soup is perfectly thick, creamy and not too sweet; a fantastic end to a wonderful meal.
While there is only one wine available by the glass (a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a standard and conventional pairing that works with most Cantonese dishes), the wine selection by the bottle at Chairman is decent. Wines come from both the old and new world and the wine list provides helpful tasting notes as well as scores from Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate.
The staff at Chairman are well-trained, knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. As we were obviously keen to try far too many dishes for two people, our waiter offered to downsize our portions, as well as the prices so that we could fit more variety in.
A plentiful meal for two with wine and live seafood came to HK$1,400 for two people. Considering the quality of the produce and the impressive execution of the dishes, this is good value for money.