Date of review: October 11, 2015 | Reviewed by: Charmaine Mok
There’s a certain drama that comes with Golden Flower, apparent from the moment you approach the restaurant. Thick, dramatic tassels and oversized golden coins line the walls and ceiling at the entrance. At your feet is a magnificent cloisonné mosaic. Inside, the opulent interiors include an imposing tea master station, resplendent with high shelves stocked with beautiful teapots and Chinese vases. There are the eponymous golden chrysanthemums that decorate the space, adorning the dramatic screen and appearing as fabric decals on the backs of chairs. The waitresses don silk uniforms designed by Rene Ozorio, adding to the entire narrative of Chinese elegance.
Chef Liu Guozhu presents exquisite yet understated cooking. The master chef specialises in the art of imperial Tan cuisine, which blends the best of northern and southern Chinese cooking, and coaxes out the essence of the ingredients it uses through incredibly labour-intensive processes. The superior chicken stock that forms the base of many Tan dishes, for example, is made fresh each day, simmered slowly over eight hours before being deemed good enough to be served. Fresh clams and jasmine flowers are served in this golden elixir, the delicate nature of the shellfish and the buds remarkably never overshadowed by its rich essence—a testament to Liu’s culinary acumen and a deep understanding of his ingredients.
In addition to the Tan classics, Liu’s kitchen deftly tackles dishes from three of the eight great cuisines of China: Cantonese, Sichuan and Shandong. The menu is divided into these categories, with Yue, Chuan and Lu representing each region, respectively. A humble dish of jellyfish heads and Chinese cabbage served with aged vinegar takes us by surprise with its intensity of flavour and balance of textures. Burnished, tender roast spring pigeon is enlivened with just a spritz of lime juice.
Can’t decide on dessert? Some options are available in taster portions, such as the dumplings, so you can compile a platter of four different sweet treats.
Wynn’s master cellar is well known for its breadth and diversity, and those with deep pockets or luck at the nearby casino tables will find plenty to splash their cash on. There are also Chinese wines, such as from Shan Xi’s Grace Vineyard. However, we are always impressed by the premium tea service, which truly complements the delicate nature of the cooking.
Befitting the royal cuisine, Golden Flower’s level of service is fit for kings and queens. Waitresses boast a high level of knowledge about each of the dishes, and can make suggestions for compiling a well balanced and perfectly proportioned meal. Teacups are always diligently topped up and the teas kept at optimum temperature and brew strength.
A meal for two with wine and service comes to under HK$1,300 which is exceptional value for the level of cooking. The tasting menus with premium items such as fish maw and seafood will drive up the price, but we have found that sometimes the more humble items can be equally satistying for the palate as well as the pocketbook.