Date of review: December 5, 2013 | Reviewed by:
Step out of the lift onto the fifth floor of Hung Hom’s Harbourfront Landmark into a dazzlingly bright lobby where guests are immediately greeted by staff and led down a long, red passageway, passing by a number of private dining rooms on either side. An impressive wine cellar is visible, and with an attractive display of teaware on the walls, both elements point towards the comprehensive beverage selection that awaits. Glittering chandeliers and a colour theme of green and cream, with pale pink highlights on the ceiling, welcome diners to Yu Lei's main dining room, but it is the floor-to-ceiling windows that really impress, allowing for panoramic views across to Hong Kong island and out towards Kowloon’s most easterly point. While the location is a little out of the way, the views are a welcome reward for the trip even if few others have made the effort of the journey and the almost-empty restaurant is left slightly lacking in atmosphere.
One of the signature appetisers at Yu Lei is the drunken Kyushu crab, but it requires a full ten-days’ advance ordering for full marination. While this is disappointing to those who haven’t thought far enough ahead, it is the perfect example of the care that the restaurant takes over its cuisine. Luckily there are a number of other tempting choices and the option of choosing the Chef’s signature combination appetiser plate, incorporating three, is welcome. These arrive together on one plate, beautifully presented with a floral garnishing. The chilled jellyfish with turnip is firm and delightfully chewy. Served cold, it is refreshing and well marinated. The shredded chicken with sesame and chilli sauce is beautifully moist and tender, full of flavour and complemented by the nutty sesame sauce with a light spice. The marinated beef shank with five spices is marbled with fat and full of flavour, with one bite offering a multitude of textures. For main course, the signature crispy sweet and sour pork with three kinds of vinegar, must not be missed. The dish is outstanding. A light batter with delicate crunch surrounds a pork interior that is juicy, tender, lean and full of flavour. The meat parcels are served with a thick, sticky sweet and sour sauce that is the perfect blend of taste sensations. To accompany, the stir-fried seaweed and water bamboo is highly recommended. The firm, potato-like texture of the white water bamboo, and its sprinkling of green seaweed is an attractively presented dish, the sharp seaweed acting as a great addition to the more subtle flavours of the generous pieces of water bamboo.
The sommelier is immediately on hand to help with wine selections, and thankfully so given the 60-page wine menu. He is personable and passionate about his wine, offering pairings that will go with individual dishes or a pick that will nicely accompany the entire meal. And he has plenty to choose from a fantastic selection of Burgundy and Bordeaux wines as well as more unusual bottles from Slovenia, Hungary and Lebanon, to name a few. Premium teas, aged Chinese Yellow wines and Chinese spirits are also on offer.
The service is exceptional and staff are well-versed on the menu and more than capable of recommending dishes with sound reasoning. Staff go out of their way to serve diners and ensure they have the best possible experience.
A meal for two, with wine, came to around HK$1,000 which was reasonable considering the fantastic service and unusual and delicate dishes on offer. However, be warned that this figure could be significantly higher depending on the dishes ordered.