If you fancy being shot up to the 101st floor for a dim sum meal or a piece of roast pork, then add Dragon Seal to your list of places to go eat. Located at the recently unveiled ICC tower (a proud and protruding 118-stories tall), this obscenely high-end Chinese restaurant is the latest project by local chef and food show presenter Wong Wing-chee. Having already established his name with a successful chain of eateries under the Dragon King brand, this lofty new enterprise is Wong’s attempt to zero in on the big money-making crowd from the offices of the neighbouring investment banks.
Inside, the main dining room is wrapped in full-length windows specially designed to exploit the jaw-dropping view. The space also boasts a long, marble-topped bar, tailored for pre-dinner drinks selected from an expensive wine list. Glass tube chandeliers hang from the ceiling and tabletops are outfitted with white linens and polished silverware. The set-up actually looks more fitting for a French fine dining establishment than your classic Cantonese restaurant – and it’s exactly the effect Wong was going for.
Parts of the menu have also been noticeably fusion-ised. For example, taking a cue from western dining tradition, dishes culled from the set dinner menus are served as individually portioned courses as opposed to larger sharing plates. But despite these internationally inspired tweaks, it’s still when it comes to the classic Cantonese dishes that Dragon Seal shines. We started the meal with one of the signature double-boiled soups ($400 for two), which is served in a two-handled cooking pot generously brimming with ingredients (conpoy, chicken and pieces of sea conch the size of a baby’s fist). Petals of chrysanthemum perfume the full-bodied broth, adding a beautiful floral tinge to the nourishing soup. It’s a simple but thoroughly sophisticated course that had us waxing lyrical until the final sip. The roasted pork ($120) is equally impressive and is executed in fine detail. Each uniform, bite-sized block is striated with three distinct layers – a sheet of shatteringly crisp crackling, a thin, near-translucent film of fat and a portion of tender meat right at the bottom.
The more inventive fusion attempts, on the other hand, fare less successfully. Thai-style salad with julienned cucumbers, pomelo and sliced mantis prawn ($160) is an enticing idea, but the garlicky chilli and lime dressing is overkill and completely wipes out any remnants of the mantis prawns’ natural sea-brined sweetness. Boneless pork ribs stewed in a bright orange sweet and sour sauce is served over a round of green apple with a slice of toasted, buttered baguette to sop up the sauce. It’s good, but nothing too spectacular to justify the $60 price tag for the unbelievably scant, two-bite portion.
To end, a twist on the classic steamed longevity bun has it filled with mashed purple yam ($20 per piece) instead of sweet lotus paste. Unfortunately, this comes off a bit bland and dry. Go for the sticky red dates and coconut milk cakes ($20 per piece) instead – a much better option with its subtle, palate-cleansing sweetness.
We admire Dragon Seal’s effort to elevate Cantonese cuisine, but the food quality here is not that much above Dragon King’s, where a meal costs about half as much. We’re sure that many will still be eager to dish out the extra bucks for the novelty of dining on the 101st floor. But for us, we’re content with eating on ground level. Dorothy So
101/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Rd, West Kowloon, 2568 9886. Daily 11.30am-3pm & 6pm-11pm.
Double-boiled sea conch and chrysanthemum soup $400
Crispy roasted pork $120
Poached Belgian endive with Shanghai cabbage $150
Mantis prawn salad $160
Stewed sparerib with sweet and sour sauce x2 $60pp
Steamed purple yam longevity bun $20
Red dates and coconut milk sticky cake $20
Ten per cent service charge $99
Total (for two) $1,089