What is Cantonese CuisineCantonese cuisine hails from the Guangdong province in China. It is one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of Chinese cuisine. The capital of Guangdong is Guangzhou, a port city, which is why seafood and fish feature so heavily in Cantonese cuisine. Cantonese cuisine focuses on subtle flavors, unlike Szechuan cuisine, which revolves around spicy flavors and chili peppers. Because the focus is on fresh ingredients, it’s unnecessary to heavily season the dishes. Instead, the goal is to highlight the flavors of the fresh ingredients themselves. Dim sum is just one type of Cantonese cuisine. Other Cantonese dishes are often stir fried or steamed. Dishes feature both roasted and barbecued meats, like the famous bbq pork, or char siew. The meals always include fried rice, but in a unique way. In Cantonese tasting menus, fried rice is served towards the end of the meal, just before dessert. At first, we wondered why. In American Chinese food, the fried rice is always served with the meal. And, in each of these multi-course Cantonese feasts, by the time the rice course arrived I was always stuffed to the brim. We learned when dining at Man Ho in Macau, though, that it is typical for rice to come at the end of a Cantonese meal when entertaining guests. That way, if the guests had not filled up on the rest of the meal, they had the rice to top them off. I liked this notion, although these mega meals of Cantonese in Hong Kong could never leave someone hungry at the end. What I also noticed is that there is just an elegance to Cantonese cuisine, particularly at the restaurants where we’ve eaten them. Thoughtful presentation and garnishes on sophisticated china patterns. It is light years away from the messy Szechuan meals we’ve eaten in Chicago, or the authentic tea houses in Hong Kong. This is Cantonese at its finest.
Cantonese in Hong Kong – DynastyOne of our first experiences with Cantonese in Hong Kong included a dim sum lunch at Dynasty in the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong. More recently, we experienced a Glenlivet whisky pairing dinner at Dynasty. Each meal was superb, highlighting the traditional flavors of Cantonese dishes. During both occasions, we tried some of Dynasty’s signature dishes, including their famous bbq pork, and their baked crab. Each meal was fabulous, with friendly service that was a little surprising for how modern and contemporary the restaurant felt. One thing that that is not modern, though, was the classically famous Dynasty china pattern. The woman in green, gold, and red adorns every dish that arrives at a table at Dynasty Hong Kong.
Cantonese in Hong Kong – Spring MoonWalking into Spring Moon, in the Peninsula Hong Kong, is like stepping back in time. Although opened in the eighties, Spring Moon exudes the colonial past of Hong Kong. A towering dark wood staircase is offset by stained glass and Chinese antiques. Renovated to resemble how the restaurant might have looked in 1928, I felt like an early Hollywood starlet just walking in. The food at Spring Moon is equally elegant. First, we talked with their tea sommelier, who chose the right tea for each person at the table, based on what they liked, as well as our suggested menu. Before sitting down to this Cantonese meal, I had no idea there was such a thing as a tea sommelier. Our menu included imported Hungarian pork used for their char siew, which gave Dynasty a run for their money on the best bbq pork in Hong Kong. Sorry to say to Spring Moon, but I still prefer Dynasty’s version, although Eric was won over by the Hungarian pork. I think we have to taste each dish several more times to be sure. Happily. Some of the other stand out dishes from Chef Frankie Tang included a sweet fried eel topped with a mountain of fried garlic, a fungus (mushroom) dish that was sweet and tangy, and a tender pork spare rib served with an orange-tinted pickled pear.
Cantonese in Hong Kong – Lung King HeenIt’s not often that one gets to dine at a three Michelin Star Cantonese restaurant, with a historically famous Hong Kong Chef. Executive Chef Chan Yan Tak offers amazingly delicate dim sum and Cantonese cuisine at Lung King Heen, at the Four Seasons Hong Kong. Along with a tall flute of pink champagne, we dined on classic dumplings layered with gold leaf, Chef Tak’s famous abalone tarts, and fresh lime pudding. We also ate their version of roast suckling pig, and roast goose with plum sauce. They make all of their roasted meats in a special bbq room in the bowels of a hotel. When we met Chef Tak, all Eric wanted to do was tag along to see their bbq room. Perhaps next visit.
Cantonese in Macau – Man HoIt may seem a little odd to add two restaurants in Macau to our list of where to eat Cantonese in Hong Kong. But, many people who dine in Hong Kong, also visit Macau, just a one hour ferry ride away. Besides, dining at these two Macau Cantonese restaurants solidified my interest in learning more about Cantonese cuisine. We had two meals at Man Ho, in Galaxy Macau, a large hotel, gambling, dining, and shopping complex in the Taipa area of Macau. First, we ate a lovely Cantonese dinner in one of their private dining rooms. After, we experienced a dim sum feast in their main dining room. We first walked through our tea options, with Edward, Man Ho’s personal tea sommelier. It’s becoming a thing for us now. It’s almost as though we need a tea sommelier in order to fully enjoy a Cantonese meal. Edward was fabulous. He also served us much of our dinner, explaining in detail not only the ingredients, but also about the culture of tea and the history of Cantonese cuisine. Edward alone is a reason to visit Man Ho in Macau. Another reason to visit, the beef. We ate a lot of good dishes, including roasted porks and roast goose. But, the standout for us was the beef. During our dim sum lunch, we dined on a simple stir fried beef with beans. We assumed it was Wagyu beef, but when we met Chef Andy Ng, he informed us the beef was from Texas. I was stunned. All of our dishes at Man Ho were fabulous and served with attention to detail, particularly the desserts. A warmed custard bun was served in the shape of a pig, because the chef heard a rumor that Eric likes pork. A chilled, crisp mango sago was served alongside a sweet strawberry mochi ball. Chef Ng, and his team at the JW Marriott Macau offer luxurious Cantonese cuisine, in an approachable setting. A must eat destination in Galaxy Macau. Location: Man Ho Macau is located at the JW Marriott Macau, within the Galaxy Macau complex, in Taipa.
Cantonese in Macau – Lai HeenOur absolute last meal in Macau, we sat down for a multi-course dim sum tasting menu at the highest Chinese restaurant in Macau. Lai Heen, on the 51st floor of the Ritz-Carlton Macau, has a commanding view over the entire Galaxy Macau complex. The decor of Lai Heen is impressive, to say the least. Dark woods, crystal panels, blue Portuguese Azuelos, textured walls. Each inch of Lai Heen, including the ceiling is covered in thoughtful decor. We received a tour of the restaurant and its private dining rooms, and I was simply gobsmacked at how sensuous Lai Heen feels. I was also thoroughly impressed with the dishes. Roasted bbq pork, suckling pig, and crispy shrimp toast were served on black slate. Dumplings made with orange peels and gold leaf, accompanied a tall glass of Louis Roederer champagne. Fresh rice rolls made with white truffles. Everything about the meal exuded luxury, and I would expect nothing less from the Ritz-Carlton.
Dining on Cantonese in Hong KongDining at any of these Cantonese restaurants in Hong Kong and Macau is a luxurious treat. Elegant and sophisticated dishes. Well thought out classical Cantonese menus. Modern interpretations of the classics. Fabulous attention to detail and impeccable service. I would recommend each of them entirely. But, dining on luxury Cantonese in Hong Kong and Macau is not cheap. Dim sum dishes start around 70 HKD, but full meals and tasting menus start around $100 per person. These might not be dining destinations for the every day, but are well worth the splurge on occasion. Of course we will return to Hong Kong, and hopefully to Macau, in the near future. Please share your recommendations on the best places to eat Cantonese in Hong Kong in the comments below!
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.