11 January 2020
New Chinese restaurants at the Happy Valley Racecourse have been rolling out fusion dishes and authentic provincial delicacies. Photos: HKJC, HKEJ
New Chinese restaurants at the Happy Valley Racecourse have been rolling out fusion dishes and authentic provincial delicacies. Photos: HKJC, HKEJ

Impressive Chinese provincial dishes

Although I am not a big fan of horse racing, I visit Happy Valley racecourse from time to time for various events and banquets.

I especially enjoy gossiping around and dreaming of winning. Anyway, regardless of the result, I am happy to be able to attend some fine dinners prepared by Jockey Club restaurants.

Walking along Wong Nai Chung Road from Entrance A to Entrance F, I realized the dinner had been arranged at a members’ box instead of some private boxes or function rooms.

Provincial is a members-only fine-dining place specializing in Chinese provincial cuisine. It is has been open on the seventh floor of members’ box for less than two years. I was shocked that I had not heard of it until this occasion.

This specialty restaurant offers a wide range of dishes from Shandong, Huaiyang, Sichuan, Yunnan and Fujian. What is more impressive is that it is led by a post-1980s head chef, Chan Yau-shing, who has studied Beijing and Shandong dishes and won top prizes in Hong Kong cooking contests.

The night kick-started with crab claws in two ways — one was marinated with a blend of Japanese sake, premium Chinese yellow wine “Nu Er Hong (daughter red)” and vintage yellow wine, while the other was cooked with Sichuan chili bean paste. The appetizer was amazingly crafted, dedicated to giving diners cold and warm bites with refreshing and intense tastes.

The Fujianese soup, Fo Tiao Qiang (literally, buddha jumps over the wall), was a lovely creation with a lot of efforts thrown in. Chan told me that pork marrow bones, dried lotus leaves, chicken and duck were first stewed in an aged premium yellow wine for eight hours the day before, and then simmered with Chinese mushroom, sea cucumbers, tendons, premium fish maws, scallops and abalones for another six hours. No wonder the soup tasted so nourishing with rich flavors.

The Sichuan poached sliced fish in hot chili oil is a popular dish at Provincial as it is not too spicy but focused more on the tingly, numbing sensation. As the Mandarin fish was boiled in Sichuan peppers along with 10 herbs, the meat was tender but well-spiced.

The meal ended with double-boiled peach gum with rose flowers for?dessert, prepared by a guest chef from Yunnan. Again it was a rejuvenating dish of exquisite flavors.

It was not surprising to see a full house there since the minimum required catering charge at Provincial is only HK$200 per guest with no service charge. If you are lucky enough, you could win the horse racing bet as well as a wonderful dining experience.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 28

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Sit back, place your bets and savor the delicacies in the racecourse’s private boxes, as long as you are a member of the Jockey Club, or have a friend who is. Photos: HKJC

a veteran journalist and food critic