Food | Gastronomic wonderland


When one thinks of a Cantonese restaurant, immediately, the image of individuals talking loudly while sharing their food comes vividly to mind. However, in recent years, many sophisticated Chinese restaurants opening their doors to discerning diners offer a Western style dining ambiance with exceptional, authentic, Chinese food. For those who prefer quiet, elegant dinners with close friends, these venues are outstanding and exquisite. Lai Heen at The Ritz-Carlton, Macau is one of these gems.
Situated on the 51/F of The Ritz-­Carlton, Macau, Lai Heen’s interior design is stunning. The ambiance brings you back to Macau’s Chinese and Portuguese colonial past. At the entrance corridor, a waterfall welcomes guests with soothing sounds of water and lit-up waves, reminiscent of the old trading port of Macau. The corridor is decorated with intricate patterns hollowed out to decorate walls and ceramic vase chandeliers, creating a majestic and refined atmosphere.
The main dining area is carefully decorated with classic China vessels and decorations. Blue glass pendants suspend from the four-meter high ceiling. When paired with the ceramic vase chandeliers, a sense of classic sophistication is portrayed. The walls are embellished with beautiful motifs crafted from thousands of pieces of Azulejo ceramic tile work.
Named after different precious stones from ancient Chinese culture, the five private dining rooms are ideal for intimate and celebratory occasions. Some rooms are separated by movable sliding partitions for flexible table arrangements.
With such an impressive interior, there is no doubt that the dishes also marvel the palate. The man behind the delicious creations is Executive Sous Chef Bill Fu, who heads the culinary team at Lai Heen. A highly experienced chef, Chef Bill brings over 25 years’ experience to the restaurant.
“I started getting into the business of cooking when I was a teenager. At that time I wanted to earn money during the summer vacation, but then it became a lifelong passion,” he says.
A true Hong Konger, Chef Bill began his career in the culinary world in the Hong Kong catering industry. Both his father and uncle were chefs so following in their footsteps, he started to cook part-time as a teenager in his father’s establishment. With a growing specialism in exceptional Cantonese fare, he then went on to build his career at local Hong Kong eateries before moving on to key roles at the Excelsior Hotel, The Peninsula Hong Kong and The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong.
Young and ambitious, he points out that he likes to spend time with older chefs and learn from them, and build upon their knowledge. “I like to learn their technical skills, but they can be stubborn and sometime resist new ideas. I am younger, and that is why I like to experiment and come up with new things. Tradition is important, but innovation should also be recognized as an important personality trait for a chef,” he comments.
Chef Bill comes to The Ritz-Carlton, Macau from the The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong where he played a key role in achieving two-star Michelin restaurant recognition for the hotel’s Cantonese restaurant, Tin Lung Heen. Now, he will ensure the restaurant is nothing short of outstanding in the quest for similar Michelin recognition.
Indeed, dishes at Lai Heen are delicious, and aesthetically, the presentations are artistic and bold. Char-grilled barbecued Ibérico pork is a must-have item on the menu. Chef Bill purposefully chose the pork neck to be the main ingredient, char-grilled to perfection will a bit of sweetness. Due to the high fat content, it is juicy and rich in flavors, with various tantalizing textures.
Another wonder is the special braised pork belly with preserved vegetable. Traditionally, it is a dish that is created to go with rice, but at Lai Heen, Chef Bill tones down the savouriness, so that it can be enjoyed on its own. The meat is succulent and soft. Once put in the mouth, the fat begins to melt, which imparts a buttery taste on the tongue, then, the sweetness from the sugar sprinkled on top kicks in, finally combining with the fragrant aroma of the preserved vegetable. This might not be the healthiest creation on the planet, but I am sure a lot of us will happily die from heart attack after savoring it. After all, with such incredible talent, Chef Bill definitely has the license to kill.


Categories Taste of Edesia