Hong Kong- T'ang Court- ✪✪✪

Hong Kong's most recent arrival to the Three Star ranking, T'ang Court is in the Langham Hotel in what is affectionately known as TST (Tsim Sha Tsui, a main business district on the Peninsula side of Hong Kong). The name refers to the Tang Dynasty, and the restaurant's two rotating head chefs (Kwong Wei Keung and Tony Su) try to dutifully replicate the culinary achievements thereof. 

This is also the least-expensive Three Star I've been to yet. and that lower price seems to translate directly into lower quality, based on my experience here. 

It's one of only three Cantonese-style restaurants in the world with Three Star status (for now...), so I was very excited to try this place out. That excitement was misplaced. 

 T'ang Court Main Entrance

T'ang Court Main Entrance

HONG KONG, CHINA

SERVICE: 6.0/10

FOOD: 5.5/10

PRICE PAID: $45 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)

VALUE/MONEY: 8.0/10

FINAL SCORE: 6.5/10

 $320 HKD? Yes please. That's about $41.

$320 HKD? Yes please. That's about $41.

I must mention here that the set lunch is an unbelievable deal- $320 HKD is about $41, so even with the Hong Kong-required 10% service fee it's less than $50 for a 3-star experience. Oddly. a very similar set lunch is offered toward the back of the menu that had, to my imperfect judgment, 2-3 extra courses for a mere $3,000 HKD, about 10x the regular set lunch. Though I'm sure those extra courses were great, I opted to see what $41 can buy you in a world-class restaurant. 

 T'ang Court Interior

T'ang Court Interior

To transport you as fully as I can to the vibe this restaurant generates, try to imagine a halfway house between Arabian Nights and a Midwestern Conference Room, complete with large-scale art prints and dramatic lighting. Exuberant & Awkward would be the kindest label one might apply. 

 First (Bites?) Guava Juice, 6/10

First (Bites?) Guava Juice, 6/10

The first question the waiter asks is whether I'd prefer Mango, Guava, or Orange juice. Guava felt pretty exotic, so that's where I landed. 6/10. Sugary, but clearly made by hand from actual guavas. A refreshing but, honestly, minimalist kickoff. 

 Course 1: Sauces

Course 1: Sauces

 Course 1: Rolls, 6/10 

Course 1: Rolls, 6/10 

Next out marched a very small procession of pork, shrimp, and spring rolls. All are quite good, but not a ton better than you'd get at a decent tea house or dim sum place, of which Hong Kong has thousands and even Chicago has dozens. Also, not to be a prick, but the presentation was a bit oily and splashy; could have been plated more neatly. 6/10.

 Course 2: Goose + Pork + Jellyfish, 7/10

Course 2: Goose + Pork + Jellyfish, 7/10

A really interesting combo of jellyfish, goose with plum sauce, and pork. The jellyfish tastes like bland, undercooked rice noodles, with the small slices of bell peppers adding a lot to the plain flavor profile. The pork is really good- perfectly cooked, and beautiful. The goose is rich and quite dense. 7/10 overall.

 Course 3: Chicken + Fish + Black Mushroom Soup, 5/10

Course 3: Chicken + Fish + Black Mushroom Soup, 5/10

Some really interesting flavors in an otherwise bland soup. The broth has strong notes of, I kid you not, Coca Cola. The mushrooms themselves taste a lot like Budweiser beer- hoppy and barley-like. 5/10. 

 Course 4: Garoupa + Broccoli, 3/10

Course 4: Garoupa + Broccoli, 3/10

This main course- Garoupa fish in soy sauce with Chinese broccoli- was, at best, pretty plain, and at worst badly cooked and carelessly plated. Once again, a landing strip of soy sauce greased the fish's path as it was tossed on by someone who did not give a shit how it ends up looking. Unevenly cooked and with a halfhearted attempt at steamed veggies that doesn't really even things out. 3/10.

 Course 5: Rice + Shrimp + Scallop + Crab, 8/10

Course 5: Rice + Shrimp + Scallop + Crab, 8/10

This dish nearly saved things. The shrimp in this dish pops with delightful freshness- feels like crunching a million small air bubbles in your mouth. 8/10.

 Final Bites: "T'ang Court Delight," 3/10

Final Bites: "T'ang Court Delight," 3/10

Cheekily titled the "T'ang Court Delight," I'm unclear on what exactly could be delightful an egg custard with the rock-solidness of a goddamned billiard ball such that one almost chips one's tooth upon at the first bite. The heart shape was weird- it was November, nowhere near Valentine's, and I was a bit stunned that this was their idea of dessert. 3/10.

 The Bill

The Bill

The check, charmingly, is presented in a chromed-up metal box that makes JUST THE MILDEST POINT EVER that you have dined in a fancy place and everyone who isn't grabbing said check needs to be impressed with you. Hilarious to me that this is, by far, the least-expensive Three Star I have yet been to, putting it on track to be the cheapest Three Star in the world. Just sayin'.