We waded through a cloud of expensive perfume, turned a corner, and there SHÉ was.
SHÉ — pronounced “shuh” (from the Chinese character for residence, 舍) — lives in the Lane Crawford department store within IFC Mall. It had its grand opening a couple of weeks ago, and has a huge terrace overlooking Victoria Harbour. With only 110 seats, it’s the kind of place you’d really need to book seats for, especially for major holidays (it’s worth noting, for instance, that this is now one of the city’s prime spots for watching the Lunar New Year fireworks show).
Like most contemporary Chinese food establishments, SHÉ focuses its specialties on dim sum dishes — which is only available at lunch time — and has also billed itself as a place serving “a health-conscious and contemporary interpretation of local Chinese cuisine.”
We tried an assortment of dim sum, starting with the rose gold har gao prawn dumplings (HK$52) and tricolor steamed dumplings with prawn, vegetables and pine nuts (HK$48).
The dumpling skin had beetroot in it to give off that rose pink glow, and there was a bit of gold brushed onto it for embellishment. It had nice, thick cuts of juicy prawns that weren’t mushed into a pulp, which happens all too often with har gao produced by an unloving hand. However, the skin was a little bit thicker and starchier than a prawn dumpling you’d find at a typical dim sum establishment.
The tricolour dumplings had a notably less starchy skin, and a nice crunch from the pine nuts — aside from that, the flavors were fine, but didn’t deviate too far from the usual mixed-filling steamed dumplings that you’d get at most dim sum spots.
The dim sum item that truly stood out, however, was a serving of their stuffed truffle balls with minced meat and mushrooms (HK$56). The smell of truffle hits you hard at first bite — though, fortunately, it’s not overpowering, either. It’s a wonderful complement to the juicy meat. However, the balls are coated in poppy seeds, so get ready to fish those suckers out from the nooks and crannies of your teeth between every bite.
This being a dim sum meal and all, the food is served alongside traditional Chinese tea. However, this being a contemporary Cantonese dim sum restaurant, too, we also got a glass of one of their “tea-tails” — tea-based cocktails inspired by similar drinks that were popular in 1930s Shanghai.
We went for the Old Shanghai (HK$118), made up of Chinese spicy sugar, black labels whisky, yuzu soda, Woodford bourbon, which was smooth with a slightly sweet acidity from the yuzu soda. It made for an excellent nighttime accompaniment to the dim sum.
On to the cold dishes. We tried a light and refreshing sesame okra salad (HK$78) and a spicy beef shank (HK$138). Both were solid, but note that the portion sizes are definitely on the compact side.
We also tried two prawn dishes: caviar shrimp toast (HK$88) and the Yin Yang-style salted egg yolk and horseradish prawns (HK$268), which were both excellent. The shrimp toast was great fun to eat — crunchy, deep-fried toast with juicy shrimp that’s topped with a bit of salty caviar. The contrasts in texture really enhanced the experience.
The salted egg yolk shrimp was astonishingly good — a light, crispy salted egg batter topped with a few flakes of cereal. The horseradish prawns had a vague spice, and was not too overwhelmingly creamy or drowning in sauce.
As an eatery that bills itself as health-conscious, at this point, we are left wondering if this procession of deep-fried items is indeed yielding a healthy meal … but alas, tasty food is tasty food. Perhaps best not to overthink it, we decide.
Like all Chinese restaurants, SHÉ is also a fan of abalone, so we also tried one of their signature abalone dishes: the crispy fresh abalone with salt and pepper (HK$238).
We’re quite partial to a bit of abalone and salt and pepper dishes, and were looking forward to sinking our teeth into this one, but were a little bit disappointed. There was a considerable amount of time spent chewing on the abalone, which distracted us from the taste, as we were simply focusing on trying to break it down.
The flavor was solid — everything was nicely seasoned, though there was a slight sogginess to the batter, and that extra chew from the abalone made this dish a little bit of a slog to get through.
Then, SHÉ’s wok-fried supreme lobster noodles (HK$388) arrived at the table in all its orange crustacean glory.
What’s in it: Nicely seasoned soy sauce noodles that weren’t too salty, plus a few fresh red chilies in the mix that gave the dish a gentle kick. There were also a few sizeable chunks of juicy lobster meat. The elements all came together beautifully, and was an example of Cantonese food at its finest.
SHÉ’s fish maw nourishing pot (HK$298) was just as good — a bowl of hearty fish maw soup, which was not too heavy or oily, and had a slight fruity hint thanks to the goji berries. It’s a nice, palate-cleansing dish to have in between all the really heavily flavored dishes.
SHÉ also does a pretty tasty honey-glazed char siu. The kitchen uses Iberico pork, and serves it on a hotplate with small flames underneath to keep the meat warm throughout the meal.
We also tried the wok-fried M5 Wagyu beef with shishito peppers (HK$268) and braised pea shoot in supreme broth (HK$128) — both simple dishes with very little seasoning added, meant to showcase the quality of the ingredients rather than express complex flavor profiles.
The same could be said for desserts like the purple lava buns (HK$52), and stewed birds nest with sweet papaya (HK$128). The lava buns in particular were vaguely sweet — although perhaps not sweet enough to satisfy those with a sweet tooth — and were kept simple and straightforward.
Like a lot of contemporary Chinese restaurants, there are a lot of frills and fancy whistles — some of it may be deemed a bit unnecessary by some — but otherwise, our meal at SHÉ was an enjoyable experience that we’d recommend.
SHÉ is at Portion A of Shop 3025-3026 & 3031-3066, Level 3, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central
Reservations: +852 2110 0153
Mon-Sun, 10am to 11pm
MTR: Central (approx. 5 minute walk)