There are eight major regional cuisines in China: Shandong, Sichuan, Anhui, Guangdong, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang. However, the four best known and most famous ones are Shandong, Sichuan, Guangdong, and Jiangsu.
Huaiyang cuisine, the most famous sub-regional style under Jiangsu cuisine, is food from the area at the middle and lower parts of the Yangzhe River and the Huai River. It is characterized by its lighter flavors which tend towards sour (from use of local vinegar) and slightly sweet. It is less salty, spicy, and more refined than food further north. Seafood (especially from the river) and pork dominate as the protein of choice.
One-Michelin starred Zhejiang Heen focuses on Huaiyang cuisine, though it incorporates food from surrounding areas of the larger Jiangnan region, which include Jiangsu in the north and Zhejiang in the south. Executive Chef Pan Jiulong takes additional inspiration from outside of China, creating dishes with a slight Japanese or even Western influence.
We've visited Zhejiang Heen a number of times and we enjoy it. The restaurant offers most of the classic Shanghainese / Jiangnan dishes as well as a few signature fusion dishes.
One of the restaurant's signature dishes is Minced Meat in Rice Crusts. In short, it consists of crispy rice (鍋巴) "cones" filled with a flavorful mixture of diced pork and vegetables. It was tasty, though I'm not sure if the flavors necessarily blew me away. Honestly, it reminded me bit of those Asian fusion lettuce wraps that we see in the US a lot.
One of my favorite Jiang Nan dishes is River Shrimp that has been stir fried in dragon well (long jing 龍井) tea leaves. River shrimp is so delicate, tender, and has that springy-ness of fresh shrimp that I love.
Another favorite is the hearty Lion's Head Casserole, a hearty pork meatball cooked in a flavorful sauce together with bok choy.
For those that don't want to deal with the bones of a whole fish, you can order a lazy man's version where they take out all the bones and stir fry the fish for you.
There are many vegetable choices. We went with an interesting stir fry of long beans with fresh bamboo shoots, which was delicious.
General Thoughts - Zhejiang Heen Wan Chai
We're spoiled here in Wan Chai with many, many excellent choices for good Chinese food from all different regions. Overall, the food here is very good. We did have a bit of trouble communicating with our server in English (Mandarin Chinese sometimes works better). She really recommended the fish head, which we did not order because some people at our table were squeamish about it. Perhaps next time I should try it.
They do the classic Shanghainese dishes quite well. I don't think I've had enough the the fusion dishes (save the rice cones) to really comment on the rest of the dishes. All in all, it's a fine place to enjoy solid Jiangnan cooking. We took friends who had Shanghainese roots and they appreciated the quality of the food.
Is it my favorite Jiangnan restaurant? I'm not sure. There's plenty of competition from the likes of Crystal Jade Jiang Nan, Old Bailey, and other restaurants. The food is on par but not necessarily better. I also don't love the decor and ambiance at Zhejiang Heen, especially compared to the gorgeous (and pricier) Old Bailey. Having said that, we have come back multiple times because it is convenient to home and still offers very good food.
HK$150 - $400
2/F & 3/F, Kiu Fu Commercial Building
300-306 Lockhart Road
Run by the Zhejiang Fraternity Association
This is the twenty-second post in the updated #50Postsin50Days – Take 2 Challenge. Other posts in this series will be added to the bottom of the original post.