Forget Michelin stars and multi-page menus - there's only one thing you need at Hong Kong's Yung Kee

Yung Kee, 32-40 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, tel: 00 852 2522 1624

The first Michelin Guide to Hong Kong and Macau was launched late last year. But who needs it? The Chinese themselves are the toughest food critics of all. Take Yuan Mei, the Qing dynasty poet/scholar, who, before sitting down to a banquet, would send word down to the cook that he must do better tomorrow.

So any restaurant that has lasted 67 years in the middle of Hong Kong must be doing something right. At Yung Kee, that something is roast goose, the knee-jerk choice for a great Hong Kong meal ever since a penniless kitchen apprentice called Kam Shui Fai started a simple roast-goose stall in 1942.

The fact that the restaurant, now run by Kam's sons, has just received a Michelin star is rather beside the point. The four floors of dining-rooms still heave with 1,000 diners every lunch and dinner regardless – and everybody who comes here, from George W Bush to three-star chef Thomas Keller, wants the goose.

But first, there is another house specialty: the notorious century egg (£1.50). A love it/ hate it sort of thing, the egg is preserved in a mixture of clay and ash for weeks until the yolk turns into a sticky dark tarpit that is wonderfully creamy in the mouth, and the white transforms into a clear dark-brown jelly. A little rose-pink ginger on the side tastes like a zingy pickled fruit salad. Love it.

The menu seems to go on forever, with the first seven pages devoted to lists of inedible medals, awards and gongs dating back to 1968, followed by Cantonese classics such as barbecued Chinese pork, steamed live fish and Imperial abalone. Assistant manager Kevin Kam, grandson of the restaurant's founder, helps steer my order, warning that dishes will arrive "Chinese-style" – as the kitchen prepares them.

The atmosphere is reminiscent of Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet, all hustle, bustle, noise and clatter. Large families gather around whole steamed fish, grandmas feed tots, tourists gawp and expats scare visiting rellies with century eggs under lighted columns wrapped in gold dragons. But behind the traditional clamour, you sense an intelligent rethink. Everything is smart, clean, polished. Wine glasses are Riedel and Spiegelau, linen is fine and creamy, and unlike many popular Hong Kong restaurants, not only is the menu accessible for tables of less than eight, the wine list is extensive, well priced and up to date.

And the goose? The Black Crest breed is sourced from Guangdong, roasted in charcoal ovens in the third-floor kitchen and priced at £12 for a quarter portion (enough for two), £19 for a half, and £38 for a whole goose. Our serving has glossy, lacquered skin, a light chew, and a slightly citrussy mandarin-peel high note throughout the juicy, gamey meat and its pooling juices. It is quintessentially Cantonese, in that the cooking has assisted it to taste more of itself than anything else. All you need with it is a bowl of plain steamed rice and a platter of local choy sum cabbage (£6.50) tossed with garlic and ginger, and nothing more. If you were normal, that is.

I add a dish of snapping-fresh, fried-then-braised garoupa (£16) that has sweet, almost translucent, flesh; and a plate of long, thin, shrimp rolls cloaked in delicate snow-white pastry (£10) that puts the spring back into spring rolls. Only a dish of scrambled eggs with bean shoots and crab meat (£9.50) is woefully ordinary, shreddy and stringy rather than soft and curdy. I make a mental note to ask the chef to do better tomorrow, but seeing as I won't be here tomorrow, I order a warming, sweet red-bean soup to aid the digestion, then virtually waddle out the door.

Do visit Yung Kee when on a stopover or holiday in Hong Kong – not because it has a Michelin star, but because it's as much a part of the town as the Star Ferry, and even more fun.

16/20

Scores: 1-9 stay home and cook, 10-11 needs help, 12 ok, 13 pleasant enough, 14 good, 15 very good, 16 capable of greatness, 17 special, can't wait to go back, 18 highly honourable 19 unique and memorable, 20 as good as it gets

Yung Kee, 32-40 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, tel: 00 852 2522 1624. Lunch and dinner daily. Around £90 for two

The crunch bunch: More Hong Kong staples

Ho Hung Kee

2 Sharp Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, tel: 00 852 2577 6558

This popular, fairly basic noodle shop serves up what many regard as Hong Kong's finest wonton noodle soup. One slurp and you're hooked

Luk Yu Tea House

24-26 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong, tel: 00 852 2523 5464

Probably the world's most famous dim-sum house, Luk Yu is the place to go for a true taste of old Hong Kong

Farm House Restaurant

A1A Plaza, 18 Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, tel: 00 852 2881 1331

This popular, home-style Cantonese restaurant is famous for its glutinous-rice-stuffed chicken wings, although the dim sum is also a highlight

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week