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Chinese Library Unveils All-New Kingdom Treasures Dishes

Chinese Food.

The Chinese Library, the stunning venue by Aqua Restaurant Group set in the beautifully transformed Central Police Headquarters in Tai Kwun, has established a name for itself with its innovative take on Chinese regional dishes. Committed to always elevating the restaurant's offerings to new heights, Executive Chef Junno Li has crafted Kingdom Treasures - eight brand-new dishes, featuring culinary treasures of the Middle Kingdom.

Chinese Library, Tai Kwun.

Chef Li travelled to Guangzhou 20 years ago to hone his cooking skills and from there embarked on a culinary expedition to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Sichuan, Guangdong, Hunan and many other provinces and cities across China. During his travels, he learned about different ingredients, regional specialities and cooking techniques, which inspired his own unique twist on the myriad dishes found in the Chinese culinary archives.

The Kingdom Treasures menu begins with Prawn Noodles & Fish Maw in Pickled Sauce (HK$188), a dish inspired by Shanghai's famed drunken prawns. Succulent red prawns are freshly handcrafted into noodles that are gently cooked for seconds to maintain their smooth texture.

The prawn noodles are paired with fish maw, creating a luxurious and satisfyingly al dente combination. The dish is served with fragrant oil made from prawn shells and heads, facing heaven peppers and pickled sauce with a famous nu'er hong rice wine from Shaoxing. Chef Li also adds dill infused walnuts on the side to pay tribute to the Shanghainese snack. The pickled sauce perfumes the restaurant with a delectable wine aroma that sets the stage for the tantalising dishes that follow.

Tai Kwun.

The Osmanthus Honey-Glazed Ham with Pork Crackling (HK$98) is Chef Li's take on Hangzhou's classic braised ham with honey. The dry-cured ham is glazed with a sweet osmanthus-scented honey paired with crispy suckling pork crackling on top and a chewy rice cake on the bottom.

Chef Li makes the rice cake by hand, pounding it continuously until it develops an elastic texture. The crackling is brushed with a thin layer of gold dust, adding a touch of opulence. A perfect balance of sweet, savoury, crispness and chewiness all in one bite.

Chinese Library

Next, Double-Boiled Consommé with Chicken Liver (HK$298) is inspired by a classic Sichuan soup that is traditionally made with pork liver. Chef Li opts instead to use chicken livers, which are more fragrant, and smoother compared to pork liver. The base layer of the soup is a handmade chicken liver pâté that's been steamed and stewed together with egg whites.

The consommé is a true labour of love; it is first stewed for three hours to form a clear soup base, then the consommés of chicken, duck and pork are added one after the other to enhance the flavours. Chu Yeh Ching tea – one of the ten famous teas from Sichuan is also used to enhance the colour and fragrance. As the finishing touch, bamboo pith, fresh lily bulbs, goji berries and sweet green peas are added, creating a beautiful pond-like scene as these ingredients gently float in the consommé.

Moving onto the main act, the signature Braised Sea Cucumber (HK$398) is the culmination of Chef Li's years of culinary experience. The Sichuan-style braised sea cucumber is filled with homemade shrimp paste and deep-fried with the Japanese tempura-frying technique until the surface is crunchy whilst the inside of the sea cucumber remains soft and tender.

The sea cucumber is topped with decadent gold leaf and plated on top of duck liver, pork, bamboo shoots and mushrooms served with chilli oil creating the ultimate dish that perfectly encapsulates Chef Li's creativity and skills.

Next on the culinary journey is the Prawn Cake & Crispy Chicken Skin (HK$168).

The dish takes inspiration from Guangzhou's hundred-flower chicken, which is considered one of the most famous dishes in Cantonese cuisine. Putting his own spin on this classic, Chef Li starts with handmade prawn and cuttlefish paste combined with diced carrots and celery to re-create the "hundred flowers" that make up the heart of the dish.

The crispy chicken skin is layered on top with salted egg yolk corns and served with two sauces – aromatic black truffle and a tongue-numbing chive and Sichuan peppercorn chilli sauce.

Guests who want to spice things up should look no further than the M9 Wagyu Tenderloin (HK$198).

Chef Li drew inspiration from his visits to Hunan to create this dish, which uses pickled Sichuan erjingtiao chillies and pickled ginger to emulate the province's unique flavours. Through countless trials, Chef Li finally found the ideal spiciness that also allows the M9 wagyu tenderloin to shine. Careful thought has also gone into the meat selection, with the M9 wagyu chosen for its tender, melt-in-mouth texture and robust flavours.

The tenderloin is paired with a crispy tuille of rice noodles layered on top.

The penultimate dish, Crab Meat & Roe in Chicken Broth (HK$108), traces its roots to Guangdong province. It is traditionally cooked with dry-cured Jinhua ham between slices of winter melon. Chef Li replaces the ham with seaweed, which adds a fresh-ocean flavour that accentuates the chicken broth, crab meat and roe.

Chef Li stays true to this Cantonese classic by using traditional, labour-intensive and time-consuming stewing methods.

Last but not least is the Black Sesame & Walnut Sweet Soup with Salted Egg Thousand-Layer Cake (HK$108).

Rarely seen nowadays due to its complicated preparation process. Chef Li showcases this classic cake with salted egg yolk served with a rich and silky black sesame and walnut sweet soup. Topped with a roasted walnut, this dessert calls back to the first course and completes this gastronomic journey on a sweet note.

Featuring appetisers, soup, main courses and dessert, the Kingdom Treasures menu takes guests on tour of the many vibrant regional flavours and traditions that make up Chinese cuisine.

Drawing upon his skills and creativity, Chef Li breathes new life into classic dishes and presents guests with an unforgettable multisensory journey. The eight-dish menu is priced at HK$1,388 per person and each dish is also available to order à la carte until December 9.

Address & Booking Information: The Chinese Library, Police Headquarters Block 01, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong T 2848 3088 | | FB & IG @thechineselibrary

About The Chinese Library

The Chinese Library is part of a trilogy of three landmark spaces which together evoke the story of Hong Kong's colourful history, alongside Italian restaurant, Cantina, and an atmospheric lounge and bar, The Dispensary.

The stunning spaces occupy the whole floor of the old Police Headquarters Building in Tai Kwun. The Chinese Library showcases Hong Kong's favourite Chinese dishes presented with a twist and drawn from all of China's varied regional cuisines.

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