Growing up in a small West Texas cotton-farming community, gourmet meant steak fingers at the Dairy Queen on College Avenue and breakfast for dinner on Wednesday nights at the town’s only cafe. For me, it was everything. At that time, I wasn’t aware of the culinary world outside of Hockley County, and if I had been, I probably wouldn’t have cared.
Fast forward some years and it’s safe to say this Texas boy’s taste has grown up a little (though I still love steak fingers). Living in New York City, it’s easy to find the best versions of nearly any type of food you can imagine — and I imagine it all. As someone who doesn’t care to cook, I constantly find myself at foodie hotspots and eccentric restaurants serving everything from elevated versions of Mexican street food to Uni sashimi at a timed counter. I’m on a quest to try it all.
But the one thing that’s alluded me — probably because of my thin wallet and obsession with Seamless — is a Michelin-starred restaurant.
That all changed this past March when I found myself visiting the Four Seasons Hong Kong, the hotel that set the world record for the most Michelin stars under one roof. This luxury property doesn’t just have one Michelin-starred restaurant — in fact, it doesn’t even just have two Michelin-starred restaurants. The Central Hong Kong hotel has a whopping three Michelin-starred restaurants, and I ate at all three of them in one. single. night.
Caprice: 3 Michelin Stars
The first stop was Caprice, the three-starred French restaurant helmed by chef Guillaume Galliot. The first dish was a sort of metaphor for the rest of the evening (and an ironic jab at my real life in Brooklyn), but an army of waiters in pristine white uniforms served us a salad-of-sorts in delicate glass bowls. After exploring the dish I found Alaskan king crab, Gillardeau oyster, a crustacean jelly, and gold flakes that I wondered if I could pocket and exchange at my local Cash for Gold. The flavors were rich and inviting, but it was the texture of the oyster that really brought the dish to life.
For a main we had Guilvinec turbot — which I later found out is a type of flatfish — with a roasted mango served in a Hokkaido sea urchin sauce. While I struggled to understand what I was eating, I also struggled to understand my dinner guests, a group of Chinese influencers and journalists who may not have understood much English, but certainly understood the term “selfie.” Despite the language barrier, we all very much agreed that the food was delicious, even if I did have to google “Guilvinec.”
Sushi Saito: 2 Michelin Stars
The second stop was a quick elevator ride up to Sushi Saito, the first overseas outpost of Tokyo’s famed three-Michelin-starred restaurant that many consider to be one of the best sushi spots in the world. Here, the fish is hand-selected by world-renowned chef Takashi Saito at Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market and flown into Tokyo every single day to be masterfully crafted by chef Kenichi Fujimoto.
Over the hour at Sushi Saito, my fried catfish-loving eyes were treated to some of the most beautiful and intricately cut pieces of fish I have ever seen. Throughout the Omakase, rounds of “oooh” and “ahhh” bounced around the tiny eight-person dining room. At one point, chef Fujimoto opened a small box that appeared to be overflowing with some sort of gold — turns out it was actually fresh uni delivered from Tokyo that very day. My Chinese friends and I were visibly shook by the beauty of the contents of the box, but were all very happy to eat it when it came back served as the crowning piece of my gunkan-maki.
What I loved about Sushi Saito was that despite its reputation for being one of the best sushi spots on the planet, I felt welcome despite my lack of sushi education. Chef Fujimoto was lighthearted and warm — but most importantly, informative. We knew exactly what we were eating and why. And with a meal as delicate, precise, and expensive as this, that information goes a long way.
Lung King Heen: 3 Michelin Stars
By the time I arrived at Lung King Heen, the last stop on my “dine around,” I was worried that the button on my pants was going to break free and I was starting to feel that subtle sleepiness that sets in behind the eyes after eating too much. But the last stop was the stop I had been waiting for, as Lung King Heen is home to chef Chan Yan Tak — the first Chinese chef in the world to earn three Michelin stars.
Chef Tak was waiting at the entrance of the restaurant when we arrived at Lung King Heen. A very kind man, chef Tak was quick to make me laugh and even quicker to tell us the highlights of the menu he decided to share with us that night: crispy suckling pig with a Chinese pancake; barbecued pork with honey; a crispy scallop with fresh pear, shrimp paste, and Yunnan ham; and steamed lobster and egg white in ginger sauce. For me, the standout was the crunchy and crispy suckling pig that was salty and savory and is still making my mouth water months later.
A menu offering contemporary Cantonese dishes, Lung King Heen has maintained its three-star Michelin status for over 10 years, and I saw why first hand. Besides the obvious — the incredibly delicious food — this establishment had top-notch service, a beautiful and large dining room, and breathtaking views of the Hong Kong Harbor second only to the tastes and smells coming from the kitchen.
Bless My 8-star Stomach
After spending three hours indulging myself in the act of overeating, it was safe to say I had an 8-star stomach. My head could feel the many glasses of wine consumed and my new friends from China couldn’t stop giggling at my clear discomfort at having just eaten three dinners in three hours.
As it was time to say goodnight, I couldn’t stop thinking about my home in Texas. It’s funny how different the worlds I revolved through were: a high-rise hotel set against the Hong Kong skyline where gold foil was to be eaten and a one-level ranch house were foil was meant to wrap a baked potato on the way to the grill. Worlds apart, but one thing is certainly the same after a dinner of Dairy Queen steak fingers or Michelin-starred steamed lobster: food is a fundamental part of human happiness. That, and there’s nothing better than taking your pants off after three dinners.
If you want to try it for yourself, Four Seasons Hong Kong offers the “One Trip, Eight Michelin Stars” package that includes two nights at the hotel, and reservations and meals at all three restaurants. Packages start around $2,300 for two.