Chinese Library: Jade Harvest Menu Review | Delish Eats
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Delish Eats: Chinese Library’s Jade Harvest, A Menu of Refreshing Delights

Chef Junno Li Chinese Library Jade Harvest Delish Eats

Restaurant story: Situated beside the Dispensary bar, barely a stretch away from Aqua Group’s Italian concept, Cantina, The Chinese Library is a premium contemporary Chinese dining room and lounge that straddles the line between a sleek experience of worldly glamour and a culturally rich exploration of regional Chinese cuisines.

Chef story: Having served as a judge at a Chinese cooking competition in Shanghai just a few months ago, Executive Chef Junno Li brought with him a fresh bounty of inspiration. As a show of innovation, Junno blends subtle touches culled from foreign cuisines to enhance the core facets of the traditionally Chinese ingredients, and creatively reinterprets familiar items in new ways.

What’s the vibe and venue like: Keeping true to Aqua group’s aesthetic, which is known to blend quiet opulence with design features complementing the venue’s innate charm, the Tai Kwun location blended wood rimmed marble tables with glassy emerald panels on the rear end wall, imprinted with the restaurant group’s signature logo. Dim-lit enough to afford a romantic evening for couples, with the tables widely spread out enough to also accommodate for group diners wanting their own pocket of privacy, The Chinese Library offers a multifaceted venue for many a dining occasion.

Chinese Library’s Jade Harvest

How much does it cost: The menu can be ordered as a selection of dishes to share or as a ten-course set meal at HK$988 per person. Our trio opted for the set menu each, with every item on the roster presented in scaled-down, individual portions.

What is the menu about: A summertime gem amongst the produce of China, the menu revolves around selected various jade-green vegetables falling under the melon-like ‘gourd’ family. Each dish has been designed to foreground its assigned ingredient, each item varying in crunch, seasoning, and presentation, all whilst retaining a refreshing palate suited for the simmering heat outside.

What did we order: Jade Har Gau, Braised Abalone Puff, Crispy Roast Peking Duck with Cucumber & Caviar, Double-boiled Chicken Consommé with Fish Maw, Scallop, and Luffa; Braised Sea Cucumber, Five-spice Wagyu Rib, Chinese Risotto with Eel and Peas, Snow Fungus & Watermelon Sweet Soup, Crispy Custard & Coconut Puff

(Not pictured): Jade Crystal,  Braised Crab and Zucchini served in Shrimp & Sea Urchin Jus, Chayote in Chicken Soup with Wolfberries

Jade Har Gau, Braised Abalone Puff

Jade Har Gau, Braised Abalone Puff: Given that the angled luffa is prone to holding in excess water, the delicate little har gow was, in fact, a great show of technical dexterity - the shrimp was juicy, yet the melon remained crisp. The abalone puff captured the savoury crunch of Hong Kong-style baked favourites; however, the thick taro feeling caused the bite to feel extra rich.

Crispy Roast Peking Duck with Cucumber & Caviar

Crispy Roast Peking Duck with Cucumber & Caviar: A twist on The Chinese Library’s signature Peking duck (a major draw for diners that make it to the restaurant), this dish brings a new kind of freshness to the famed, decadent poultry dish. Cutting through the velvety fat of the duck skin was some cucumber’s freshness and the crunchiness of musky star anise, with a slight slither of mustard underneath to bind to the tender duck meat.

Double-boiled Chicken Consommé with Fish Maw, Scallop, and Luffa

Double-boiled Chicken Consommé with Fish Maw, Scallop, and Luffa: Its healing contents swirling like clouds in the skyline of a Chinese watercolour drawing, the soup combines comforting morsels with a clear broth that’s been spruced up with the light yet pronounced flavourings of coriander and wild sansho.

Braised Sea Cucumber

Braised Sea Cucumber: Served on a sauced bed of chopped chicken liver and celery drenched in a mild mala sauce, the sea cucumber had been especially prepared by Chef Junno in a style similar to tempura-frying, to make the strange-to-look-at aquatic creature less intimidating for less familiar diners. The inside remains gelatinous and tender to the bite.

Five-spice Wagyu Rib

Five-spice Wagyu Rib: Incorporating dried tangerine peel into the sauce was a brilliant move that contrasted the smokiness of the precisely charred edges along the cut. The wagyu dissolved on the tongue and fell away to delight our tastebuds with its distinctive buttery savouriness, its soft floral undertones brought out by the custom-tailored vinegary-sweet drizzle.

Chinese Risotto with Eel and Peas

Chinese Risotto with Eel and Peas: Using the usual Chinese rice, the ‘risotto’ in this dish’s moniker refers to the dampened texture of the grains that each carry with them a certain creaminess. Using dried eel instead of fresh fillets, its essence is infused into the sauce and blends in - flavour wise – very smoothly.

Snow Fungus & Watermelon Sweet Soup, Crispy Custard & Coconut Puff

Snow Fungus & Watermelon Sweet Soup, Crispy Custard & Coconut Puff: A spin on the dim sum staple of nai wong bao (yellow custard bun), the puff was a warm pocket of lava-like sweetness that took over. Packing in a nutritious treat, thanks to the use of snow fungus, the sweet soup ends the feast on a light and refreshing note.

The Chinese Library Chef

What we liked: The themed menu delivered both in the realm of presenting and sticking to a well-defined concept, all whilst bringing in a variety of dishes and flavours. Despite its length, the ten courses were perfectly proportioned to give each item it’s time to shine, without leaving you overly stuffed and regretful. Plus, the lightness of the veggie-centric dishes is definitely favourable for the summer.

What we didn’t like: The pairings of Jade Har Gau with Braised Abalone Puff, and Snow Fungus Watermelon Sweet Soup with Crispy Custard Coconut Puff, both featured some delectable items. However, because one item was more pronounced than the other in both cases, I found that the dish with the less punchy flavours was overshadowed by its counterpart.

What you should order: Jade Har Gau, Braised Abalone Puff, Crispy Roast Peking Duck with Cucumber & Caviar, Double-boiled Chicken Consommé with Fish Maw, Scallop, and Luffa; Braised Sea Cucumber, Five-spice Wagyu Rib, Chinese Risotto with Eel and Peas, Snow Fungus & Watermelon Sweet Soup, Crispy Custard & Coconut Puff.

The Jade Harvest menu will run from now until Oct. 15, 2023.

Location: The Chinese Library, 2/F, Block 01, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong

Contact details: +852 2848 3088

This food review is based on a complimentary media tasting provided by Chinese Library in exchange for a truthful review and no compensation. The opinions expressed within represent the views of the author.   

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