I have a confession to make paraphernalians, ‘Food TV’ is an addiction! I’m glad it is though, or Margaret Xu Yuan would never have entered our lounge-room. Ex-designer and creative director turned chef, Margaret’s the doyen of Hong Kong’s private dining scene.
Immersing herself in the traditions of Hakka food preparation, organic farming and farm to table dining, Margaret first opened her home as Madame X Private Kitchen. Yin Yang Wanchai followed delivering a “best restaurant” award and now Yin Yang Coastal takes us on a fantasy journey by the sea. Each concept evolving while the key drivers (fresh, organic and local) endure.
Margaret is the first chef in the world to serve real biological Chinese food. Her dedication to reinventing Hong Kong’s oldest gastronomic culture, that of the fishermen, has placed her in the top 100 chefs in the world (Coco Magazine).
In 2011 and 2012 she represented Hong Kong at the International Food and Wine Festival-World Chef Showcase in Australia and 2015 presented her terracotta roasting technique at San Sebastian Gastronomika to some of the World’s most celebrated chefs.
Yin Yang Coastal is at Ting Kau Beach, Tsuen Wan in the New Territories. (40 – 60 minutes drive from Central depending on traffic) We took the MTR to Tsuen Wan station and a 5-minute cab ride from there.
Signature dishes, food allergies and, for this paraphernalian, LCHF (Low Carb Healthy Fat) are all discussed prior to arrival. Margaret then creates your fantasy menu.
Fresh produce from local markets, pick-ready organic fruit and veg, freshly caught local fish and her in-house sauces and pickles make the base of the menu; Margaret’s imagination and technique do the rest.
To begin our Surf and Splash Fantasy, a glass of Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé appeared in my hand. Not that we need an excuse for bubbles, but it was our anniversary. If there was an excuse needed to privately dine with Margaret that can be it!
Tart, pickled cucumber highlights the sweetness of caramelised slow roasted pumpkin and fresh figs. Salty sea snails in their shell and Margaret’s house-made Chilli sauce combine complex flavours equaling the artistic presentation.
A base of warm tofu topped with cold hairy crab, seawater broth and freshly picked seaweed silenced us for a couple of minutes. Sweet crab, salt and smooth warm tofu; the contrasting flavours in harmony with the contrast in temperature. Margaret uses a traditional Hakka stone grinder for the soy beans to make her own tofu.
On Margaret’s recommendation, we opened a bottle of Lucien Albrecht’s Gwertztraminer. The wine’s soft lychee suggestion complimenting this dish and the ones to follow. Delicate Yellow Tail Sashimi dressed with citrus, lychees and Longans. The foraged leaves grow wild at the beach.
Razor clams, Chinese herbs and edible weeds combined in a bottle and left to steep in warm Xiaoxing Wine. The molluscs absorbing the wine and herb essence while adding their juices to the broth.
One of 2 signature dish choices, the slow roasted baby pig was a must for us. Crisp crackling encompassing moist tender meat served with South China’s sweet plum sauce. This scrumptious course is delivered from Margaret’s personally designed terracotta oven.
The lobster is separated and the spider steamed. The raw tail is placed on a bed of herbs and weeds in the serving dish while hot chrysanthemum tea is carefully poured over. Left to steep a few minutes, the lobster cooks to perfection.
Flavour intensity builds through each course. A rich fish broth comprising of Red Snapper, fresh herbs and black salt arrived. The snapper skeleton, crisply fried, enabled every part of the fish to be consumed.
Young coconut flesh, fresh coconut cream, baby eggplant and chunky hairy crab. What’s left to say? This course was big. Big in flavour and big in size. Our big regret, not devouring every morsel.
Oddly, we could fit dessert. Funny how that happens. Hong Kong egg soufflé arrived topped with hot mulberry sauce. The accompanying ice cream; Skunkvine or if you prefer, Chinese Moon Creeper. I don’t mind what it’s called, it’s fresh flavour brightened the richness of the mulberry and soufflé and worked a treat with the Kumquatcello. Yes, Margaret makes this too. Think Limoncello but kumquats, a much tastier choice IMHO.
With a full moon and full bellies, we were guided back through Ting Kau Village to find a cab. A nearby hotel made it easy and we headed back to Central discussing favourite courses. The coconut crab, the performance with the lobster, Yellow Tail sashimi. By the time we relived each course we decided they all stood on their own merits and worked tremendously as a complete menu. This private dining experience is not to be missed!! Enjoy a journey below showcasing more of Margaret’s creations from farm to table.
Private dining with Chef Margaret at Yin Yang Coastal: definitely a thing we love….