After an extensive eight-month renovation, the restaurant is completely transformed. Gone are the bright, airy interiors; in its place are tall panels of dark wood, soft lighting, elaborate show plates, hushed voices, all reminiscent of a fine-dining Western restaurant. Regal and elegant, it is ideal for corporate entertaining and more formal family meals.
A good way to start the meal at Summer Pavilion is with some hearty soup. Double-boiled for six to eight hours, the sea whelk soup served in whole coconut is infused with the aromas of coconut. The sea whelk and tender pieces of chicken add to the umami flavours. Overall, it’s a nourishing and comforting soup for all seasons, and this offering takes a place of pride for the resident Hong Kong chefs.
Another must-try dish is the braised four-head South African abalone. It’s cooked in its own juice mixed with oyster sauce, and the result is fresh abalone that is both rich and evenly tender. This is evidenced by the vibrant and even colours of the sauce.
There are some dishes that are perfect with a bowl of steaming rice, and the braised estuary grouper with dried beancurd skin is one of them. Served in a claypot, the fish is first pan-fried then braised. The fish skin retains a slight crisp while soaking up the savoury sauce. There are also generous servings of garlic and fried beancurd skin. The latter, though, has a hint of bitterness that may not work well with some diners.
Any Chinese restaurant won’t be complete without a duck dish, and at Summer Pavilion, it’s the smoked London duck. There’s something about the London birds that make it so delicious; more than the extra layers of fat, the bird is simply flavourful. Under the skillful hands of the chefs, the duck is smoked to perfection. The crispy skin is steeped in the heady aromas of smoked tea, while the flesh is tender and succulent. It’s so tasty that no additional sauce is needed.
The wine list is a carefully curated selection of wines from different regions and of different varietals. Other than the substantial selection of champagnes, the fairly extensive list bears the standard of an international luxury hotel chain. Notably, the selection of Wines by the Glass is probably one of the most extensive seen in a Chinese restaurant here.
Staff treat diners with such warmth and friendliness, you feel like a regular patron. Never overbearing, the staff banter at appropriate intervals, always checking for feedback. The service is pre-emptive but not presumptuous.
Customers pay for the fine ambience, quality ingredients and excellent service. While the pricing is on the high side, it is not exorbitant.