There’s a fine line between striking the right notes when it comes to authenticity and tradition, and becoming anchored entirely in the past. Liu at Conrad, though, manages to find this balance perfectly, delivering all the low-lit, understated grandeur of Cantonese fine dining while moving forward and executing food full of contemporary deliciousness.
The dim sum selection is likely to be familiar enough for fans of this kind of food. The abalone sui mai (B110) has a richness of flavour shot through with a silky texture while the har gao with scallop (B110) has that inimitable seafood taste, isolated
early on but then offset with a combination that demands to be savoured.
This is followed by rice flour rolls filled with crab sticks (B130), which are light without feeling insubstantial. The crab meat, an important staple of Cantonese cuisine, is excellent, subtle but still a taste that lingers on the tongue. It’s less identifiable when added to a spinach soup (B250) but still works well as the second layer of flavour. The dim sum rounds out with the lava green tea bun (B90), a fluffy exterior that releases a surprising, bittersweet sauce.
On the a la carte menu, the raw salmon rolls with cucumber and shrimp roe (B260) feel like informal sharing food but there is a far more delicately balanced flavour. But it’s not necessary to deconstruct it that far – the simple pleasure of good salmon is there to behold.
Even then, there’s a step up to some of the bigger mains. Pork spare ribs (B300) might not be immediately associated with Cantonese food but they’re served up here with a fingerlicking lack of self-consciousness and a black vinegar sauce that offers explosive, lip-smacking flavour. This is a cracking dish – combining the immediate pleasure of demolishing a plate of ribs with more intriguing seasonings than you’ll find at a steakhouse.
The same goes for the stewed pork belly (B320) which comes bathed in a dark soy goodness and garnished with baby bokchoy. Fat is well and truly flavour in this case and you’ll be mopping up the sauce with the steamed buns that come suspended above the dish.
It’s hard to recall an upscale Cantonese place that manages to be as satisfying at Liu.
3F Conrad Bangkok, 87 Wireless Rd | 02-690-9999
conradhotels3.hilton.com | 2pm-midnight