The upmarket Chinese restaurant has emerged from its hiatus.
In 2023, Riyadh’s dining scene witnessed a resurgence in high-end Chinese eateries, with Dasha, Hakkasan, Hualan and Mr Chow all opening their doors at glamorous locales in the Saudi capital. Celebrity chefs and international concepts aside, one culinary stalwart has made a resounding return to The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh. Following three years of closure, Hong has emerged from its COVID cocoon, melding contemporary cuisine with traditional Chinese opulence.
The restaurant is located on the second floor of the palatial property and is accessed via a glass lift that ascends above the waters of the hotel’s stunning swimming pool. Immediately impressive, the dining room sweeps across a carpeted floral design, topped with high-backed chairs. Hand-painted calligraphy panels cover the walls while traditional Chinese lanterns dangle from the ceiling. Chunky columns rise skywards, providing the impression of dining in a pagoda while an auspicious red hue illuminates the room.
Hong has resumed operations with a compact yet appealing menu covering beloved Chinese classics. The kitchen is led by Head Chef Wang, who hails from China’s Henan Province and has a rich culinary background, including stints at Hutong in Dubai. He breathes new life into Hong’s timeless menu, intertwining traditional tastes with a contemporary flair.
We begin with a fermented cucumber amuse-bouche. Presented on a plate shaped like a teapot, it provides a spicy punch to the palate and a total immersion into Hong’s spice sensations. An appetiser of Sichuan Chicken effortlessly balances sweetness derived from peanut butter and sesame cream with the heat of the Szechuan pepper with the intention of encouraging salivation. This cold starter offers a stirring start anchored around the smooth texture of the cold chicken, offset with the crunch of peanuts and a slight tongue-numbing sensation from the chilli.
Next to arrive is a thick and hearty soup. Cooked in a Chinese Southern coastal style, the mixture uses pumpkin paste and boiled King crab to create a blend that prioritises the robust flavours of the core ingredients with little embellishment.
The wok-fried beef has become a Hong signature, and it’s easy to see why. Coated in a viscous sauce that literally translates as “mother”, it speaks to just how traditional a dish it is. Tender cubes of tenderloin are quickly wok-fried to lock in the moisture without compromising the flavour or texture. The black bean chilli sauce is lusciously moreish and may leave your tongue tingling. Served alongside crunchy curried beans and a simple egg-fried rice, the result is a memorable main.
We finish with a Cherry Yuzu Creme Brûlée topped with a crisp sugar crust that breaks away at the mere tap of a spoon to reveal a tarte yuzu creme. Beneath that lies a sweet cherry jam that harmonises the whole dish together. It’s best to scoop all the layers for ultimate enjoyment.
While delicacies like abalone and bird nest soup are unlikely to make an appearance at Hong anytime soon, the restaurant is adding Dim Sum and Peking Duck to its evolving menu in the coming weeks. For now, guests are treated to a concise menu of the restaurant’s greatest hits, showcasing a return to form for the upmarket Chinese restaurant.
For a treasure trove of tradition that stands the test of time more than a decade after opening, long live Hong.
GO: Visit https://ritzcarlton.com for reservations and more information.