With a good collection of restaurants under its belt in convenient locations, Elite Concepts is one of the powerhouse dining groups in our city. Taking a small departure from prime locations such as luxury malls and hotels, the newest addition to the group’s lineup is Deng G. Situated on the second and third floor of a run-down commercial building in Wan Chai, the smart interiors of this Sichuan restaurant are in stark contrast to the exterior of the building. Chinoiserie in cool blue-grey tones dominates the dining room and, unsurprisingly, given Sichuan Province is home to 80 percent of the world’s giant pandas, a bamboo theme runs through much of the décor. Considered one of the most talented Sichuan chefs in China and currently the owner of 鄧記食園 (Deng Kee Dining) in Shanghai, chef Deng Huadong and his talented culinary team utilise fresh produce alongside multidisciplinary cooking techniques. Most importantly, they exercise restraint when it comes to using cooking oil, resulting in a more intense, cleaner experience on the palate.
The menu is divided into flavour profiles instead of ingredients. On our visit these include lychee, ma la, hu la, yu xiang, ‘home’, sweet and sour, salt and pepper and dry pot. We start with a smoked fish ($80, this classic starter is usually sweet and Deng G’s version is no different in taste, but it’s a world away in terms of texture. The often saccharine and oily over-fried fish is given new life simply by the use of fresh, premium fish and we gain a new appreciation for this appetiser. Next, we opt for yu xiang prawns ($198). The base sauce for many Sichuan dishes, the version here has bright flavours, leading us to suspect it’s not pre-made. Although the heat factor is mild, it successfully whets the appetite for the next course.
We can smell what arrives next before it hits the table. The aroma of the smoked duck ($168, half portion) wafts our way, the smoky aromas filtering through our sinuses. It tastes as good as it smells, the crispy skin hiding tender meat underneath. This is by far our favourite dish of the evening.
Our next course is the crispy fish in spicy sauce ($328) and while it’s easy to mistake the red sauce as the same one covering the earlier prawn dish, this one has a marked tang and a stronger emphasis on the ginger. While many chefs would’ve taken a short cut and used the same sauce for similar dishes, chef Deng is clearly a serious professional.
We finish off the meal the Chinese way, with carbs, and select the Yangzhou fried
rice ($100). Again, chef Deng’s skill shines through with dry, separated rice paired with finely diced prawn and meat that provides a clean bite. It’s a simple dish, but superbly executed.
The use of quality ingredients by a master chef is apparent at Elite Concepts’ new locale. Though the group has deviated from placing its restaurants in prime locations, the quality hasn’t changed at all. With a great ambience and menu, Deng G is definitely worth a visit. Especially for those who like their spice level dialled down.