The term ‘private members club’ is often met with displeasure, since it denies a large majority of being able to access it. In Hong Kong, however, there are always ways around this. KEE Club, which was founded in 2001 on Wellington Street by a Hong Kong-based Austrian couple and later expanded into Shanghai, is one such club.
Combining art, music, food and wine, KEE Club is a place for people who appreciate all these things and more. The dining room upstairs is designed to be reminiscent of an opulent Venetian dining room, complete with antique mirror walls and leather chairs from the famous Harry’s Bar in Venice. On the walls hang original paintings by Picasso and Calder, which you can’t help but be impressed by as you glance around the room.
I’ve been to KEE many times for special events and also enjoyed its delicious dim sum lunch menu, but never had I tried the Mediterranean dinner menu. Earlier this year, the kitchen welcomed acclaimed chef Roland Schuller as Executive Chef, bringing with him his culinary expertise from years working for Michelin-starred restaurants around the world.
Our dinner began with a simple yet effective amuse bouche of tomato and mozzarella salad with fresh basil. This was a deliciously light and fresh start to what inevitably became a rather filling four-course meal.
Although a quail is a teeny tiny bird, my starter of fresh quail, Culatello ham, zucchini flower, ricotta and melon soup was far from tiny. I was recommended to start with the melon soup – a refreshing, slightly chunky shot of puréed fruit – before moving on to the ham, the zucchini flower stuffed with ricotta, and then the quail dipped in aged balsamic vinegar. Each component to this oversized starter was absolutely fantastic and gave me a clear idea of what I could expect for the rest of the meal.
The tuna belly tartare from the specials menu was served with a slow-cooked egg, sautéed trumpet zucchini and basil emulsion, and topped with bonito flakes. Dressed with sea urchin, and with the addition of the bonito flakes, the tuna carried quite a strong flavour, which was balanced by the delicate undertones of the egg and the fresh basil.
As a second course, I chose the linguine with red prawn and dried capers. This had a wonderfully rich, earthy taste that was unexpected yet totally welcome. The prawn itself, which was gorgeously vibrant in colour, was perfectly cooked and utterly delicious.
The tagliolini with Brittany blue lobster was very similar in appearance to the abovementioned dish, and we worried that perhaps they had used the same sauce for the pasta. To taste, however, it couldn’t have been more different, carrying a much lighter, fresher flavour that was absolutely divine. The lobster itself was also faultless.
Anything with black truffle sauce has the potential to be a very rich dish. The Falkland Islands sea bass, however, served with kale and black truffle sauce, was far from rich. The fish had a lovely delicate flavour and perfect texture, which was just slightly intensified by the truffle, without masking the flavour of the fish itself.
We were very impressed by the Wagyu beef tenderloin and beef cheek with potato mousseline. Both cuts of beef were incredibly tender and full of flavour, particularly the cheek, which literally melted in the mouth. The vegetables seemed to be a bit of an afterthought and didn’t necessarily bring any excitement to the dish, but the beef was good enough to hold its own here.
To round our meal off, we decided to share one dessert and one cheese board. Thankfully the slice of apple tart was only a small one, served with fresh berries and vanilla ice cream. The pastry was flaky and light, with perfect thin slivers of apple that made this one of the best apple tarts I’ve had.
KEE Club’s entire cheese selection was brought to our table for us to choose which ones we wanted. Having been told we could have as many as we liked, we probably got a little carried away with our ordering and may have confused our waiter, since what was served wasn’t quite what we’d ordered. Nonetheless, it was an excellent selection of cheese and rounded off the meal perfectly.
A 4-course dinner at KEE Club, without drinks, is priced at $900. Given that main courses alone are between $300 and $500, this is actually excellent value for money, especially for the quality of the food. Service was also very good, except for the fact that, in a rather old-fashioned way, the waiters barely spoke to me at all, since I’m not male, and directed all their conversation to the other side of the table.
Booking a table at KEE is where it gets a little tricky, however, since it is, after all, a private members club. The easiest way is of course to be a member yourself. Like I said before, however, there are ways around this: you can either ask one of KEE’s hotel partners to book for you, ask another member to book for you, or, if you’re a big spender and have a Black Centurion Amex, then you get access to it anyway! Might be worth paying a few compliments to that vague acquaintance of yours who you know is a member – it’s worth it to be able to taste Chef Roland’s delicious menu!
KEE Private Members Club
6/F, 32 Wellington Street
Tel: +852 2810 9000