Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Man Oh Mano

As much as I like seeing new things, the ground floor of the L Place doesn’t seem to be overly blessed by long-standing tenants, so I hope that newest occupant Mano can, over time, prove itself to be a popular establishment that deserves that space. European café and restaurant Mano offers all day dining from brioche, bread and pastries with your morning coffee and brunch spreads for your midday hunger pangs to swanky dishes at dinner, so really, you can pretty much spend your whole day there if you’re lazy!MANO IMG_7376 IMG_7372 IMG_7373

I like simple décor, and Mano’s black and white interiors with a lovely marble workspace open kitchen and plush Italian leather seats does give it an air of urban elegance. When my friend V and I went one evening, we found the service quietly efficient and friendly, though our waiter faffed with our seating a bit, deciding between five sets of identical tables. The menu is attractive- dishes such as Parmesan custard with basil and zucchini emulsion and Mezze maniche Mancini sound rather grand and there is a good variety of meats and seafood to satisfy anyone’s palate.

Prices are less friendly with mains coming in at $200-350 each, so if you think ouch, then I would stick with their morning and brunch. We started by sharing the Pan-seared Hokkaido scallops with home smoked Iberico pork belly. Presentation-wise, our three plump and perfectly cooked scallops looked a little lonely separated out from each other on this huge plate, but aside from that the whole dish more or less came together and the accompanying pork belly was a crispy, salty delight. The porcini ratatouille had a slightly bitter aftertaste unfortunately, which affected the overall taste.

Pan-seared Hokkaido scallops

Pan-seared Hokkaido scallops

For mains, the 120 days grass fed Sirloin of New Zealand Ocean beef ($318) was excellent. The beef was well-seasoned and succulent, but I thought that it didn’t need all of the shaved, aged Parmesan that it came with as it made it a little too rich. V had the Seared tuna loin with parsley mash, roasted beetroot, squid cappuccino and truffle caviar ($308). The tuna loin was perfect in the middle but the outside was over-seared but we loved the parsley mash and the caviar gave it a good umami kick. But there was a downside to our experience. Both dishes were served a tad under lukewarm. Now, I have no idea whether it was because the staff were waiting for both dishes to be cooked before serving, or whether they simply were slow to bring them out after they were prepared, but having my hot mains served hot is quite important. Luckily it didn’t affect the taste of my beef and good conversation between friends was enough for us to overlook this.

120 days grass fed Sirloin of New Zealand Ocean beef

120 days grass fed Sirloin of New Zealand Ocean beef

Seared tuna loin

Seared tuna loin

To end, there was Orange lemon crème brulee with lemon ice-cream. I have high hopes for Mano, I do. The citrusy taste of the brulee was fantastic and this dessert would have been wonderful if it had set properly. But our brulee was runny like a fresh yolk. The manager was great and offered to get us another, but at this point we had slurped it up, literally.

Orange lemon crème brulee

Orange lemon crème brulee

Next time I will try their breakfast and lunch. For now, I think I will see if a few months can sort out a few of their existing crinkles.

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

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Mano Hong Kong, G/F, L Place, 139 Queen’s Road, Central, +852 2384 7339, www.manohk.com

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Do you know your ABCs?

I’d forgotten about ABC Kitchen in Sheung Wan until I came across my photos of all its dishes. I attribute this lapse in memory to ABC being a dai pai dong in a cooked food market and having automatically filed it away as a Chinese restaurant.

It’s not. It’s a very well thought out Western eatery surrounded by typical Chinese dai pai dongs, a Nepalese stall is its neighbour in fact. It was opened by the chefs from the now closed M at the Fringe and there are only 4 or 5 large tables. If you think you can waltz in and grab a table, you can forget about it. ABC aka “A Better Cooking” stands out with its Tricolore colours of the Italian flag and it’s bright red chequered tablecloths adorning the tables. The atmosphere isn’t great, we could barely hear each other speak but that wasn’t important. What was, however, was the food, so we decided to order pretty much the entire menu.

The menu was a bit on the scant side, but I was told that the stand out dishes were the bouillabaisse and the suckling pig, so I went in with quite high expectations.

We began the meal with almost all the starters. Being the clever people we are, we miscalculated and ordered only 1 pan fried foie gras which was miniscule and obviously wasn’t going to feed all 7 of us. So, instead of ordering an extra one, Krispy K split it into sevenths. The blob of foie gras I tasted was average, more grease than flavour and I’m not convinced worth the $98.The figs and lapin (that’s rabbit to you and me) salad was good, the figs were refreshing and sweet, complimenting the lapin well and balancing out the richness of the foie gras from before. Next, was the soft shell crab, nicely crisp on the outside, with only the odd one or two soggy bits and not too much batter. Best bit was that it was served with little cornichons- love those things!The margherita pizza was.. a margherita pizza- cheesy. If you can mess that up, then you shouldn’t be allowed in a kitchen let alone open one to the public.Lastly, was the long awaited La Bouillabaisse. This traditional Provencal fish stew was fresh and light and packed with loads of ingredients- fish, scallops, prawns, mussels, squid, cherry tomatoes and onions. Half of us loved it, the other half including myself were indifferent, I felt it needed a bit more seasoning and I grew bored of wading through the mountain of ingredients to get to the soup itself.For mains, we had the roasted suckling pig which was excellent. Crispy, exquisite crackling and little fat, tender, succulent meat on the inside.  The other dish we tried was the spring chicken roll stuffed with goat’s cheese and spinach which was tasty but nothing special and became dry towards the end. Lastly was the angus rib eye steak which was average- not the best place to go to for steak, much too big, too gristly and sloppily presented (no photo of this one).The desserts were pretty good. The banana banoffee pie, so named as there was extra banana, was scrumptious and just the right balance of sweet. The creme brulee was “meh”, not a stand out pudding as it was lacking in smoothness and vanilla flavour. I can’t remember what the mousse was, except that it was mousse like.. sorry, not very helpful! But the chocolate souffle was enjoyable and as always, a joy to deflate 🙂

Overall, ABC Kitchen is a great experience. It’s not everyday that you get to eat decent Western food in a wet market, so get yourself down there for a good slice of suckling pig and remember to book in advance and take a healthy set of lungs so you can shout across the table at your mates.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

ABC Kitchen, Shop CF7, Food Market, 1 Queen Street, Sheung Wan. Tel: 9278 8227

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