Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Man Wah - A Classic Hong Kong Experience

My first memories of Hong Kong dates back to the late 90s.  And from then on, the city became my respite from trips to Manila.  The city was a breathe of fresh air, and the expat community around Central reminded me of home (which was the San Francisco Bay Area at the time).  I only remember one or two meals that really stood out and that I still carry with me today.

Man Wah is a Hong Kong tradition that dates decades back.  I first dined here as a young girl over the Christmas season.  I can recall the classy fine dining setting and the proper attire of all the diners.  Growing up, I really valued all those meals my parents took our family to when we would have to dress up and indulge in course by course meals and five star service.  It was so special (and that feeling still holds true today).  And then, to make the holiday dinner even more memorable, a line of school girls came in, lined up around the restaurant, and sang traditional songs to the diners.  Wow!  As a girl who grew up endlessly replaying the Sound of Music and Almost Angels, this made me fall in love with the restaurant.

Flash forward 15+ years, and I'm still finding myself dining at Man Wah.  The restaurant remains located on the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental - a hotel my grandfather loved, who passed on the love to my mom, who in turn passed on that love to me.  The panoramic views of the city are reason alone to dine here.  Another reason, it's legitimately Michelin starred - and by legitimate, I mean there are other restaurants in the city who earned it by hype, but Man Wah actually earned it and continues to earn it.

And the food!  You know that feeling you sometimes get after eating Chinese food?  Oily, heavy, lethargic, etc.  There's absolutely none of that here.  So much so, we ate there three times over the course of our three day trip!  And trust me we take each meal in Hong Kong seriously since we're only there for a limited time.  Yes, Man Wah is that good.  It's just as delicious as it was in the 90s, maybe even more so.  The best part of it all, it's luxurious while being completely unpretentious.

Today, Man Wah has kept up with the high expectations of food lovers.  It's serving traditional cuisine with worldly influences and unforgettable plating.  I can't tell you which to choose, dinner or dim sum, because both are amazing.  When you have dinner here, you must get the Iberian pork.  Succulent, fried, savoury, with a hint of sweetness.  I can eat this for days.  And the dim sum was almost too beautiful to eat, but I'm glad I ate it because it's the best dim sum I've had in Hong Kong (which pretty much means it's the best dim sum I've eaten around the world).  To top it all off, the service is beyond impeccable.  The captain waiter, Richard, details the meal with such knowledge and passion.  The best part before tasting the food is when the server describes the dish and its background.  Richard excelled in this because he cares for the diners, the food, and the whole dining experience.  Even if it's pricey, the plating, the taste, the atmosphere, and the service makes you want to come back for more, and more, and more.

Deep fried codfish, preserved olive, black bean, five spices

Deep fried crab claw coated with minced shrimp

Peking duck

Duck second way
Wok fried duck, cashew nuts, celery

Black Iberian pork, kuei kua flavored pear, chin kiang vinegar

Roast goose, plum sauce

Seasonal vegetables in garlic and oil

Poached bitter gourd, conpoy, gingko nuts

Fried rice, minced fish, Yunnan ham, egg, spring onion

Bean curd pudding served in wooden basket

Petit fours, which change for every meal

Roast pork belly

Mushroom dumpling, black truffle
Crabmeat dumpling, shrimp, pumpkin, sweet corn

Shanghainese soup dumpling, minced pork

Beef tenderloin puff, black pepper sauce

Pan fried glutinous rice dumpling, abalone, chicken, mushroom

Roast goose puff, yanmin sauce

Egg tartlet

More petit fours

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