Mandarin Oriental Hotel
5, Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong, China
Tel: (852) 2825 4003
Food type: Cantonese
Nearest tube: Central
Website: Man Wah
If you were ask locals from Hong Kong to name the top Cantonese restaurant in the city, chances are that Man Wah would feature at the top of the list. Man Wah is so iconic and revered that even international chefs like Pierre Troigros have named dishes in homage to this restaurant. Yet for many years, this restaurant was shunned by Michelin and it was only in the 2012 guide did they finally get awarded with a solitary star.
Located at the top of the flagship Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong, Man Wah’s dining room boasts spectacular views of Victoria Harbour and the city with the iconic HSBC building in full view. The dining room itself is downright gorgeous lacquered dark brown wooden walls and more than a dozen or so overhanging lanterns ushering you back to the days of pre-war colonial Hong Kong. Each table is draped with pink linen and a solitary bonsai tree as a table piece.
Alongside the a la carte menu are various dinner set menus priced at HKD$988 and HKD$1,488. Depending on the season, there are also various chef’s seasonal specialities. For lunch, a dim sum menu including their famed beef tenderloin puff and egg tart is available as well as an executive lunch menu. As a rule of thumb when dining in any Cantonese restaurant in Hong Kong, it is always better to go a la carte than opt for the set menus which are often designed to cater for tourists.
One of the iconic dishes here is their signature char siu or barbecued pork with honey served with a sense of theatre – the roasted meat is brought to the table hanging from a miniature Chinese archway on some metal skewers before being plated up table side. Chef Lee uses top quality black Iberian pork with a good mixture of fatty and lean meat to achieve a dish which has a perfect balance of ‘mouthfeel’ (a Chinese terminology to describe pleasurable texture) and taste. Unlike a lot of char suis that I encounter today which are too sweet, the honey is used sparingly just to give the pork a nice caramelised finish.
Peking duck is not a Cantonese dish but yet is popular enough that most top restaurants will have it on their menu to cater for tourists. Although not as good as some of the top versions served in Beijing, nonetheless this is one of the best versions to grace the table of any restaurant in Hong Kong. The ducks used here are slightly larger than their Mainland counterpart. First, the whole duck is expertly carved table side with only the skin served wrapped in some ultra thin Chinese pan cakes. The duck is then taken back to the kitchen where the meat is then prepared in one of many ways – we chose an excellent stir-fry with aubergine and chilli bean sauce which demonstrated good wok hei.
To finish, you may wish to indulge in a dessert commonly served in dai pai dongs (street food shops) – bean curd. There is a short 20 minute wait for this dessert which is brought to the table with yet more theatre in a wooden bucket which is where it is commonly served from if you were eating it on the streets. The bean curd is silky smooth and beautifully creamy, with red sugar on the side so that each diner can adjust the taste to their liking.
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal here at Man Wah. What is there not to like between the stunning dining room, excellent service and playful, yet delicious cooking. Whilst it did not quite hit the same highs as our meals at Lung King Heen or the Eight, it nevertheless a solid display of Cantonese cooking.
Apologies for the terrible photographs. Coming on the back of an epic lunch at Amber with plenty of wine, I had somehow managed to leave the memory card for my camera in my hotel room. At least I had my trusty iPhone as backup.