Address: G/F, 11 Hing Wan Street, Wan Chai 灣仔慶雲街11號地下
Telephone: 2915 2261
With many upscale restaurants’ obsession with molecular cuisine, nowadays one almost instinctively equates “molecular” with “stratospheric prices”, so I got curious when I heard about a noodle bar that serves molecular dishes without charging prices that would make me need to remortgage my house.
Opened by owner-chef Maureen Loh, a fiercely independent and creative woman, Maureen is a small establishment that is situated behind the Blue House in Wanchai. The eatery can accommodate around 20 diners, and at the centre of the dining room is a long bar table overlooking a tiny open kitchen. The menu includes Chinese-style noodles, slow simmered broth, slow-cooked meats as well as molecular dishes that Ms Loh has been experimenting with. Worth a special mention are Maureen’s signature lo meins, a crossover between thick, Sichuanese dan dan noodles and thin, Guangzhou-style egg noodles, which have a springy, al dente texture like the former, yet a beautiful, eggy taste like the latter; all noodles are served with a bowl of homemade broth.
You could come here just for a bowl of noodles, but the 6-course Tasting Menus at $238-$268 per person (min 2 persons) is definitely worth a try if you have time. In terms of hospitality, while I wouldn’t peg the service as seamless, the staff were generally helpful and Ms Loh was very happy to accommodate any special requests.
(1) A plate of Tomatoes and Spanish Ham made its way to our table – the Spanish Ham was firm and flavour-packed, and the cherry tomatoes, marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and shallots, were brimming with exotic flavours.
(2) The Perfect Egg, a signature dish of the restaurant, comprised of a fantastically runny and velvety egg, cooked at 63°C and served with mushroom fluid gel and Chinese ham. While the egg was exquisite, the mushroom fluid gel was unfortunately a tad bland.
(3) The Charred Garden Vegetables were simple but brilliant – the choy sum, lightly torched, was delicate and fresh, and an enticing chargrill taste lingered on the palate.
(4) The Abalone with Truffle Infusion was extravagantly delicious, with the natural taste of abalone going surprising well with truffle’s unique flavour.
(5) The Grilled Japanese Abalone was well executed; the tender chicken infused with lemon olive oil, if not special, was at least pleasant.
(6) The Grilled Hoisin Pork was soft and tender, and the hoisin and bean sauce marinade gave the meat an alluring sweetness.
(7) The Beef Short Ribs, cooked for 48 hours with Char Siu sauce, were tender and succulent.
(8) The Noodles Lo Mein, the crowning glory of the restaurant, were innovative and scrumptious. The al dente dan dan-slash-wonton noodles were a bundle of delight, and the other ingredients added a range of vibrant flavours. A blob of (molecular!) sesame oil mousse sat atop the mound, giving rich and enticing flavours to the dish.
The Chinese Broth, simmered for six to eight hours, had a fine layering of natural tastes; however, a pinch of salt was much needed to draw out the ingredients’ flavours.
(9) Even though the taste of plums in the Braised duck leg in Plum Sauce ($68) was hardly detectable, this dish was overall accomplished and the flavours were well-judged.
(10) The Salmon Sous Vide Canto Style ($72) was tender and smooth, and the thin slices of ginger gave it extra flair.
(11) The Char Grilled Lamb Chops with Red Wine Sauce ($84) was nicely punchy. I wished it was served to us sooner though, before the lamb started cooling off!
(12) Our dessert was the Chocolate mousse with ground peanuts; while the chocolate mousse was tasty with an appealingly strong cocoa taste, the portion of ground peanuts was way too little to help break up the mousse’s creamy texture – around a spoonful would have been needed!
Conclusion: The cuisine at Maureen was delicious in a playful, inspiring way, but a few dishes begged for more salt and more precision. It seemed that at times the playfulness of the food has trumped its taste; however, dining at Maureen was overall a fun-filled experience, replete with culinary creations that were designed to tease and excite the tastebuds. Our bill only came to around $300 per head – with all the abalones, slow-cooked meats and molecular concoctions that we got to try, it was not a bad deal at all!