Rating: ★★★★★

Address: 25/F, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road Central, Central 中環干諾道中5號香港文華東方酒店25樓

Telephone: 2825 4003

Man Wah, a Michelin one-starred Chinese restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, is renowned for their reliably excellent Chinese cuisine and their seamless, gracious service. Decorated in a classical Chinese style with hanging lanterns, dark wood furniture and windows overlooking the city view of Central, the restaurant’s decor is classy, elegant and luxurious in an understated way.

From 19 to 27 September 2014, a team headed by Chef Wang Zheng Jing from Da Rong He, an award-winning Sichuan restaurant chain with over 30 outlets in China, will present a series of signature dishes at Man Wah that will surely impress any gastronome in Hong Kong who is looking for some bold and inspiring flavours.

I am invited to attend a preview of this exciting menu, and as I wait for the others to arrive, I am presented with a glass of spicy summer cocktail – its spicy aftertaste seems strange at first but becomes more pleasant after the first few sips!

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The private dining room, located in the middle of the restaurant, is small but certainly comfortable.

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(1) We are off to a great start with the jellyfish head with black vinegar and chilli oil. The jellyfish has an exquisitely bouncy texture, and the sauce, which is sweet, sour and a tad spicy, is moreish.

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(2) Next, the pickled bamboo shoot, baby ginger, asparagus lettuce, morel mushroom, whelk and walnut doesn’t fail to impress, as the whelk tastes fine and firm and the flavours are in complete harmony.

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(3) The glass noodle with braised pork, peppercorn and chilli oil is definitely a crowd-pleaser. The soft, jelly-like glass noodle is the perfect companion for an intense, mouthwatering chilli oil sauce.

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The glass noodle can be inserted into these baked cakes.

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(4) The beef offal with peppercorn and chilli oil has a commendable texture, and the flavouring is spot on.

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(5) The bamboo pith with Sichuan peppercorn is one of the less spicy appetisers. The bamboo pith is delicately thin, clean-tasting and has an attractively crisp texture.

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A chilled glass of watermelon juice is the perfect drink to sooth us from the spicy flavours.

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(6) The steamed chicken bean curd pudding with bird’s nest is a refined dish. The “chicken bean curd” is chicken meat that is mashed up so finely that it forms a cotton-like texture, and is regarded as one of the earliest forms of molecular gastronomy. The soup is deeply flavoured and soothing, and the bird’s nest adds a touch of extravagance to the dish.

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(7) The steamed fish head with red pepper is a giant dish to be shared – the meat on the fish head is utterly tender and soft, and the red pepper is plumped up with mouthwatering flavours.

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We can also add some hand-pulled Chinese noodles, house made by Man Wah, to the dish to soak up the remaining soup.

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(8) Tea smoked duck is one of my favourite dishes and the one we are served is delectable. The duck skin is suitably thin and crispy, the meat is velvety and there is very little fat in the duck overall.

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(9) Do not be put off by the amount of chilli floating in this Chinese perch with peppercorn, chilli and hot oil, as it is not as spicy as you think!

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Putting the chilli and peppercorn aside, I try the slice of Chinese perch and it has a firm bite yet still retains its tenderness. Definitely a job well done.

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(10) The wok fried fresh abalone with bean sprout is a vibrant dish with a range of textures and flavours. The bright taste of the fresh abalone is a great match with the bean sprout.

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(11) We are really stuffed by this point, but the rice congee with chicken broth, sea cucumber, minced fish and taro is a dish not to be missed! The flavours of the congee are deeply satisfying and beyond reproach, and the sea cucumber adds a fine touch to the congee. The most memorable, though, are the powdery, naturally tasty taro balls in the congee!

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All the dishes on this menu are expertly prepared, precise and generally faultless. I am so glad to be able to sample some of Da Rong He’s signature dishes here in Hong Kong, and would certainly recommend that you try them out too if you get a chance!