Thursday, August 4, 2011

Man Wah - (文華廳)

  During our last visit to Man Wah,  the prestigious Chinese Restaurant on the top floor of the HK Mandarin Oriental Hotel -  we had a chance to meet the New Chef arriving in from other famous restaurants in town.   Initial impressions aren’t necessarily correct but I developed a feeling that Chef Lee is a humble bee on the surface but is deep under very talented, paying attention to the finest of details in his recipes and cooking!    Half a year down the track and when Chef Lee wouldn’t find traction laying down excuses should he claim that he’s still finding his groove in this new environment,  we arrived on an impromptu field trip to give him another quick examination.   We felt the a la carte dishes were very competent, creative and artistic,  which really added to the yum cha experience as that also carried some equally spot-on executions by their Dim Sum Chef’s team!   What is more intriguing is that from a brief conversation with Chef Lee today,  one could finally see the fire under his eyes as he was so certain of his ability  (according to his own words)  that he is AT LEAST equal to some of the best Michelin starred restaurants in town.   I actually happen to concur with this,  as after 2 visits,  I found the food here to be so good -  it will easily beat a few of the 2-3 star restaurants with ease.  So much for fairness,  just because he’d arrived at the scene a bit behind the others!     *My Old Review of a few visits can be read here:  Man Wah 2010


Yum Cha dim sum’s are expensive but proven to be excellent,
the other real test today,  is new Head Chef’s signature dishes ..
Easily worth a Michelin 1 Star or two..



X.O. Sauce -
Always lovely,  but could do with a few more dried shrimps and ham,
to give it more complexity and even more fragrance !   ~   7.5/10



Honey Glazed Char Siu (蜜汁叉燒王) -
The version served here is very unique in the Hong Kong context,  as only a very specific muscle from the pork which is trimmed from the Chuck-Rib muscle by hand can be served,  which is also  found in Island Tang.    The Island Tang version has been frozen twice in order to make the meat more tender,  too tender even and losing the pork flavour.  Chef Lee on the other hand opted to forego that additional freezing process -  which means the meat is slightly more bouncy in its chewy texture but retaining as much of the natural pork taste as possible.   Texture and flavour wise it’s hard to argue against as it was superb over the Island Tang version.  However the sauce is served separately here and there needs to be more honeyed glaze.   Very promising,  but needs some work to bring it onto the next level.  On par with Island Tang for now with different judging criterias !   ~   7/10



Taro Nest Basket with Abalone (蜂巢鮑魚盒) -
This is the Signature Dim Sum here and looked after by the dim sum kitchen. It seems to have shrinked slightly in size and shape over the last few visits,  but this was better than before.   Under the abalone is a few hand diced pork and mushroom filling,  and the taro shell is perfectly fried.   Yan Toh Heen also does a similar version,  but I liked this a smidgeon more and the abalone actually tasted more stronger and natural than the similar dim sum at 3 Star Lung King Heen.   Very addictive dim sum,  albeit a little pricey ~    9/10



Prawn Dumplings with Bamboo Shoot (筍尖蝦餃王) -
Any restaurant which can’t make this properly should go back home and contemplate on what exactly went wrong!    The fresh water prawns here were tasty and sweet,  and the pleats on the dumpling were neat.    I personally thought the skins were a little too thick even if it’s of a highish standard.   Could do with some more improvements in this aspect.   7.5/10



Morel and Wild Mushrooms Dumplings  (羊肚菌野菌餃) -
Compared to the above,  this had a better elastic and thin skin,  but it was the presence of the prestigious morels and other wild mushrooms which gave this an earthy flavour,  which is really addictive.   I personally think this could have been developed further to incorporate even more mushroomy flavours …  nevertheless    ~   8/10



Winter Melon with 8 Treasures  (八寶冬瓜盅)  - 
Being a signature Summer soup dish,  because Winter Melon is said to sooth and cool down the body during Summery months -  but that’s what they all say,  but is there any scientific proof?  Why not serve Winter Melon Cold instead of as a hot soup,  during summer?  Sad smile  But seasons aside,  this was made very well.   The scallops and crab meat were tasty and freshly sweet.

The Winter Melon soup also comes with the all important Roasted Duck and also plenty of Conpoy.    The broth was also carrying a  deep depth of flavour.   Very good ~  9/10




Ginger and Egg Whites and Steamed Grouper Fish (酥薑珊瑚蒸星班球) -
This came adorned with some fried ginger strands on top and also a very well cooked egg-whites and conpoy sauce.   The Grouper fish was cooked perfectly to a medium state but minus any fishiness.   Very very very utterly good,  one of the best fish dishes I remember ever having,  and retaining so much of it’s original seafood taste without being spoiled by annoying ginger or scallions or MSG input.  Perfect steamed fish,  accentuated by the eggs  ~  10/10


Ginger and Sugared Wine,  fried with Gai Laan Vegetables (薑糖酒炒芥蘭) =
Not an amazing dish be composition,  but the exterior of the rougher roots have been shaven back to release a softer stem.   I thought it was well cooked and well balanced.  Nothing extraordinary but at least it’s done with heart.  I’ve had better before,  but this here is nearly at the same level except it was very slightly too raw and undercooked  ~  8/10



Chinese Enoki and Snow Fungus with Roasted then Fried,  Fresh Chicken - 金針雲耳吊燒雞
Chef Lee opted to use a locally slaughtered Gami chicken,  which is known to carry slightly less fat but comes with a slightly brittle and thinner skin.    This was cooked so silkily smooth,  I honestly think this was one of the best chickens I’ve had.   The red fermented beancurd sauce smothered onto the chicken as well as served separately.   One of the best chickens ever eaten in my entire life,  and beautifully plated  ~   9/10




Smooth,  silky Chicken Breast meat -
Easy enough to criticize,  but wait til you try making it at home yourself.  This was cooked perfectly and I couldn’t think of any better of the same chicken dish anywhere else…  Amazing execution.


Scrambled Eggs and Flower Crab Meat with Fried Vermicelli  (桂花蟹肉炒米綫) -
This was cooked utterly perfectly.  With the right amount of Wok Hei and very sweet crab meat,  this was as good as it could ever get.   Will be back just for this alone,  which is cooked strand by strand by the head chef here .   10/10



Steamed Pears with Chuan Bei and Aged Fruit Zest  -  (川貝陳皮燉津梨)
Poached pears are cooked for a few hours together with Chinese honeyed medicine and aged orange peel.  This was very fragrant and came with a syrupy sauce.   I thought this was exceptional in terms of taste -   but somehow it was missing a 3rd dimensional taste profile.  Hard to judge really,  as it could have even more potential  ~  7/10




Chef Lee -
I found him to be way too HUMBLE,  even though during our conversation,  I knew that he knows everything from back to front and has also visited many other Michelin Starred restaurants to try and grasp a better idea of what is expected from him.   I could see the fire in his eyes,  that he is ready to be upgraded to a higher plateau and from what I can gather -   Man Wah is better than ever before and easily above some of the other Michelin Rated or Starred restaurant in town since the end of 2010, when they had a major Chef Change. 



Fried Doughnut and Cashew Nut Crumbed Biscuit – (煎堆仔 & 腰果酥)
Again these were made to exceptionally highish standards.  It is hard to fathom why this superb graded , top-notch Restaurant doesn’t get more praise than it does.  The meal was cooked superbly and even more convincing that some other Michelin Starred Restaurants in town  ~  9/10




Price: $350 per person + 10%
Food:  ♕♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours:
Mon to Fri -         12:00pm - 23:00 pm
Sat to Sun -        11:30am - 23:00pm

Address:  中環干諾道中5號香港文華東方酒店25樓
25/F, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road Central, Central
Ph: 2825 4003


  1. I'm really impressed with the finesse and execution here, especially after 20+ years of not living in Hong Kong and seeing how advanced and innovative Cantonese fine dining has become, and not relying on fusion. Unfortunately in the USA, Cantonese fine dining just means seafood restaurant + dim sum, nowhere at this level.

  2. To Beef No Guy - yeh I was kind of surprised at how elegant the dishes are cooked and presented - and if you look back at my old review (well its 3 reviews combined together.. :) ), some of the dishes were of amazing quality! There were some which fared worst off but still wasn't any duds :D



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...