Outstanding Cantonese Fare (9.2)

Man Wah, named after the Mandarin Oriental hotel itself in Cantonese Chinese, has remained competitive over the years with marvelous food and services. The menu is extensive and combines the best of modern culinary approaches and traditional flavors. Décor exudes subtle classiness and grandeur, while the small floor space and dim lighting make for a warm and intimate dining experience in the evenings. Wait staff are friendly, professional and sincere, providing each diner with attention to detail matched only by the very best of the city’s restaurants.

We were four, seated in the private room walled by dark wooden panels in the middle of the restaurant, away from the large windows and with a separate set of pink-red lantern ceiling lights. The private room is essentially “private” only by a visual barrier with minimal soundproofing and privacy. The traditional folding doors, too, are barely functional as staff constantly going in and out of the room would not find it practical to close and re-open them all the time. If anything, it’s the experience of dining in a Chinese pavilion-like architecture that makes the room interesting.

Food, on the other hand, was fresh, well-seasoned and light. The most pleasing meals, in my opinion, exemplifies the art of serving satisfying meals that are near perfect in taste, appearance, and freshness using only in moderation spices, salt, butter, oil, and other additives. For authentic Cantonese, Man Wah definitely remains on the list of to-go places in Hong Kong for those looking to treat family or clients to a splendid meal in a setting with history.

Food Rundown

Roasted suckling pig, $348 Tender pieces of pork topped by shards of crunchy, chewy pork skin. That, with a brownish sweet sauce sauce, is a great start to the meal. If this dish was served earlier before it cooled down, we might appreciate it even more.

Braised bird’s nest with bamboo pith, $568 per person Our second amuse-bouche was a light, gelatinous delicacy. The bamboo piths add a bit of heft and are satisfying when eaten together with the rest of the dish. I like the lightness of the dish, but this was not close to being the best I have had.

Peking duck (half), $518 Next up came Peking duck, served as two courses. For the first course, a member of staff hand-cuts the duck’s skin and carefully lay them on top of a very light crackers. This helps the skin stay crisp as it cools down. Then, following the traditional ritual, we were given steamed paper rolls, fresh-cut scallion, cucumbers, and a brown, sweet BBQ-sauce to wrap up these crispy delights. Serving peking duck skin-only is an authentic way of enjoying the dish, but it is less commonly seen in restaurants in Hong Kong.00The rest of our peking duck was brought back to the kitchen for stir-fry with straw mushroom and oyster sauce, to be served near the end of the meal, as many consider the duck meat itself to be much less prized. Overall I would recommend this to larger parties.

Stewed abalone with conpoy and turnip, $328 per person Despite being the smallest and least expensive on the menu, the abalone was as flavorful, sweet and delicate as many further up the range. The dried scallop enclosed in a round-cut turnip was similarly tender and tasty. Highly recommended.

Braised fish maw, abalone sauce, $1888 per person The fish maw was sizable and well-cooked with no odor, accompanied by an abalone sauce that was much denser than I had expected. Highly recommended.

Baked green crabmeat with cheese in a crab shell, $218 per person  This was a luscious dish. Every forkful was filled with sweet crab meat that went perfectly with crispy crumbs, deep-fried vermicelli and subtle hints of dairy. Highly recommended.

Poached seasonal vegetables with conpoy in supreme broth, $268 A simple dish prepared to a high standard.