Mano

Mano

Where:
Mano (half marks on your website Mano, Y U no have full menu??)
The L Place
Ground Floor, 139 Queens Road Central
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2399 0737

Price:
The five-course chef’s tasting menu was about HKD900ish and with a few extra items, drinks and coffee, we were out at around HKD4,000 for three people.  I’d give you better guidance if Mano’s website had all the relevant info. BUT IT DOESN’T.

The deal:
Ms Two Serves organised for us to have dinner at Mano because she went last week and fucking loved it.  I’d never gotten my ass down to Mano because I never knew exactly what the fuck they were trying to be.  I know they started off as some sort of casual, sandwich and coffee lunch time place and then last year in July, Chef Frederic Chabbert the former Chef de Cuisine of the formerly Michelin starred Petrus was shipped in to fancy up Mano’s shit a bit. Identity crisis aside, Mano is nailing its website wank, turning up its description bullshit off the goddamn charts by claiming that they’re a “pick me up in the morning”, “a hearty mouthful of wholesome lunch” and whoa, get your rose tinted literary prose glasses on at night cause this is when shit goes from “sunshine to moonshade” (Mano, noooo STAHP) and Mano transforms with “[h]ushed whispers and fragrant fusions [which] curl their way into Mano’s complete fine-dining dinner service”.

frankrusrs

Yo Mano’s copywriters – RU FUCKING FOR REAL?? MOONSHADE??  FRAGRANT FUSIONS??  But hey if you ever wondered where you need to go in HK to experience the tendrils of transformation which bring with it a “mysterious new energy”, it’s the ground floor of The L Place. No really. As an aside, I’ve never understood The L Place – it’s centrally located and as a concept it works, but the building has got bad feng shui or some fuck no mojo shit going on, because it always feels a bit dead and sad to me.

Bullshit copy aside, Mano appears to be gunning for a casual, not quite fine dining bistro vibe.  That translates to prices that aren’t fucking ludicrous, miniature herbs, big floral arrangements and predictably, no tablecloths.  When I arrive, Mr and Ms Two Serves are already smashing back champagne and gougères.  FUCK YEAH cause it’s a fact that life’s rad as fuck when you’re drinking champagne and chasing it with fuck yeah choux pastry filled with creamy cheese.  We decided to go for the five course tasting menu, with the cute description of “Fred’s Playground”, leaving the selection of the courses totally up to the Chef .  While we waited for our food, our bread arrived and that crusty loaf was a serious fuck yeah of epic proportions.  That gluten filled bastard arrived straight from the oven, steam escaping when we broke the loaf open and the pat of butter that it came with was FUCKING AMAZING.  I’m sure there was a story behind the fuck yeah butter, it was probably hand churned by nuns in Northwestern France from a herd of cows who are only allowed to eat clover during dusk but no explanation was forthcoming.  Instead, I focussed my entire being on the overwhelming feeling in my heart which assured me that there was nothing more that I wanted in this mortal coil than to eat numerous loaves of Mano’s FUCK YEAH bread.  Given that we were about to smash a Chef’s tasting menu, we only ate two loaves between us as my gluten based desires raged against my common sense.

The kitchen sent out a chestnut and mushroom soup as an amuse bouche, with a small plain pastry puff topped by a sliver of black truffle.  I was fearful that it was going to be one of those soups where it’s essentially cream with a touch of the actual ingredient, but fuck yeahhh shit was tasty and not too heavy.  Our first course was white asparagus with a hollandaise sauce which sounds boring as fuck, but Mano used some Japanese flavours such as micro shiso leaves, yuzu in the hollandaise and a slice of Japanese salty-sour plum which cut straight through the creamy rich sauce for some fuck yeah contrast times. Whoever is importing yuzu into HK atm must be making some serious bank cause yuzu is cruising right up kimchi’s ass to be the latest trendiest ingredient that every restaurant fucker is adding to their dishes for a bit of predictably trendy flair.  Can’t lie though, I’m still such a fucking sucker for it though.

Our second course was a fuck yeah scallop served in a lobster bisque dotted with toasted red quinoa.  Bisque seems to be one of those go-to broths that every fine dining restaurant seems to just keep on standby to pour on ingredients to fancy shit up but at least Mano’s captured that seafood flavour and used lemongrass to subtly hint at a Thai style curry.  While the dish was a fuck yeah, it was becoming apparent that Mano’s service was patchy as fuck.  Mano’s more experienced waiters were slick as fuck but there was a definite second class of greenhorns that were pleasant but not on top of their game.  Given that we’d given carte blanche to the chef, I found that more than half of our dishes weren’t presented with any explanation or it would only be directed to one person at the table.  When I had questions about the food we were served, I’m not entirely convinced that the staff had even tried the food themselves.  For example, I asked the waitress what was the toasted seed in our scallop dish and she answered ‘peppercorn’.  As I’m a total foodie douchebag I challenged her answer given that the seeds were fairly neutral in taste and she then returned to say it was quinoa after checking with the kitchen.  Fuuuuck me, I’m a pretentious fuckface when I want to be but if you don’t know what shit is in a dish, don’t give me a fuck no bullshit answer.

Our third course was a pasta dish consisting of twisted casarecce pasta in some sort of a salty, thin sauce and covered in shaved black truffles.  I assume the pasta was made by Mano but as we were given fuck all explanation about this dish, I don’t really fucking know.  This dish was a fuck no and the weakest dish of the entire night.  The pasta itself was merely passable in texture but I just couldn’t jive with the one dimensional sauce which was just too fucking salty and was too fucking thin to catch properly onto the pasta.  Sure, it was covered in a shit tonne of black truffles but fuck, I’m just not down with covering up poorly executed dishes with a shit tonne of diversionary black truffles in an attempt to luxury the fuck out of an underwhelming dish.  I guess this is what happens when you get a French chef to make pasta?

thatsracist

Ms Two Serves was all about Mano’s beef rib that she’d previously hyped up to me in a barrage of relentless messages last week.  Two ribs were served to be shared by the table with a portion of yuzu and jalapeno salsa on the side.  However fuck nooo, Ms Two Serves wasn’t in love with it as much this time around and I gotta level with you, shit was fine but I thought it erred on the side of being overdone.  I’ll caveat that statement with the fact that I like my meat rare as fuck though.

The dessert course was a trio of different plates (a chocolate based one, a mandarin flavoured one with a serve of clementine ice-cream and some sort of Granny Smith apple sorbet in a meringue shell) for us to share which were solid performers but nothing that was absolutely fucking mind blowing.  FYN’s tip is to skip dessert and eat five extra loaves of bread instead.  Make dem calories count, homies.

Ultimately, I wish Mano’s vision for itself was a bit clearer and at night, instead of half assing this fine dining with a casual feel, I’d rather they just went for it, with more consistent food, tablecloths and more on point service.  While the service was clunky in parts and the pasta was a fuck no, these were not fatal flaws with the other dishes showing some interesting ideas which were executed well with fuck yeah ingredients.  It fucking kills me, because it feels like Mano’s shit is almost there and it has the potential to be really fucking great.  Or maybe I just got charmed by how fucking friendly and sincere Chef Chabbert was.  Overall, I think Mano’s shit was interesting enough to warrant a return visit and in Mano’s favour there wasn’t a gimmicky kimchi throwback in sight.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah on pay day, but I wouldn’t do the Chef’s tasting menu again.  I’ll level with you, I’m fucking tempted just to go back and have an epic fuck yeah of a time by just smashing through the following all by myself – an entire serve of gougeres, eight loaves of DAT BREAD, washing it all back with a bottle of champagne and closing with Mano’s fuck yeah espresso.

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