Be part of the in-crowd and receive exclusive party invitations and fabulous offers.SIGN UP WITH TATLER
Man Wah is like a perfectly crafted antique Chinese jewellery box you can step into. On the same the floor with Pierre and M Bar, the restaurant is petite and exudes old world charm, with its ornate rosewood furniture and window frames that make the Central skyline look like postcards. There is one private room that can seat up to 14 guests, a luxury considering the space. The dusty pink tablecloths precariously toe the line of a kitsch 80s Chinatown eatery, but the whole package is delivered with such grace that instead, you feel that you’re in a time capsule, and a songstress in a qipao might appear any minute to serenade you with her guzheng.
Man Wah’s discerning clientele would take no less than meticulously made Cantonese dishes made with the best ingredients.
We start with the barbecued pork with honey. It arrives on skewers, hanging from a charming timber rack, normally used for Chinese calligraphy brushes. It’s delightfully tender and is truly elevated by the accompanying soy sauce dressing.
In typical Cantonese fashion, the stir-fried lobster, egg white, caviar and scallop mousse has a delicate, restrained umami. The scrambled egg whites are as silky as just-set tofu, and surprisingly more heavily seasoned than the lobster, which knocks the dish off balance a little.
Next is the black Iberian pork with kuei hua-flavoured pear, which uses balsamic vinegar, and is a creative play on the classic sweet and sour pork. The vinegar not only gives the dish a sharpness that pairs well with the crunchy batter, it also lends each of the bite-sized nuggets of pork a rich, toffee-like glaze.
The fried five grain rice with glutinous rice and assorted vegetables is feather-light and pleasingly devoid of any grease, and with the addition of different grains, makes us feel a little more virtuous at the tail end of the meal.
For dessert, the classic red bean soup with glutinous rice balls is flawless. With just a subtle sweetness, the soup has a velvety smoothness, and has some softened beans left intact for textural interest.
Unlike many Chinese restaurants, Man Wah has an impressive and well-curated wine list featuring little known producers and varieties, as well as familiar names. The sommeliers have a wealth of knowledge and are extremely helpful. A number of wines are offered by the glass, as are premium teas, and many like to start dinner with a glass of bubbly from the trolley, which is rolled around to welcome every table upon their arrival.
Like the rest of the hotel, service is professional, kind and attentive, and no request is considered too much. Dishes arrive at a good pace, and although some servers can appear a little overenthusiastic, they have the uncanny ability to check in with diners just when they’re needed.
Dinner for two with a glass of wine each comes in at around $1500 (a little less with tea instead of wine), which is good value for what is almost always a guaranteed great night out.