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The entrance of the Cantonese restaurant opens directly from the lobby of JW Marriot Hotel. Framed by tall windows giving a view of bustling Queensway, the high ceiling offers space and tranquillity even when the restaurant is busy. The main dining hall features elegant Chinese décor with a modern touch. The natural wooden floors and dark wooden tables create a warm and comfortable atmosphere; while the soft lightings and waitress dressed in traditional qi pao add a touch of elegance to the environment. The restaurant layout allows for plenty of space between the tables, keeping conversations private, which makes Man Ho a favorite for business lunches for the Pacific Place office crowd. For more intimate gathering or formal meeting, there are three cosy private rooms that can seat up to 10 people each.
The menu is a tome and is huge by any standards, but newcomers can identify the highlights easily enough just by flipping through the award-winning dishes listed on the first page. Recommended by our server, we begin the meal with barbecued pork; which although tender, would be improved if the flavours were stronger. The meat is also a bit too lean to allow it to be succulent. Seafood lovers can try the deep-fried crab meat with lobster sauce in shell. The palm-sized crab shell is stuffed with a mixture of crab meat and mushroom, enhanced by the creamy lobster sauce that is baked to form a thin and crispy crust. One of Man Ho’s signature dishes, dry-braised wild mushroom with goose liver, highlights how Cantonese cooking can be given a modern French twist without falling into the dreaded “fusion” category. The lightly battered foie gras cubes melt in the middle while the only disappointment is that it was slightly too salty. Another award-winning dish at Man Ho is the sautéed fillet of garoupa with citron honey. The garoupa is presented in two ways: meaty garoupa filets glazed in citron tangy sauce, with four pieces of deep-fried fish fingers served on the side. While we appreciate the innovative concept and the contrast in flavours and textures, we are not totally convinced by this flashy dish as the sauce is too thick and acidic, overpowering the flavour of the fish; and the fish fingers are dry and bland. To anchor the meal with some starch, we order the fried vermicelli with crab meat, conpoy and eggs; the light dish is a good way to balance out the relatively strong flavours of the meal. It also arrives in a generous portion that is perfect for sharing. To round off the meal, the mango glutinous roll is a popular option while we prefer the toddy palm seed sweet soup, which is hearty and soothing. On the night of our visit, it was quite busy at Man Ho with some celebration banquets happening at the same time, which might be one reason most of the dishes arrived lukewarm at our table. During weekends and public holidays, Man Ho is also a popular spot for yam cha, offering classic dim sum favourites, snacks and some exquisite creations such as steamed beancurd skin with sea cucumber and asparagus in abalone sauce.
Man Ho shares the master wine list that is served to the rest of the hotel. The extensive list features labels from countries all over the world, as well as a nice selection of wines by the glass with prices starting from HK$90. There is no sommelier but the informative tasting notes on the master wine list will make sure everyone will find the right wine to please their palate. The restaurant also offers a few aged Chinese wines such as the Kweichow moutai.
Service is warm and courteous, with suggestions and knowledge of the dishes forthcoming. Even though there was a banquet on the night of our visit, which resulted in possibly less servers than usual, the rest of the staffs still provided gracious and attentive service.
A fulfilling dinner for two costs about HK$1,200 for two and the medium portion of the dishes is enough for three to four guests.