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Airport hotels such as the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott, are often not destinations in themselves; travellers with brief layovers and businessmen on a short mission drift through the anonymous spaces. Man Ho, a branch of the Chinese restaurant of the same name at the JW Marriott in Admiralty, provides a welcome taste of the city in the otherwise drab concrete surroundings. Sweeping windows offer a panoramic view of the sea and mountain free of skyscrapers, and inside there is a sense of pristine sophistication by way of polished wood, metallic design details and plush leather furniture. Tables are well spaced and the room large enough to accommodate both large families and more intimate groups.
Man Ho is most certainly worthy of travelling the short distance (via complimentary shuttlebus service) from Hong Kong International Airport for a pre-flight meal, if the chaos of the food court does not appeal. The menu is staunchly Cantonese, with the expected breadth of selections encompassing traditional soups, roast meats, seafood and vegetable dishes, plus the obligatory Cantonese carbs and classic desserts. However we were impressed by the creativity in the kitchen in terms of the presentation of certain dishes and the inclusion of more unusual flavour combinations. Take, for example, the signature barbecued pork loin glazed with honey; rather than a simple plate of char siu, the meat comes to the table on an elegant long plate with batons of cucumber and some hot stones, over which a sweet soy is poured to create a dramatic sizzle and tantalising aroma. The pork itself is tender and the edges are caramelised and charred – a fine specimen. A daily soup, a crystal clear chicken version with snow fungus, is soothing and nourishing, and is a recommended selection just before a drying international flight. Man Ho’s signature fried rice with diced abalone, shrimps, salted egg and tomatoes sounds like an umami-packed dish, but its effect is less commanding than expected; no matter, as the XO sauce provided at the table offers the requisite kick to the al dente grains. For dessert, we’re pleased with the pretty pink hue of the glutinous rice dumplings flavoured with roselle flower, which gives the chewy skin a slight tartness that works well with the sweet ginger soup.
As expected for a fine international hotel chain, the wine list is neither limited nor esoteric, with a safe selection of dependable labels that span the globe (Cloudy Bay and Stag’s Leap Winery, for example). Rather commendable is the amount of wines available by the glass, which would suit travellers (particularly those travelling alone) without a lot of time to spare.
On our visit, there were only a few tables spaced far apart from each other and so it was more difficult to receive the attention of the wait staff across the cavernous room. However, they were polite and accommodating when serving our table, and there were no other hiccups during the course of our meal.
A filling meal for two with wine and service will come to around HK$1,000. We felt that for the quality and portioning of the food, the prices were more than reasonable.