Restaurant review: Mano Café, Central, serves filling Asian fusion dishes
Mano Café has good service and tasty offerings although the restaurant is a little quiet
Cuisine: Asian fusion
Price: about HK$300 for a very filling meal without drinks or the service charge.
Ambience: the setting encourages you to kick back, with well-spaced tables in a large, high-ceilinged interior. A variety of seating is offered - banquettes to stools to regular chairs.
Pros: service was good - it was no problem to have mash instead of potato salad with the fried chicken; a mojito without alcohol; and gado gado peanut sauce mixed into the mounds of vegetables (it came separately and we didn't want to make a mess). We didn't need to ask for tap water: a bottle was already on the table.
Cons: its location, at the quiet end of Central, meant that on a Saturday evening only two tables were occupied, including ours. The sauce with the Mano gado gado (HK$120) was too oily and didn't have any chilli bite. The avocado bruschetta (HK$65 for two pieces) was let down by the tomatoes and avocado, which lacked flavour.
Recommended dishes: three of the nine "small plate" offerings are tacos so we had the Balinese fish tacos (HK$86 for two pieces). The corn tortilla with satisfying chunks of white fish was made to be devoured, with a tangy, spicy kaffir sambal dressing that reminded us of holiday meals, albeit the casual, sticky-fingers variety. We liked the capsicum and onion crunch against the chewiness of the soft taco, and the lemon grass and lime came through well.
Under "Mains: From the land" we chose the Asian barbecue chicken (HK$140), which, as advised, was good for sharing. Especially delicious was the hint of calamansi. Adding to the comfort factor of the meal, the coffee tart with hazelnut paste (HK$40), provided the perfect sweetness and texture (crunchy, creamy, crumbly).
What else? Mano Cafe is now run by Corner Kitchen, which explains many of the sweet touches, literally. A glass display case of homemade cakes, near the entrance, reminds you to leave space for dessert. If you want to go the whole hog, order (one-day in advance) the Balinese roast suckling pig (HK$850), 4.5kg of which will be slow roasted for your party of eight.
The L Place, 139 Queen's Road Central, Central, tel: 2362 6997
Open: Sunday 9am-7pm, Monday-Saturday 11.30am-10pm