Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Mono Before Christmas

We had another outstanding meal at Mono a few weeks ago. Realizing it’s been a while since our last visit we made an effort to go one more time before the turn of the year, and we were glad we did just that. 

Chef Ricardo was back in the kitchen after a short trip away for some special culinary event in the Middle East earlier in the month, and it’s right before the crazy Christmas weekend for those in the F&B business. So, in essence, we caught the perfect time to eat at the restaurant. 

We went for whatever chef decided to put on our table, and we kicked off with the small bite of purple corn infladita stuffed with avocado and topped with a small piece of octopus. Simply delicious. Shrimp and cocoa don’t sound like a “match in heaven” but that’s the theme of our next course with Spanish blue belly shrimp, just slightly cured and served with cacao in many forms including the cacao pulp juice, cacao nibs and cacao oil. Unlike chocolate the more famous cocoa product, cacao pulp juice got more of a milder flavor, fruity, hint of sweetness and a nice floral aroma, and the cacao nibs added on the texture and a nutty taste, and finishing off was the zest from local lemon rounding off this light appetizer dish perfectly. 

The carrot-like Cubio was introduced to us as the main ingredient of our next dish. It’s paired with smoked sardine and an assortment of root vegetables with the rich Crema Fresca on the side. Another traditional South American dish followed with chef’s unique take on the Peruvian causa, with mashed potato with aji Amarillo chili pepper (which gave the dish a yellowish color) topped with Kristal caviar. The combination of creamy texture with the umami-rich caviar was spot-on.  

Then of course it’s the freshly baked quinoa sourdough bread with the prized olive oil being presented with much fanfare – still the best in town I reckon. And next was another great dish of langoustine taco, with the piece of imperial langoustine from Spain cooked just right and served with tortilla, and on the side, the soup made with the shells and Nopal Cactus. The langoustine was great but the soup even greater with the intense flavor and the crunchy bits of cactus. 

I loved how the piece of Kinmedai fillet was presented, sort of folded with the skin-side out, marinated with Venezuela spices and gently poached. Fosforera is the traditional soup in Venezuela but here Chef Ricardo turned that into the sauce of the dish with a bouillabaisse-like taste. On the side was mashed pumpkin (from local farm) and mandarin puree for the touch of sweetness. 

Our main course of Venison was introduced to us as the whole bone-in rack before it’s carved into individual portions. Didn’t catch much of the game season this year but I was glad to have this piece coming from the Welsh Rhug Estate Farm, cooked with the center pinkish, juicy and tender with the slightly sweet Mexican Hibiscus Mole and jus on the side with pickled roselle for the hint of acidity. Serving in a separate bowl was what described as Andean cereal stew with a hint of coconut for the comforting flavor that paired well with the rich piece of game meat. 

After the sip of the cup of Mate Cocido served as digestif drink at the restaurant, two desserts were served – one inspired by the classic Caribbean pina colada (coconut sorbet with candied pineapples) and one inspired by Tres Leches (coffee icecream topped with a creamy espuma) And then there’s a pair of Petit Fours, including the amazing alfajor. 

Started our evening with a glass of Krug, courtesy of chef, and for the main course, I went with a glass of Malbec recommended by Mauricio their restaurant manager with the bottle just opened an hour ago. Big on black fruit notes with hint of nutty coffee. Liked the rounded tannins too, which was impressive for a wine this young and so ready to drink. 

More photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72177720304787769 

When? December 20 2022
Where? Mono, Level 5, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Rhug Estate Venison, Mexican Hibiscus Mole, Roselle, Andean Cereal Stew
Champagne Krug Grande Cuvee Brut 170eme Edition
2019 Catena Zapata Argentino Vineyard Malbec
Web: www.mono.hk 

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