Nestled amongst the antique and curios stalls on Upper Lascar Row, also known as Cat Street, a unique culinary find has opened its doors a year ago. Named after the famous neighboring temple, Man Mo Café serves delicate bites inspired by Chinese cooking methods and infused with European flavours and ingredients, resulting in a contemporary, playful form of dim sum that will please both the traditionalist and the novel-seeking foodie.
The vision was created by Swiss-born Nicolas Elalouf who wanted to explore Hong Kong’s vibrant east-meets-west culture through food. After endless experimentation, together with experienced chefs boasting Robuchon and Ding Tai Fung pedigrees, he now presents a mouth-watering menu of dumplings, steamed buns, fried rice and noodles – but unlike any made before.
Take for example the Burgerbun, a lightly glazed pastry. Instead of the traditional barbeque pork, the bun contains juicy minced beef, lettuce and tomatoes in its centre and is served with a mini squeeze bottle of the chef’s special tangy sauce, bringing the recent Asian bun trend to a whole new level. Or the Bouillabaisse, a French fish soup which here is given a local touch using several varieties of locally found fish, with mini fish-filled dumplings reminiscent of wonton.
The Tomato Mozzarella Dumpling gives subtle flavours of the Mediterranean within a steamed dumpling skin made with pesto, while the Foie Gras xiaolongbao, served in a delightful square bamboo basket, is a testament to the sous chef’s skill, a result of five years working the kitchens at Ding Tai Fung’s flagship restaurants in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Another dumpling that was inspired by Shanghainese cuisine is Truffle Brie Dumpling, pan-fried to perfection.