This was one of the hyped arrivals to the local scene when it first opened in 2011. As usual, in fashionably late fashion I finally decided to give this place next to The Pawn a go. Sorry for the relatively fuzzy pics, it was quite dim in there. The cuisine here can be said to be modern European fine dining that doesn’t take itself too seriously, with English, French, Spanish, Italian and other influences. The theme is based on the travels of the mysterious Mdm 68 (hence the diverse influences), complete with whimsical drawings of strange animals.
There’s a chill-looking bar and lounge area up front to prepare you for the main dining hall, and an outdoor terrace too. The main room has a high ceiling and glass windows all along one side to draw on natural light. As seems to be the trend, there’s also an open kitchen.
The staff was friendly and knowledgeable throughout and cheerfully fielded our many questions on the menu, as I’m sure they do everyday with food items like these! Refreshingly, they also had opinions and gave recommendations when asked.
Even the glasses have a sexy “8” hourglass figure! Fresh orange juice ($40).
Before we go further, we should explain the dinner pricing. There’s the “delight” at 3 courses for $438, “divine” at 4 courses for $498, and “decadent” at 6 courses for $688. Any single non-main dish is $90 and any single main is $300. Two of us opted for mere “delight” and one of us thought he was “divine”.
Dungeness crab salad, pink grapefruit mousse, avocado and ginger pearls with burnt lemon gel (add $20). This dish was beautifully presented as were all the others but as you can see wasn’t really enough to share, so I didn’t try. I think it was alright though.
Hokkaido scallops with pressed duck leg confit, spice pickled pineapple and scallop crisp (add $20). The scallops were small but well cooked. Didn’t know what the black things at first before realising they were basically prawn crackers (ah, UK memories). Two of us had this starter – yes, we happened to pick the two out of six starters that asked for $20 more. There were also three charcuterie type starters (essentially pate, sausage and foie gras). Onto the mains!
Look at that neatly cut wagyu top sirloin, beef cheek and sweetbread, with smoked parsnip and celeriac flan, (takes a breath) finished with coffee flavoured soil (add $30). I tried one piece which was juicy and succulent. Not initially knowing what sweetbread was (various organs which are breaded and fried, of either the lamb, pig or in this case cow), one friend gave an amusing reaction before ultimately deciding some tastes in this world were too unique.
Kipfler potatoes with melted parmesan and truffle oil ($48). These were great with the right balance of crispiness and moisture, and I found myself polishing it off when everyone had their fill.
Head to tail lamb with stuffed macaroni, broccoli, green olives and almonds finished with lemon puree. The lamb was tender and flavourful and the stuffed macaroni was also interesting. All in all a satisfying dish.
Smoked peanut butter dacquoise with chocolate ganache, burnt bananas, banana ice cream and coffee. Again I only had a small bite of the dacquoise but liked what I had.
And now we come to the grand finale, the Edible Pornstar dessert, or passionfruit panna cotta with vanilla poached lychee, coconut sorbet, pornstar foam and coconut meringues. Cue immature jokes about pornstar foam, pornstar juice, etc. Well, hard for this to taste bad, isn’t it. Context: They also have a drink called Pornstar Martini. I didn’t try any, but apparently the cocktails look and taste good here too.
The final bill was $1,944 for three, or $648 each. Although based purely on the quantity of food it’s on the pricey side, which is the main downside here, every dish is unique and artfully arranged and our all-round experience was positive. I always applaud places which have “heart” (i.e. the owners, staff and chefs actually seem to care about what they’re doing) and are brave enough to try something different, especially in HK where restaurants are very prone to closing down. Of course this excludes anything too gimmicky or pretentious, but I think the theme works here. Try this place once or even just for drinks, and see what you think. Personally I want to come back for weekend brunch, not at least as there are pancakes!
Restaurant rating: NOM NOM NOM NOM (4/5)
Address: Shop 8, 1/F The Podium, J.Senses, 60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai (enter through Ship St) 灣仔莊士敦道60號1樓8號舖
Opening hours: noon – midnight daily
Tel: 2527 2558