How it all began … I lost a bet to a buddy of mine in badminton and the stake was: loser has to treat the winner to a fairly decent bottle of wine valued at no more than HK$ 1,500 to be savored with a group of friends. Ouch! Luckily for me, the event somehow turned out to be “everyone just bring a nice bottle of wine to dinner and we’ll all have it together”. Nice! No complaints there 🙂
The only problem was, we needed to find a restaurant where they won’t charge us corkage. We had 4 bottles (1 champagne and 3 reds) so corkage fee would’ve easily set us back HK$ 1,000+! Fortunately, my buddy Nick – the same guy I lost to in the bet (here’s your shout out btw) – knows the manager at One Harbour Road very well and the extra fees were waived. And that’s how it all started; great wine paired with great Chinese cuisine at One Harbour Road.
It was my first time there but the decor and ambiance reminds me a little bit like The Square (翠玉軒). Both are dimly-lit Cantonese restaurants (in fact, almost too dim for a Cantonese restaurant. I like them bright, loud and vibrant!), but One Harbour Road has an extraordinary view of Central and TST to brag about (See really bad photos below).
View of Central ... sort of
Well, if it wasn’t for the fogged up floor-to-ceiling windows … it would’ve been a pretty spectacular view of Central.
View from our Table at One Harbour Road
And here’s a view of TST.
In terms of food, I also find the 2 restaurants to be very similar as well. Maybe The Square is a little more creative with their dishes. I remember having a Spare Ribs with Strawberry Sauce and Strawberry Pocky (?!) the last time I was there. And then there’s the Fried Tiger Prawn with Orange Sauce. Maybe that’s why it was recently awarded a Michelin star? And they claim not to use any MSG in their food, which I think is true.
Anyway, I digress. So we started the night with a bottle of Krug … and normally, I would at least describe the champagne a little … but the champagne (as good as it was) was only to get us started while the other 3 bottles (the main attractions!) were being poured into decanters for breathing. They were, in the order we had them:
1990 Dominus Estate (USA, California, Napa Valley)
1995 Château La Mission Haut-Brion (France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan)
1986 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)
3 of the best wines I've had ... so far
BREATH BABY BREATH!!!
It definitely helped that we had Albert from Sparkz school us about the different make, history and characteristics of each wine. Just from taking a sniff from each empty bottle, he was able to tell which wine we can drink first and which needed a little more time breathing. Amazing.
Over in the food department, we started the night with some extremely juicy and flavourful cha siu that was fresh off the oven. The sweetness from the honey and caramelized fat balanced out the saltiness from the soy sauce, not to mention how tender the meat was. This was definitely one of the best cha siu’s I’ve had in a while (the other really good cha siu experience I’ve had was at Tao Yuan 陶源 Seafood Restaurant in Wanchai). In retrospect, I wish I had saved a few pieces to go with Dominus we were about to have. But I was too hungry and couldn’t wait until the wine is ready.
The already-half-full plate of CHA SIU!!!
And here enters the first star of the night: Dominus from Napa. We gave it about 30-45 minutes before we started drinking the first sip. By then it was still slightly premature, but all of us were anticipating the uphill hike to the moment when the wine would fully open up. And when it did, I was totally loving it. The color was a deep red, incredibly complex for a Napa wine, (almost Chateau-like, but no surprise there since the owner Christian Moueix also owns Petrus, which you’ve probably heard of) very fine and smooth with berry, black currant and earthy flavours. It probably took about another 30 minutes before it was completely ready. Part of the joy in drinking wine is the process of anticipating the opening-up of wine. You keep asking yourself “When is it going to reach its peak?”
Meanwhile, we had a Chicken, Pear and Snow Fungus (雪耳) Soup, which was a really smooth and hearty soup. It was pretty thick from the snow fungus and it lined the throat with a layer of all the nutrients from the pear and snow fungus, which has a soothing effect (润). HIGHLY recommended for those of you who has a sore throat from fried food or from a long night of karaoke. If it wasn’t for all the wine that we’ll be drinking, I think I would’ve had another bowl.
Chicken, Pear and Snow Fungus (雪耳) Soup
Anyway, while we were still waiting for the Dominus to continue breathing, the server had already poured our second red for the night, which was the 1995 Château La Mission Haut-Brion from Pessac-Léognan. Again, I took a sip just to see whether it was ready or not and it was still far from opening up. So all of us were swirling the glass like mad, hoping that the catalyst (air) would speed up the process.
The Haut-Brion thats also taking its time breathing ...
But the mystery surrounding wine is, you never quite know when the time comes when it is ready or not. When you think its ready, the wine can get even better or it can go south pretty quickly, so what would you do?
Well, you can’t do much about it … so we ate some more and took little sips just to make sure our wine was still on the right track.
Crispy Chicken (炸子鸡)
This is the Crispy Chicken (炸子鸡) which was almost identical to the one served at The Square. The layer of fried chicken skin was past-golden yellow, very crispy and very thin (very important) while the meat inside wasn’t dry as all and still retained its juiciness, but it was fully cooked … a sign that the dish was cooked just right.
Choi Sum (or was it Asparagus?) with Beef
Then there’s the beef and tofu dish.
All the while, everyone on the table kept swirling and swirling …
Braised Tofu with Bak Choy
Braised eggplant and minced beef pot. Its the ultimate dish to go with steamed rice!
Braised Eggplant with Minced Beef in Pot
None of the food we ordered were really “heavy” per se, but each dish has very intense flavours (especially the eggplant pot) that, I think, really complements the wines we were having.
And then we kept swirling some more until finally … the Haut-Brion is ready! By now, I was pretty much done with the Dominus, which I thought was the best wine I’ve ever had. But that was until I tried the La Mission Haut-Brion again and that sent my senses off the charts. What was a very acidic / tannicky (?) wine 10-15 minutes ago is now an incredibly intense and smooth wine. Very fragrant dark berries scent. It just goes down really easy and the after taste that lingers was equally as elegant.
Then came the last of the 3 – a 1986 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, which after around 3 hours of decanting, is finally opening up too. Now it was a race to to savour both the Haut-Brion and Pichon Baron at the same time! The latter was opening up really quickly, almost like a spike … the fruit was still there in abundance, but the acidity is gone which is great. Like the Haut-Brion, it has a really long finish …
Just as I remembered there was still a quarter glass of Haut-Brion left, I took a sip and it was dead 😦 I almost felt like crying because thats probably like a couple hundred bucks there. My first time juggling so many different types of wine at once but it turned out to be a pretty fun experience.
In the end, I thought the dishes where nothing fancy (i.e. simple dishes), but they were really well cooked and goes very well with the wine. Until I try an ’82 Lafite-Rothschild, I think I’m pretty damn satisfied with what we had here!
Siu Yeh Rating: 9/10 for the restaurant, 10/10 for the wines!
One Harbour Road
7/F. & 8/F., Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
1 Habour Road
Wanchai, Hong Kong
Filed under: Hong Kong, Wanchai | Tagged: 1 Harbour Road, 1986 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, 1990 Dominus Estate, 1999 Château La Mission Haut-Brion, Bordeaux, California, Chinese Cuisine, Crispy Chicken (炸子鸡), France, Grand Hyatt, Graves, Hong Kong, Krug, Médoc, Napa Valley, One Harbour Road, Pauillac, Pessac-Léognan, USA, Wanchai | 1 Comment »