We’re used to the concept of asking a sommelier to suggest a wine pairing for our dish, but have you ever chosen a dish based on the wine you’re sipping? Looking at things the other way around, the new SOMM at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental revolves around – you guessed it – wine!
An abbreviated name for “sommelier”, SOMM is a casual restaurant serving up French neo-bistro delights to the clink of over 1,000 champagnes, sake and wines. Not only does the restaurant share the same floor as the newly revamped Amber, SOMM’s chef, Mario Paecke, was also the former sous-chef at Amber. Expect dishes that use plenty of Japanese ingredients such as salmon confit with ikura and vinegared rice cream, grilled Japanese pork belly and Taiyouran egg with smoked pike perch roe.
The dark, masculine interior evokes images of a cigar room with its refined leathers and walnut panelling. Designed by New York-based Adam D Tihany, the space revolves around a central bar that reminds us of a giant wine barrel. A team of sommeliers help guests to expertly choose selections from the biggest by-the-glass wine and sake menu offered in Hong Kong.
Our tasting began with golden spears of white asparagus ($158), made crunchy by a coating of finely milled panko crumbs. A vibrant tarragon sabayon added refreshing herby notes to the dish.
Not to be missed is the kadaifi-fried Taiyouran egg with sour cream and smoked pike perch roe ($118). This is essentially a very fancy Scotch egg (minus the sausage mince), and we enjoyed the textual contrast between the crisp exterior and silky, oozing yolk, all tied together with the briny roe.
The seared madai with flat-bean coulis, pickled onion and horseradish ($368) was light and delicate, perfect for the summer heat.
The grilled Japanese pork belly ($278), smothered in barbecue sauce and accompanied by two types of cabbage, was melt-in-the-mouth tender. The creamy, buttery fat paired well with the sweet and tart sauce. The cooked cabbage served alongside soaked up all the delicious piggy juices, while the sweet crunch of the cabbage salad added a fresh contrast to the rich dish.
The Alphonso mango with lime and sake lees ice cream ($118) is a great summer dessert option. The sweetness of the fresh mango was balanced by the ice cream, which had a tiny hint of vinegar from the fermented lees.
And now for the wines. Our favourite of the meal was the Ancient Vines Zinfandel from Cline, a winery in Sonoma County. The wine was more elegant and refined than any Zinfandel we’ve tasted thus far.
Perfect for those looking for meticulously produced, fine-dining-calibre food but in a relaxed, more casual atmosphere, SOMM delivers both in flavour and impeccable service. We actually prefer the more robust, hearty neo-bistro menu of SOMM to the more delicate menus found at fine-dining restaurants – we feel we can really enjoy the food without being so serious about the whole process. SOMM is an all-day restaurant, starting with breakfast and serving all the way through to just before midnight. Aside from the à-la-carte menu, there are also three- ($538) and four-course ($608) menus, with the option of a wine package for $238. We will definitely be back to SOMM for a few more tipples – and that pork belly.
7/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, 2132 0033, firstname.lastname@example.org
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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