Nestled on the 11th floor of 18 On Lan Street in Central, 1111 ONES certainly does not shy away from the number 1. Considered the universal number of good omens, 1111 ONES is a fine-dining establishment showcasing refined dishes with subtle undercurrents of classic Cantonese flavours.
The 35-seat, 2,400-square-foot space is designed by Myron Kwan of M.R. Studio to reflect the soothing, tawny, cinnamon-hued curves of Antelope Canyon in Arizona. Upon stepping out from the lift, guests are greeted by ombré caramel and orange tones that open up to a main dining room flanked by an open kitchen. Origami doors fold to create one central private dining room or two separate rooms at the back.
Chef Will Leung, a veteran of fine-dining restaurants Felix and Gaddi’s and a popular guest chef on Hong Kong Open TV shows, is the energetic force behind the kitchen counter. Two tasting menus are available, with options for either six ($1,288/person) or eight courses ($1,588/person) of indulgence. There are no detailed descriptions nor menu cards – instead, guests are asked beforehand for any food intolerances and are then presented with a beautiful book of photographs by award-winning landscape photographer Kelvin Yuen. Each photo in the book accompanies a dish, acting as a creative expression of that dish. As an interesting side note, Chef Leung and Kelvin actually met years ago while hiking here in Hong Kong, and both are avid landscape photographers. From then on, they’ve forged a friendship that led to this collaboration.
We opted for the eight-course menu to fully immerse ourselves in the narrative of the restaurant. The amuse-bouches arrived in a beautifully carved wooden box accompanied by a photo of the steep Dolomites mountain range in Italy.
The delectables ranged from a delicate tomato tart bordered by tiny melon balls and drizzled with pomelo water, to an egg waffle topped with a cold, savoury cream, to breadsticks dipped in white truffle cream. We loved the robust, sun-ripened flavour of the diced tomatoes in the tart, as well as the temperature contrast between the hot egg waffle and icy, savoury cream.
The next dish, inspired by a photo of the Northern Lights in Norway, features layers of bamboo shoot, wood fungus, king crab and pickled vegetables, topped with a gelée made from huadiao wine and shrimp, as well as fresh sea urchin roe. “Snow” made from olive oil completes the picture. We thoroughly enjoyed the textural contrast of the various layers, as well as the sweetness of the crab against the briny pickled vegetables.
Here’s the chef hard at work!
Accompanying a photo of Mount Bromo in Indonesia is this shrimp cake, a twist on the traditional Indonesian appetiser. However, Chef Leung’s rendition also features a hearty centre of beef and potato, a nod to the much-loved beef rendang of Indonesian cuisine. Shrimp powder made from the shrimp used in the huadiao gelée in the previous king crab dish is dusted over the shrimp cake for an extra umami hit, also keeping kitchen wastage to a minimum. Vibrant tomato chutney ties all the flavours together.
A perfect bowl to warm up with in the winter, the pork bone, dried scallop, local chicken and maitake mushroom consommé takes more than 10 hours of slow simmering to create and is poured from a teapot over a semi-dried oyster nestled between mushrooms. This dish is inspired by a photo of Sai Kung in Hong Kong, bordering a pearl farm. Chef Leung visited the pearl farm and noticed that once the pearls are harvested, the oyster meat is thrown away. He struck a deal with the farmer to harvest the oyster meat in his own kitchen in order to reduce food wastage. Hence, the dish is also named 东方之珠, which has the dual meaning of “pearl of the Orient”.
The clear broth brims with umami notes, and the semi-dried oyster further concentrates the seafood flavours. The slightly chewy oyster, owing to the drying process, allows diners to prolong the umami aromas, although we appreciate that this type of very concentrated seafood flavour might not be for everyone.
We were excited to see cobia on the menu; we really enjoy eating this relatively lean white fish that’s native to HK waters. Served under a blanket of house-cured salted egg yolk shavings, green pea sauce, malt vinegar foam and tempura bamboo shoots, the robust white fish makes for hearty mouthfuls. The malt vinegar foam helps to break up the richness of the egg yolk and seared fish, also curiously reminding us of fish and chips. This dish is accompanied by a photo of the vast Quiraing landscape on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.
We’ve all heard of soft-shelled crab, but have you ever tried soft-shelled lobster? Using lobsters during their molting phase, this dish features two ways of cooking the shellfish. The lobster tail is confited in butter, while the head and claw are fried with a dash of yuzu soy sauce. Mandarin citrus gel spiced with Cointreau and konjac sheets soaked in dashi complete the dish. We loved biting into the lobster head, with the soft shell keeping all the rich, buttery lobster fat in place. The lobster tail was a little too overwhelming in terms of the aroma of the butter confit. We wished that the sauce was lighter so that the natural seafood flavour of the lobster could shine through. The accompanying photo is of the rugged, dry landscape of Factory Butte in Utah.
This photo of Antelope Canyon, which inspired the decor of the restaurant, is presented alongside an Angus beef and carrot dish. The Angus beef was perfectly cooked to a juicy blush, encased in a flavourful pastrami crust. A curious carrot and milk tea sauce, alongside candy-like carrot jerky and a sugar pastry wheel, complete the dish. The combination of sweet carrot purée with milk tea works surprisingly well with the robust beef, and we also enjoyed the tiny drops of smoked tea oil nestled in mini onion folds scattered around the dish.
A classic Cantonese flavour combination, the mango sorbet and pomelo dessert is given a luxurious touch with bird’s nest. The delicate, refreshingly icy dessert is accompanied by a photo of Mount Fitz Roy in Patagonia.
The final dessert features dark chocolate and Chinese rose liquor (mei kuei lu chiew) crème atop a crunchy Earl Grey cookie wafer, crowned with roasted chestnuts. We liked the contrast between the sweet cookie bottom and slight savouriness of the liquor-infused crème, adding more complexity to the dish.
A platter of petits fours signalled a sweet finish to our meal.
We have to admit, with a name like 1111 ONES, we had no idea what to expect. However, we were pleasantly surprised by Chef Leung’s imaginative dishes and flawless fine-dining execution. We will certainly recommend 1111 ONES for an immersive culinary experience, especially for a celebratory meal.
11/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, 2910 1128, book online
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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