Madam Sixty Ate isn’t just a restaurant. It’s a gastronomic narrative that’s brimming with quirky little details and fun personal touches. Located on the first floor of the swanky J Senses complex, the elevator opens up to a massive painting of a pig in wooly attire. From there, you’re presented with two options: enjoy a bespoke cocktail in the study room-themed bar and lounge area, or head straight into the dining room for your feast. If you opt for the latter, you’ll be guided past the long open kitchen where chef director Chris Woodyard (former culinary director at the W Hong Kong and chef-owner of Three Clicks West in Annandale, Australia) and head chef Andrew Braham turn out stunning pieces of edible art.
There’s a seven-course tasting menu ($680) but we strongly recommend you go à la carte as this is where some of the best dishes are hidden. The ‘paella for Pedro’ ($110) for example is an excitingly different iteration of the iconic Spanish dish. Pieces of mussels, rabbit and sashimied shrimp are arranged ever-so-carefully around cubes of chorizo, puffed rice and popcorn. The whole thing is laid to rest over a narrow strip of powderised dried tomato and embellished with crunchy sheets of black squid ink. Every bite is a new layer of textures and flavours; every bite tells a different story.
Other starters feel less thrilling compared to the paella. The trout ceviche ($110) arrives as a gorgeous composition on the plate with folds of translucent, pink fish decorated with fresh herbs and smears of citrus sauce. This looks better than it tastes though. The fish is dry and underseasoned, devoid of the tang and spicy kick that defines your typical ceviche. We sampled another signature app, this time from the ‘charcuterie’ section – a foie gras terrine served with tonic water gel, zested orange and two thin slices of spice bread ($120). The foie is subtle with a smooth consistency that spreads easily. It’s delicious in its own right but is easily overshadowed when devoured with the fruit-studded toast.
Thankfully, Woodyard and Braham return to peak performance when the mains roll out. The restaurant’s take on the Basque Country’s marmitako fish stew is plated like a miniature seafood garden ($290). A large hunk of seared bonito sits proudly atop a bed of mussels and chorizo sausages. The fish is stellar – the oily flesh is milky soft and imbibed in the spicy, zippy flavours of the tomato and piquillo pepper consommé. The skin is crisp, with a thin film of gelatin underneath that melts on the tongue.
The ‘pig in sheep’s clothing’ ($270) is another fun offering. A fatty slab of Mangalitsa pork belly is slow-cooked to show off its wagyu-like qualities. The meat is then garnished with curls of crispy pork crackling and an insanely satisfying lasagne laced with plenty of cheese and tender pork cheeks. This is definitely a keeper.
Creativity is kicked up yet another notch in the sweets selection. We guarantee you’ve never had a mille feuille ($80) the way Madam Sixty Ate does it. The whimsical plate starts with an extrusion of rice pudding mousse stabbed with crisp shards of dehydrated and candied apples. Blobs of vanilla mousse and milk sorbet temper the tart fruit and round the dessert off on a mellow note. If you only have room for one dessert though, make a beeline for the honey parfait ($85) – a messy, sweet and salty medley of chocolate mousse, crushed chocolate flakes and salted caramel on crunchy, sticky bits of crumbled honeycomb.
There’s plenty of heart put into Madam Sixty Ate and this shines through in both the excellent food and service. A meal here is a fun and exciting experience and it’s something we’d happily try again sooner rather than later. Dorothy So
Shop 8, 1/F, The Podium, J Senses, 60 Johnston Rd, Wan Chai, 2527 2558; www.madamsixtyate.com.hk. Daily noon-midnight.
Paella for Pedro $110
Ceviche of trout $110
Pig in sheep’s clothing $270
Bonito marmitako $290
Vanilla mille feuille $70
Honey parfait $85
Ten percent service charge $93.50
Total (for two) $1,028.50