For an authentic Catalan meal, Uno Mas is as close to Barcelona as you’re going to get here in Hong Kong. Virtually everything has been imported from Spain – even the Valencian husband and wife team who run the kitchen and floor staff.
The kitchen produces a range of regional fare such as Fideuà, a seafood paella made with broken vermicelli instead of rice and braised in a fragrant white wine and saffron broth. The tick-your-own menu says this Valencian speciality is suitable for two people but it would easily satisfy four, especially if you start your meal with plates of tapas. And it would be a shame if you didn’t.
In Barcelona, you can stroll from cafe to cafe, tasting the best of each tapas house and getting a little exercise between bites. Here, we were seated on a generous balcony overlooking Lockhart Road, consuming far more calories than we were burning. Wan Chai cleans up nicely when it wants to.
We started with croquetas de bacalao (cod fish and potato croquettes, $65). Hmmm... They looked like deep-fried fish sticks and tasted like them too. The croquetas de jamon queso (ham and cheese croquettes $65) were much better; warm ham and oozing cheese held together with a creamy potato filling.
Our drinks came out with a plate of olives and assorted pickles topping the glass. Someone has done their research. Spanish bars often place a small plate on top of their drinks to keep the flies at bay and, rather than leaving the plate empty, they started adding some nibbles. It’s a nice touch.
The restaurant’s limited wine selection is pretty affordable, ranging around the $250 mark for a decent bottle of red. Another option is the Estrella Damm Inedit, a Catalan wheat beer, and at $100 for 750ml, a steal. Creamier than a Hoegaarden while crisp like a sparkling champagne and presented in a stylish bottle chilled in an ice bucket, this beer has class.
With drinks in hand, we ordered chorizo frito (chorizo fried in a red wine reduction, $58) and the tortilla de patatas (potato omelette, $48). It was a case of hit and miss: chorizo – hit; tortilla – miss. Okay, it’s not difficult to mess up fried sausages, but the wine reduction was perfect, and great for sopping up with bread. The tortilla was a crispy shade of brown on the outside, smeared with aioli, but the inside was a naked nest of steamed potatoes that would have benefited from a heavier hand in seasoning. We wanted to like it, but it tasted of nothing.
Our favourite tapas dish was the grilled sardines ($72), a generous portion of whole sardines straight from a hot grill. The meat was salty-sweet and brightened with a squeeze of lemon that rendered the accompanying small side of salsa verde superfluous.
The Fideuà paella ($320) was something special. Although Valencia is famed for its rice, this paella is made with vermicelli, which becomes incredibly creamy when cooked in the broth. Embedded with large unshelled prawns, scallops and clams and topped with red peppers, this dish is a winner but it must be eaten right away as the noodles quickly harden and absorb all the liquid. The paella takes 30 to 40 minutes to make. If you have an hour for lunch, call ahead so the kitchen can prepare it in advance. Forward planning might be the antithesis to Spain’s relaxed style of dining but in this case, the rewards are many.
1/F, The Broadway, 54-62 Lockhart Rd, Wan Chai, 2527 9111. Kitchen is open daily noon-11pm.
|Venue name:||Uno Mas (CLOSED)|
1/F, The Broadway, 54-62 Lockhart Rd, Wan Chai