When I visited one-thirtyone for dinner last year, I was pretty certain that it was the best meal I've had in Hong Kong. ..While I've literally been counting down the days until I had a chance to revisit (Countdown Timer Pro makes it very easy on iPhones), when my lunch date finally arrived I have to say I was a little nervous. I guess it's like a second date after the first one goes seamlessly. Little idiosyncrasies might pop up that you never noticed before. Or you take a closer look and realise you're just not attracted in that way. The bottom line is, all your raised expectations from the perfect first date come crashing back down and you feel worse off and more cheated than before.
That's how apprehensive I felt about my second visit to one-thirtyone. I was realllyyy hoping that the second date would not be a dealbreaker. Luckily, all my expectations were met and I'm happy to say that one-thirtyone remains solidly at the top of my favorite restaurants list :)
We were fortunate enough to book a table on the same day as a dog party! There must've been at least 15 dogs running around the yard causing havoc while their owners sipped champagne and took pictures. I managed to snap a few too (though I definitely didn't have the same calibre of camera as everyone else at the party :P)
This is the owner's doberman Broccoli. He was actually adopted (I can't imagine why anyone would abandon a doberman) but he was surprisingly well behaved! Gorgeous.
One of the owner's other adopted dogs. I think this is a French bulldog? He looks like he's serious about guarding his territory.
There were 3 greyhounds (all quite young) who were adorable in their doggy sweaters and looked perpetually terrified. But my favourite was the husky in the background. He was gorgeous with his thick double coat, and looked so elegant and athletic running around the yard. It was funny how he took no notice of the other dogs and ran around doing his own thing. I guess he's above all that ;)
This dog came with two retrievers and they all had cute bandana's around their necks :) I liked him the most though 'cause of his auburn hair. Not too sure what breed he is.
After working up an appetite outside, we were brought to our table in the house where we hungrily devoured the bread basket:
The bread is delicious here - I especially enjoyed the rye - and I like that it comes with hot stones underneath to keep it warm throughout our meal. Unfortunately, they didn't give us the cranberry sauce that we had on our last visit which was so deliciously sweet.
salmon - scottish.charcoal.ikura
Our first course was also my favourite of the meal. It reminded me of Amber at the Landmark Mandarin - their tasmanian confit salmon also comes encased in smoke and was coincidentally also my favourite course out of their tasting menu! Once the cover is removed, you get this lovely smokiness that smells sooo good. The salmon had a remarkably creamy texture and really just melted in your mouth. I loved the ikura on top and the bits of lobster underneath in the salad. It was just a perfect party in my mouth ;)
scallop and lobster bisque
The scallop came beautifully sculpted in the shape of a rose. I was really impressed by how intricate it was.
chef caith pouring the lobster bisque
rich creamy bisque!
The flavours and texture of this were spot on. The bisque was really thick and creamy, and seasoned to perfection. At first I thought the scallop itself was a slightly strange texture (perhaps too raw for me) but it grew on me (or just slowly cooked in the hot soup :P) and by my last piece I was wishing I had more!
Chef Caith described this as his Alice-in-Wonderland. It did look really whimsical and I liked the asymmetry. I thought it was quite amusing that he said those black dots were swamps to get stuck in! :) The US prime beef was really tender and juicy (though the cut on the right was definitely more succulent). I loved the sauce it came with and the truffle that was sprinkled on top. I do have to make a special mention of the potato in the middle of the plate. It seems strange to wax lyrical about a potato but that potato was unbelievable. I don't know how it was that delicious but it had this luscious buttery smooth taste that was enhanced by whatever goodness goes into an organic, locally grown potato. Out of this world :)
I actually found this palette cleanser as yummy as the actual dessert! :P It was really refreshing after all that meat and I enjoyed the crumbs at the bottom.
Our dessert came as breakfast because naturally everyone loves breakfast! I think this might have been the most creative dish I've ever eaten and the presentation blew me away. The egg was made out of mango (for the yolk) and a coconut pancake (for the egg white). The minute you pierced the "yolk" with your fork, it burst out lovely gooey liquid just like a real egg! I really liked it with the pancake - both of which were quite light. On the right hand side is a mini brioche, lightly cameralised on the top. It's meant to be eaten with the "butter" which was actually sauternes ice cream! This was my favourite part of the dessert plate. I love sauternes wine (a French dessert wine) and it is even yummier in ice cream form! Finally, there's a few "coco pops" and crackles in the pot at the back, accompanied by some homemade yoghurt, and the "sausage" was chestnut puree. The yoghurt and cocopops were fun to eat but I wasn't a fan of the sausage. The chestnut puree was a little too strong and thick for my liking.
All in all, this was a delicious lunch in a beautiful setting and I had just as much fun and excitement the second time round. While signing his guestbook again, I found my previous entry on 5 November 2011. Brought back such good memories :) It's only taken me four months to come back and I'm already thinking of my next visit!
I'd highly recommend everyone to try this restaurant at least once, though bookings are hard to come by. Lunches are $600 per person (4-courses) and probably more worth it than the dinners which are now $1200. (6-courses).
131 Tseng Tau Village
Shap Sze Heung
(I'd advise taking a $30 cab from Ma On Shan)