Date of review: September 24, 2012 | Reviewed by:
Nestled in the upper shopping mall levels of IFC in Central, H One offers superb views over Victoria Harbour from its somewhat narrow dining room. The lighting in the evening is kept conspiratorially low to allow the vista to shine; tables are nicely spaced and furnishings are comfortable. A private room with sliding doors allows for more privacy, but the sounds of particularly raucous gatherings are not always well-contained within its walls. An impressive desserts display and fresh shellfish and antipasti counter greet diners when they arrive.
H One boasts, unabashedly, that a meal here is ‘the ultimate experience’. A lengthy menu split into various categories comprising a degustation as well as “chef’s specialties”, charcoal-grilled meats and seafood, pasta, risotto, pizza and burgers. It’s slightly over-complicated, especially when the waiters come over with an oversized chalkboard drawn up with a handful of daily specials, but of the dishes we tried, all hit the mark. Fresh oysters from Australia, France, and the US are well-prepped and make a good start; grilled Italian octopus salad with celery, pine nuts, herbs, Parmesan and lemon olive oil offers a zestful burst of Mediterranean flavours, and the octopus is tender rather than rubbery. The profile of simple, robust flavours continues in a dish of house-made linguine with razor clams, chilli and bottarga, a pleasing plateful of slippery al-dente pasta, sweet shellfish and punches of umami. The eight-hour braised wagyu beef cheek with horseradish potato mash and paper-thin vegetables in a balsamic jus is deeply flavoured and complex, showing a level of care in the kitchen when it comes to slow-cooking. For dessert, the balance between tradition and innovation is well-judged; tiramisu comes with coffee granita and vanilla foam, while our lemon lime mousse with lemon lace cookies and blackcurrant sorbet is a joy to discover.
The breadth of H One’s wine list, which has a decent geographical spread taking in both new and old world but with a focus on Italian bottles, is nevertheless quite prohibitively priced. There is little below HK$600, and half-bottles are limited to premium labels. There are wines by the glass, averaging HK$138 per serving.
Service was slightly clumsy at first, with multiple staff members asking if we would like to order wines even before we’d seen the food menu. However things quickly improved, and service was friendly and accommodating, even going as far as to divide each of our main courses into separate portions when we expressed the desire to share each dish.
A three-course meal for two, comprising the chef’s specialties, with a glass of wine each averages around HK$1,500-HK$1,700. The cost is not entirely unreasonable considering the quality of ingredients and of cooking, and is mainly due to cost of wine. If you stick to pastas, pizzas or burgers you can shave several hundred dollars off the total bill.