Located in the chic neighbourhood of Lan Kwai Fong, there are many good restaurants located on the upper floors of the buildings around the square blocks. If you don’t look upwards, you may miss some of these great finds.
MONO by Ricardo Chaneton’s menu of Latin America regional staples refined with French-trained techniques earned his restaurant the title of Asia’s first Michelin-starred Latin American restaurant in 2022.
A pentalingual native of Venezuela, Executive Chef and Owner Ricardo Chaneton grew up amongst a mixture of European and South American cooking. After graduating from culinary school and following a short stint at Le Gourmet at InterContinental Tamanaco Hotel in Caracas, Venezuela, Ricardo embarked upon a year-long apprenticeship at the 3-Michelin-starred Quique Dacosta in Denia, Spain. These were his first forays into the world of fine dining, which opened the doors to his next career-defining moments in Menton, France.
At MONO, Chef Ricardo combines his modern French training from 3-Michelin-starred kitchens around the world with his personal nuances, introducing a single tasting menu centred around seasonal ingredients. Each course is a reflection of his curious nature, expertly executed with creative flair and by way of untrodden ground. Not only is MONO a culmination of his years of wisdom gained within fine dining, but a novelty playground where experiments of past, present, future and everything in-between come together.
From here, the kitchen with large stainless steel chef’s counter catches the eye. Reflecting the Chef Ricardo’s focus on intricate details, the various materials used to create the space include hand-made marble and terrazzo for the floors and special claddings made of recycled wool.
Journey Menu with Wine Pairing
- Purple corn Mexican infladita / Nagasaki medai / Chayote
- Japanese amaebi / Fresh Ecuadorian cacao / Cacao oil
- Colombian cubio / Crema fresca / Yuzu
- Nomad Ossetra caviar / Peruvian causa
- Bolivian kiwicha sourdough / Eva Aguilera 100% Arbequina olive oil
- Imperial langoustine taco / Nopal cactus soup
- Fukuoka kinmedai / Venezuelan fosforera / New territories organic pumpkin
- Argentinian ribeye / Swiss chard / Andean cereals stew
- Argentinian mate cocido
- Piña colada / Nicaraguan rum
- Our homemade Ecuadorian chocolate / Rosemary / Tonda Iblea olive oil
- Dulces: Argentinian alfajor / Our homemade chocolate bon bon
Miolo Cuvée Brut NV
A Brazilian bubbles, the first time I have heard of and tasted it. It tasted like a Spanish cava.
A sparkling wine from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir. Made with the same traditional method as champagne with second fermentation in bottle, the wine is fruity like all New World wines, and a bold bouquet.
A nice celebratory wine to kick start the Journey.
Purple corn Mexican infladita / Nagasaki medai / Chayote
Typically enjoyed as a Mexican street food snack, an infladita is a puffed corn tortilla with a stuffing. Topped with a flower-shaped chayote pickled with banana passionfruit, MONO’s infladita crisp sheath shatters to reveal a savoury medai brandade.
Brandade is usually made as an emulsion of salted cod aka Bacalhau, olive oil, and potatoes, but here they had replaced the cod and potato with Nagasaki medai 目鯛 and chayote.
Japanese amaebi / Fresh Ecuadorian cacao / Cacao oil
In this dish, Hokkaido shrimp, a Japanese delicacy known for its tender texture and naturally sweet taste, and Ecuadorian cacao are combined to create a mouth-watering appetizer. It is finished off with a sprinkling of aji amarillo.
This is the first time I have tasted raw cacao. Several parts of the cacao fruit are used: raw cacao fruit is pureed into the vinaigrette; chunks of the white meaty cacao fruit interject the creamy shrimp and a sprinkle of cacao nibs over the top adds crunch and a slight hint of bitterness.
When mixed together with the shrimp and cacao, the parcha fruit, also known as passionfruit, vinaigrette brings the whole dish together in a symphony of sweet, acidic and savoury flavours and textures. The first ceviche in Peru was made with this fruit, not lime.
Peru’s quintessential pepper and a staple used across regional recipes, aji amarillo are sun-drenched golden-hued peppers ripe with tropical fruitiness and a hint of raisin, all while packing a sultry medium-heat. Incredibly difficult to find outside of Peru, but well worth the search.
Colombian cubio / Crema fresca / Yuzu
Next dish is a play on the baked potato with a cubio with wafers of raw and pickled mashua wedged into the gaps, served with a quenelle of crema fresca, along with slices of smoked Spanish sardines and decorated with nasturtium forage.
Cubios are root vegetables native to Andes Mountain in Latin America and have a carrot-like shape, but with a white or yellow skin, and are rich in starch. They are used in many types of soups, as well as in sweet recipes. In other countries, cubio is called mashua (which was pickled as part of the dish). Along with ibias and rubas, cubios represent samples of ancient tubers from the northern Andes.
The crema fresca on the side was infused with oil from the Spanish sardines, which was seasoned with a bit of Sherry vinegar.
We were briefed to take a bit of everything to combine the taste of the ingredients in a bite. The sardines were quite fatty and was removed the greasiness with acidity from the pickled mash. Yuzu and habañero gel gave it a refreshing accent.
Oremus Tokaji Dry Furmint Mandolas 2019
This wine’s name comes the vineyard from where it comes. Mandolás is one of the Oremus vineyards and it is only planted with Furmint, the noblest variety of the region. Only the golden yellow, healthy and ripe bunches are picked. A must with great density is obtained using a delicate and gentle pressing. The wine is aged in 136-litre small barrels, which are typical of the region.
Macadamia nuts, lime and sliced green apple. Super fresh, tangy and vibrant. Crisp and bright finish.
Nomad Ossetra caviar / Peruvian causa
Causa is a cold Peruvian starter of seasoned mashed potato terrine. At MONO, Chef Ricardo integrates rocoto chili and kalamata olives, an ingredient commonly used in South America despite being from Greece, into the mixture.
These caviar are harvested from sustainable farmers from China. Topped with a quenelle of Oscietra caviar from the Hong Kong caviar house Nomad, the firm, medium-sized roe which ranges in colour from black to dark brown, and enjoyable for its complex, robust flavour.
Foam on the side was made with aji amarillo and came with acidity as well as some strong flavours. The Kalamata olive tapenade at the bottom of the potato mash was a little salty and somewhat of a surprise. A dish that packed a powerful punch from a number of ingredients.
Bolivian kiwicha sourdough / Eva Aguilera 100% Arbequina olive oil
MONO’S signature homemade masa fermentada (sourdough bread) is freshly baked with kiwicha. It came with an artisanal olive oil from Eva Aguilera, but I personally preferred butter and asked for some. And I was surprised by the butter they served.
Kiwicha is native to the high Peruvian Andes. Also known as Amaranth, Kiwicha is an ancient crop cultivated for thousands of years by numerous cultures including the Incas. Kiwicha seeds are slightly bigger than poppy seeds and very flavorful and is considered one of the superfood in Latin America.
‘Montaigu’ butter, AOP Buerre Charentes-Poitou Region-Charentes-Poitou PDO Region
Montaigu PDO butter is made from fresh cream produced in the Charentes-Poitou PDO (protected designation of origin) area, from which it derives its characteristic hint of hazelnut. Sold only in kg blocks for commercial use, they have modelled the butter into a perfect cylindrical shape and topped with sea salt.
Considered one of the finest olive oils in the world – the artisan Eva Aguilera extra-virgin olive oil from Catalunya. Only 650 liters are produced per year, using premium handpicked organic Arbequina olives harvested during the full moon in early November to ensure its purity and clean taste. Only three restaurants, the rest being Narisawa in Tokyo and Odette in Singapore, manage to secure this Catalan producer as their supplier.
Masa Madre, meaning “mother dough” in Spanish, refers to the starter from which bread is born. This is the sourdough made from a mother dough that is 1,274 days old.
Imperial langoustine taco / Nopal cactus soup
Served in two parts, the Imperial Langoustine Taco showcases the mildly sweet and delicate member of the lobster family atop a tortilla made with ground fresh corn and nopal, for a moreish bite. The taco came along with a savoury langoustine and Nopal cactus bouillon.
The soup stock was made from the extracting goodness from the langoustine head and shell, and spiked with bits of the citrusy cactus flesh. Together, the combination of the slightly smoky taco and the flavourful soup make up a one-of-a kind gastronomic experience.
Nopal (Prickly pear) cactus is promoted for treating diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and hangovers. It’s also touted for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ruca Malen “Terroir Selection” Valle de Uco Chardonnay 2017
The wines are produced from grapes grown in unique microterroirs along the Andes Mountains. A cool climate combined with excellent sun exposure and soil structures result in well- balanced wines.
Bright greenish yellow colour. On the nose, floral notes and aromas of fruit such as apricot, mango and pineapple combined with subtle hints of nuts. Aromas of toast and vanilla give complexity to this wine. Oak ageing provides structure and a long aftertaste.
Fukuoka kinmedai / Venezuelan fosforera / New territories organic pumpkin
MONO’s menu changes with the seasons, celebrating singular ingredients at their best. In its current rotation, MONO highlights Fukuoka kinmedai, a deep-sea fish renowned for its high fat content and delicate flavour.
Kinmedai is only in season from winter to spring, when it has accumulated the most fat, giving a delicate subtly sweet aroma and flaky white meat. Finished off with fosforera, a Venezuelan seafood soup and organic pumpkin.
I didn’t know that New Territories in Hong Kong produces this organic pumpkin; I didn’t know that Hong Kong has a boutique farming scene. The pumpkin was not mashed but instead made into a texture consistent with how jicama has been julienned and simmered for the popiah filling. That’s how this pumpkin turned out and topped with pumpkin seeds and edible flowers.
Domaine Le Petit Marand ‘Extra Ordinaire’ Chardonnay
A couple of awards have been won by this wine in competition: the 2020 vintage was awarded 3 stars from the Guide Hachette des Vins, and the 2016 vintage was awarded Bronze from the The Global Masters. This was specially bottled for MONO.
Fresh, succulent stonefruit with a citrus backbone. Warm tropical fruit and a touch of oak. Aromas of ripe citrus, nectarine and passionfruit drive this style.
Argentinian ribeye / Swiss chard / Andean cereals stew
Also known as Ojo de Bife, Argentianian ribeye is a popular cut of meat famous for being rich in flavor and having a tender texture. It also has great marbling to it which allows more moisture and flavor to soak into the meat. MONO’s version elevates the rich juiciness of the beef with a sweet and tangy dark brown sauce made from panela, a truly decadent dish that tastes as good as it looks.
Swiss chard, with its bright and colorful stems, is one of the most eye-catching greens in the farmers’ market. Only the leaves were used in this accompaniment to the steak.
Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino 2017
Finally a full body red to go with the steak! But it had a scary label.
The label depicts four women in Malbec’s history: Eleanor of Aquitaine, for the grape’s French roots; an immigrant woman, for Malbec’s move to the New World; Adrianna Catena, the winemaking family’s new generation; and a skeletal Madame Phylloxera, for the pest that ruined the world’s vineyards—except in Argentina, where old vines, grown from pre-phylloxera cuttings, produced the grapes for this bottle. Twenty-percent whole cluster, it has a floral spice that mingles with leather, smoke, and blueberry pie.
Andean cereals stew is a “porridge” made with amaranth, bomba rice, buckwheat, spelt, and flavoured with matsutake mushroom and pigeon leg confit and finished with Sofrito foam.
Sofrito is a combination of vegetables, mostly aromatics, that have been either processed or blended down into a thick and chunky sauce. These ingredients may include onion, garlic, peppers, and cilantro.
Argentinian mate cocido
After the main course, we were served with a cup of mate which is a type of strong tea from South America. For me, it resembled the Teochew-style “Tie Guanyin” tea which helps you digest after a big meal, but with more oatty taste. Ricardo’s Argentinian grandfather washes down each meal with piping hot mate to aid digestion.
At MONO, mate cocido is served after the main course, its bitter yet refreshing flavours helping to ease stomachs and stimulate appetites to prepare guests for desserts. Cocido means “cooked” in Spanish, in this case, mate cocido means the tea is filtered resulting in a lighter taste that is appeals more to the palates of local Hongkongers.
Piña colada / Nicaraguan rum
An elegant deconstruction of the popular Caribbean cocktail, the dish plays with flavours and textures of its most prominent ingredients; coconut and pineapple.
The homemade coconut sorbet sat on a bed of burnt white chocolate crumble and spiced pineapple, infused with Nicaraguan Rum. For a bit of a kick, dots of pineapple-habanero gel are scattered throughout the dish. It is topped with a crystalline sugar disc, meant for cracking, and a dusting of lime zest.
Our homemade Ecuadorian chocolate / Rosemary / Tonda Iblea olive oil
Passion, dedication, and determination have driven chef Ricardo to start his journey of making MONO’s own chocolate from scratch. Inspired and fuelled by the significance that chocolate plays in South American history and cuisine, the procedure began with a simple cocoa pod and resulted in one of the most meaningful projects of MONO to this date.
70% dark chocolate with rosemary ice cream and Tonda Iblea olive oil from Sicily were served underneath a chocolate web-like dome.
Not too intense in terms of the cocoa flavour and not too sweet. It was fruity, almost refreshing. The rosemary and olive oil helped showcase the non-sweet side of it to allow the fruitiness and flavour complexity blossom.
Dulces: Argentinian alfajor / Our homemade chocolate bon bon
Dulce comes from Spanish and ultimately derives from the Latin word dulcis, meaning “sweet.”
It looked like Royce’s and tasted like one too, but MONO’s version of the Nama Chocolate (生チョコレート) was made with their own homemade chocolate extracted from cocoa beans in-house.
At first glance, it looked like a macaroon, but it is not at all similar. Alfajor is a traditional cookie confection popular in Peru, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile. MONO’s version features two round cookies pressed together with their homemade dulce de leche filling. The cookies were quite dense (like shortcakes) and the caramel filling was deliciously smoky and coated with coconut flakes.
Well deserved the star, MONO has demonstrated that unfamiliar cuisine can be really enjoyable.
The meal was like a lesson in culinary techniques and ingredients of South America; many of the ingredients I have only tried for the very first time. Despite the unfamiliarity of the ingredients, the taste profiles were strangely familiar and satisfying. To enjoy the meal, one should not be too engrossed with the origins or the techniques, just enjoy the complexity in tastes and texture.
Service was impeccable, everyone was really patient in explaining everything. And the wine pairing was spot on. As it was seafood heavy meal, most of the pairing were whites. I am more a red drinker. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the evening and look forward to come back again.
MONO by Ricardo Chaneton
5/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong
Tel : +852 9726 9301
Visited Mar 2023
Michelin Hong Kong Macau Guide 1 Star 2022
Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant #41 (2023), #32 (2022), #44 (2021)