When a chef names a restaurant after himself, you might imagine him to be incredibly arrogant and disagreeable. If you’ve met Chef Uwe Opocensky, however, who opened his eponymous restaurant Uwe late last year, you’d know that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Having trained alongside Chef Uwe in Crossfit classes over the past few years, I know that he’s certainly strong and determined, but also incredibly friendly, approachable and down to earth. Outside of the gym, he is also a phenomenal chef. If you ever went to the Mandarin Grill during his long tenure there, you will have been awed by every little detail in every beautifully-presented dish. He has brought these details to Uwe, creating his very own fine dining restaurant, yet presenting it all in a relaxed and welcoming environment, which he says is akin to walking through his own front door into his “home”.
Uwe, at the very far end of Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan, is an intimate space with seats for only 20 people, at a squeeze. At the centre of the restaurant, from its high ceiling hangs an upside-down tree, which we were told is replaced to reflect the current season (owing to a delay in the shipment, it was still a winter tree when we visited in April). On each of the wooden tables was not a crisp white tablecloth, as you might expect from a fine dining establishment, but a square of fake grass, which set the scene for April’s Spring tasting menu.
There is no a la carte option at Uwe; each diner will enjoy the chef’s tasting menu, which is always seasonal, prepared with local and organic ingredients, where possible, and otherwise high-quality, carefully selected, sustainable ingredients from overseas. Chef Uwe has worked with the same farm in the New Territories for many years and frequently goes there himself to select his freshly-grown produce and then bases his menu around this.
In his Spring menu, Chef Uwe wanted to bring a greater focus to the farmers and foragers behind the farm, and so the feast begins with an array of starters he names Farmer’s Hands. He has created plaster moulds of the farmers’ and foragers’ actual hands, which are used as dishes on which to present the beautiful vegetables. We were quite overwhelmed with the stunning selection of dishes before us, including baby radishes with garlic butter, cherry tomatoes with aged balsamic vinegar, baby potato “stones” on dehydrated beer and mushroom “sand”, smoked aubergine, beef tartare, garlic butter snails and so much more. Each and every dish was utterly magical.
Once we had feasted from the farmers’ hands, out came what looked like a candle with homemade sourdough toast. This wasn’t just a candle though; this was a bone marrow and caramelised onion “candle”. We were advised to smear the lightly-charred toast with the melted bone marrow and add a sprinkle of salt. This was absolutely heavenly and we didn’t complain when a second helping of toast was brought to our table.
The following dish, adequately named Asparagus, contained a single spear of asparagus, grilled to perfection, alongside morel mushrooms and oyster leaves – it was simple yet divine.
The artichoke tart that followed may well have been one of my favourite dishes of the evening. In a perfectly flaky shell of pastry sat the sweetest caramelised onions and a roasted artichoke heart, drizzled in chicken jus, with a generous mound of 24-month aged comté cheese on the side, which we were “invited” to sprinkle on top ourselves. I was in love with the rich flavour combinations here.
To follow came a piece of line-caught sea bass served with curly kale and a light caviar sauce, all beautifully cooked to simply melt in the mouth.
The true highlight of the tasting menu came in the form of the Spring lamb from the Rhug Estate in Wales. The meat was cooked to a perfectly pink medium-rare (mine more medium to protect the baby, yet still incredibly tender), served with garlic and onion purée and baby potatoes.
There was not just one dessert on the menu, but three, in the form of a Spring Garden – rhubarb cheesecake, Grand Marnier and orange custard pot, and (my favourite) chocolate and hazelnut pot, each adorably presented in little terracotta pots with edible flowers. These desserts preceded an adorable trinket box filled with petits fours, of which the salted caramel chocolate truffles were to die for.
The tasting-menu is priced at HK$1,288 per person and must be pre-paid upon confirming your booking. You can also select to add a wine-pairing. Alternatively, non-drinkers can try a delicious non-alcoholic gin & tonic, made using a British non-alcoholic spirit called Seedlip, which honestly tastes so much like the real deal you can probably even convince yourself you’re actually drinking!
A meal at Uwe is a unique experience like no other. The passion and dedication that goes into each dish is remarkable and it’s clear that Chef Uwe is entirely in his element here, which is so amazing to see. It’s easy to see why the restaurant fills up months in advance, so, if you’re looking for a truly special date night destination, make sure you book this one in advance and get ready to be wowed.
G/F, 252 Hollywood Road
Tel:+852 2546 8665
Closed on Sunday and Monday. Advance reservations and pre-payment is required for every booking.