KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — The Five in Bukit Damansara is home to a beautiful new place that’s a proper fiesta, bringing Latin American flavours (with a focus on Mexico) and a wine list heavily featuring natural wines (Patrick Bouju stands out here).
Mano is the brainchild of three partners: Brian Lau, Sergio Meza and Rocky Chai. A native of Mexico, Meza was part of the team behind Bogotá’s Villanos en Bermudas, which was once ranked number 15 in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Expect a small menu that’s divided into cold and hot dishes, with the sides and sweet stuff coming in at the end.
The nature of the food here lends itself well to sharing, which I highly recommend if you’re looking to get a little taste of everything.
The Aguachile Verde is much more refreshing, green and clean-tasting.
There are two Aguachile renditions here: a Rojo (red) and a Verde (green) version, and both are an ideal way to start your meal. Literally translating to "chile water”, the dish usually has some raw seafood served in the eponymous "chile water.”
While it may bear some resemblance to ceviche for some, it isn’t marinated for nearly as long and therefore isn’t as creamy as ceviche with its characteristic leche de tigre (tiger’s milk).
The Aguachile Rojo (RM45) at Mano is tart, punchy with a warm heat all around from the red cili padi, which is a great backdrop for the delicate taste of the raw white fish.
In contrast, the Aguachile Verde (RM60) is a lot more subdued, with the main flavours being really, well, green. Yuzu, cilantro and cucumber feature prominently in tandem with the sweet, plump scallops.
The Tostada De Pescado packs a flavour punch and doesn't hold back.
A super crispy tortilla shell topped with marinated bonito fish, avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro and a chipotle dressing, the Tostada De Pescado (RM38) offers a flavour bomb that’s a real handful.
As expected of bonito, the fish is rich, intense in flavour and is balanced out by the rest of the toppings. As with some of the other dishes here, it is recommended that you eat this with your hands.
On the hot side, Mano’s spin on classics like Birria and Carne Asada are offered, but seeing as I went with only one other person we settled on the Quesadillas (RM32).
Quick aside on quesadillas: I literally survived on these for all four years in college. On most Sunday mornings, in a self-inflicted, vodka-induced stupor, I could be found attempting not to burn Mission wraps with pre-shredded Parmesan out of a bag.
They may look unassuming, but the Quesadillas here are cheesy, flaky goodness.
Dulce De Leche: the sweetest of ways to end your meal.
Naturally, I was curious to see (and taste) what Mano could bring to the table, and they did not disappoint. Light, airy and flaky, the Quesadillas were filled with smoky, sweet shishito peppers, nutty, creamy and gooey Camembert and refreshing pico de gallo. Perfect sharing food that’s meant to be eaten with your hands.
For dessert, we had our hearts set on the Dulce De Leche (RM45), which is somewhat of a rarity here in KL. The caramelised milk served on top of the cake had a much lighter colour than expected but make no mistake, it was every bit as rich and sweet as one might expect, and the touch of citrus provided much needed balance to the dish.
If you’ve never been to The Five, getting to Mano isn’t as simple as it probably should be. It’s located in Block E, which is where plenty of other F&B outlets like Pizza Mansion and Jwala can also be found. I recommend going in from Jalan Beringin, turning in behind Plaza Zurich for the easiest way to get there.
To find Mano, look for the dimly lit, almost nondescript sign, though you'll almost certainly hear and smell the place long before you see it.
Mano Restaurant @ The Five
E-1-03, The Five, Kompleks Pejabat Damansara, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Open Sunday to Thursday, 5pm-11pm, Friday to Saturday, 5pm-12am; Closed on Tuesday
Tel: 017-277 6266
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