UPDATE: Amo Eno has now closed
Hong Kong has wine bars galore. You will rarely catch me in one of the city’s pretentious yet tacky nightclubs, but show me a lovely wine or cocktail bar and I’m there! And as far as wine bars go, Amo Eno is in a league of its own and cannot be compared to anywhere in Hong Kong, or possibly even anywhere in the world.
Set up by American couple Andrew and Brook Bradbury (with two similar ventures in the States up their sleeves), Amo Eno, which translates to ‘love wine’, is a haven for wine lovers. Andrew describes himself as wine geek cum tech junkie, and he has combined these two traits to create a completely innovative concept for modern wine consumers. His wife Brook loves design and has brought this to the fore in Amo Eno, which boasts incredible décor, all, naturally, inspired by wine. Think light bulbs made with wine glasses, glass-top tables dotted with real rare corks… even the logo is made up of two wine bottles overlapping to form a heart. You can also buy some quirky wine-related bits and bobs, perfect for presents.
Bottles of wine line every wall in Amo Eno, making it a little difficult to know where to start. This is where the state-of-the-art technology comes into play. The space focuses around an interactive, touch-screen table where you can browse wines by filters such as colour, grape variety and price. Upon entry you are given your own “enomatic” charge card to use on the enomatic machines. Working in reverse to an Octopus card, this card records your wine spend as you taste – the aim being for you to choose your preference on the interactive table and then serve yourself a glass of wine (25ml, 75ml or 150ml) from the enomatic machine. These cards will then store your wine history – simply place it on the table and the magic table will know what you ordered last time. As you can also rate the wines on the same table, it will be able to remind you from one visit to the next which wines you liked and which you would prefer not to spend your money on.
There is space for 72 bottles of wine in the enomatic machines, all of which are carefully hand-picked by Andrew and change with frequency. Wines range from a very affordable $46 a glass, to a whopping $9643 – for a 150ml glass! Although this seems outrageous, only in Amo Eno would you be able to taste such exclusive wines by the glass (normally you would be expected to buy the whole bottle). I dread to think how much the whole bottle would set you back, but if you’re interested in tasting this Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, you could try a 25ml sip for a mere $1786 – bargain!
We opted for slightly more reasonable yet still delicious wines – the 2007 JF Mugnier, Nuits St. Georges Clos des Fourches, Burgundy, Pinot Noir and the 2001 Chateau Grand Mayne, Saint-Emillion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, both of which would certainly be stored on my card as wines to choose again!
Although Amo Eno’s main focus is obviously the wine and the technology to show off said wine, it does have a decent food menu. So that the food doesn’t feel out of place in a bar full of wine and all things wine, all the dishes have elements of wine in them too. For example, there might be some Champagne mustard or a red wine jam somewhere in the dish.
When I say ‘food menu’, don’t expect a great deal. The food is there to accompany the wine, not to steal the wine’s thunder, so it consists mainly of salads and sandwiches, and some incredible cheeses. Plans are in store for a wider menu, but personally I like it the way it is.
The roast corn with crispy warm bacon and caramelized Shiraz vinaigrette salad offers a yummy combination of boiled eggs, potatoes, crispy bacon and juicy sweet corn on a bed of leaves. Although not the most filling salad, the flavours are subtle and tasty and the Shiraz vinaigrette gives it something a little different.
The “Tex-ican” sandwich – chipotle glazed chicken and Reisling cilantro lime aioli on a jalapeño corn roll – is one of the most popular dishes on the menu. The subtle jalapeño kick at the end of each bite and the juicy sundried tomatoes make for an exciting chicken sandwich.
I would definitely advise to save space for dessert. And cheese. Even if your trip to Amo Eno was never intended to include a meal, take a look at the dessert and cheese menu and you’ll change your mind!
The chocolate brownie with merlot cherry chilli jam sounds like something I would never order – for me, chocolate is something that works perfectly on its own, so why ever mix it with anything else, particularly fruit? However, chilli is something that enhances the flavour of chocolate and the combination of this plus the rich flavour of cherries and red wine somehow works to make this warm chocolate brownie even more delicious.
The white chocolate cheesecake with berries and Icewine reduction is also wonderful, as the sharp berries counteract the sweetness of the white chocolate. I know a good cheesecake when I taste it and this is certainly one of them!
Amo Eno also offers three sizes of cheese, meat and jam plates. Winners for me were the pungent and creamy Reblochon, the nutty Manchego (dipped in Chardonnay Beerenauslese jam and it’s even better) and the bizarre yet intriguing goat’s cheese with wasabi.
Apart from the über-expensive Screaming Eagle and a Pauillac Bordeaux which is older than I am, prices at Amo Eno aren’t extortionate, particularly given its prime location in IFC. If you’re looking for somewhere to try great wine but are getting bored of Hong Kong’s current bar scene, head to Amo Eno and I can guarantee you will be wowed.
Amo Eno Shop 3027, Podium Level 3, IFC Mall, 1 Harbour View Street, Central
2954 9922 www.amoeno.com
Check out more from Ale on her fab blog, The Dim Sum Diaries!