Opening a fromagerie in a part of the world where cheese is merely a prefix to cake takes some nerve, and that probably explains why the Cheese Room is the only one of its kind in Asia. It is run as an annex to a buzzing brasserie, the Press Room (so named because it occupies part of the site that housed a now-defunct Chinese newspaper). With its neighbor M1NT, a private members' club, the Press Room has formed a promising enclave of gentrification in a hitherto overlooked part of Central district, luring happy-hour drinkers in their suited scores. The sociable manager, Matthew Siegel, beckons me from a packed bar out onto the street and down to a quiet doorway some meters yonder. It reminds me of going for a cigarette in the old days, but this time the pleasures are more sublime.
Whether Siegel really did say "ta-da!" while opening the entrance to the Cheese Room's humidified walk-in cabinet is something I can't quite recall. But the facility certainly deserves fanfare. To describe the air inside as "smelling strongly of cheese" is not quite capturing it; it is as if the air comprises nothing but swirling molecules of brie and stilton, violently bombarding your person like so many solar particles. Arrayed on the shelves, in perfect storage conditions, are golden wheels whose names speak of rainswept farms, dark cellars and expense: Ardrahan Large, Innes Log, Stinking Bishop, Ticklemore Goat. If you want to make a meal of it right there and then, you can pull up a chair and choose a bottle of winenot in the walk-in cabinet itself, but at a large communal dining table just outside, where vintages beckon from wall-mounted racks. (Should you be up for a real debauch, this space can be hired as a private dining venue.) However, it would be a shame not to head back to the Press Room for its superior seafood platters and steaks. I was just able to tear myself away for the latter, but afterwards worked through two cheeseboards that Siegel had thoughtfully prepared, plus the two half-glasses of wine that were the sum total of drink I had that evening. And I really mean two half-glasses. When I said I was going to be bad, I didn't mean completely insane.