Lunch @ 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana (Hong Kong)

November 3, 2018 in Italian by thywhaleliciousfay

The first meal which my friend and I had in Hong Kong was… *Drum roll* Yes! Italian cuisine at 3 Michelin stars 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana. And to secure our lunch reservation in August, my friend emailed the restaurant in May since the restaurant accepted reservation up to 3 months in advance. Proper Kiasu planning is the key in securing our restaurant reservation. Keke.

My friend and I touched down in Hong Kong in mid morning, and immediately headed to the restaurant for our lunch. Coming out from exit H of Central MTR station, we went up to level 2 of the building that’s directly beside the exit where 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana was located at.


Interior (Picture Credit: Link)

Upon seated, we were given the set menu (pages 1, 2) and a-la carte menu (pages 1, 2, 3). My friend and I were pretty quick with our order-taking because prior to our visit, we had already decided to order the degustation menu. Keke. And with that, we started our degustation 8½ (HKD1680) lunch with:-


1) Bread platter, Complimentary (above)


2) Amuse bouche, Complimentary (above) – Lorenzini melon and Mangalica black hundok Ham.

3) Sourdough bread, Complimentary (above) – Was surprised when we were presented with more bread. But no complaints since I love bread!

4) Marinated tuna tartare (above) – Citrus and tofu emulsion, royal oscietra caviar.


5) Warm blue lobster (above) – Broccolini emulsion, lobster jus.


  

6) Homemade tagliolini (above) – Butter, parmesan and “melanosporum” black truffle fondue. Our friends were raving about the pasta and I could finally vouch that the raves are true, now that I tried it for myself. It was so good! The texture of the homemade tagliolini was nothing quite like any homemade pasta I tried, and I absolutely loved it. Simply divine with the sliced truffle and truffle fondue. If I live in Hong Kong, I could totally visualise myself returning (many times) just for this dish.

7) Main with options of:-

(A) Baby lamb from Aveyron (above) – Aromatic herbs, black olive, barley and vegetables. When this was served, I couldn’t help but feel the plating was themed ‘garden’. No? And it’s a first to see such a small lamb rib. It just screamed ‘cute’ to me. Keke.

(B) Short rib & beef tenderloin (above) – Whipped potato, red wine and plum sauce.

8) Dessert with options of:-


  

(A) Grand cru chocolate (above) – Baked chocolate cream, cocoa nougatine and sorbet.

(B) Strawberry (above) – Fresh strawberry, sorbet and vanilla cream.

9) Petit fours, Complimentary (above)

10) Coffee, Complimentary (above) – Went with coffee instead of tea.

11) Chocolate, Complimentary (above) – And just as we thought we came to the end of our lunch with the petit fours and coffee, the staff brought a box of chocolates. And since I love my chocolates and I am bad at choosing, I requested 1 of every flavour. Haha. Greedy me.

It was an enjoyable lunch with great food! And I really liked the ambience of the place too. Although 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana was a fine-dining restaurant where one was required to be dressed appropriately, the atmosphere was comfortable. Ie, not tensed and stuffy. And I also credit that to the approachable, smilely staff who gave such impeccable service.

My friend and I were also in luck to have chef-owner Umberto Bombana in the house during the day of our meal; He’s not always around since he also opened branches of 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Shanghai (2012), Beijing (2013) and Macau (2015). And during our lunch, I kept seeing head chef Bombana. At least 5 times? I suspect the layout/floor plan of the restaurant must be a donut/loop because I only saw him heading back to the kitchen but not of him coming out of the kitchen. Haha. And he reminded me of a gentle polar bear. Don’t ask me why!

Do I recommend Michelin-starred 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana? That’s for sure!

8½ OTTO E MEZZO BOMBANA
18 Chater Road, Landmark Alexandra, Shop 202, Central, Hong Kong
+852 2537 8859, Website
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sat: 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat: 18:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun

UPDATE: Restaurant was awarded 3 Michelin stars by Michelin Guide Hong Kong 2019.

Dinner @ IL DEN

July 12, 2018 in Italian by thywhaleliciousfay

The number of friends I made from instagram once I decided to be less shy and meet up with like-minded people is simply amazing. So yes, I was off to check out IL DEN with newly-made instagram friend @jonathanloong. I have been following Jonathan for years now. But we only exchanged messages this year after I participated in his instagram survey. To which he initiated the first text! I just had to say that. Hahaha.

To make our reservation, I sent owner-chef Javier Low a message on instagram. And I advise one to make reservation at least 2 weeks in advanced. In response to our reservation request, Javier needed our choice of menu at least 1 day prior to our dinner. It seemed to be a trend that restaurants are expecting customers to have done their homework (like reading up on the menu) prior to the meal. But of course, that didn’t pose as a problem since we were stalking IL DEN’s instagram account. Haha. And between the $75 and $120 menus, we went with the former.

We arrived punctually at 6.30pm on a Friday night. And to the people hardcore foodies who mentioned (in their instagram posts that) they chanced upon IL DEN by coincidence, I must say they are impressive. IL DEN was nestled deep within Orchard Plaza. As I walked down the quiet long corridor, I even questioned myself if I got the address correct.

And upon entry, we were welcomed by the immediate sight of a 8-seater communal table and open-kitchen (at the further end). After settling our drink orders, we started our $75 dinner menu with:-


1) Dish #1 (above) – Pâté. Homemade with ground pork, cognac & pistachio.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Homemade tofu & sea urchin. We were given an extra piece of homemade tofu topped with caviar.

3) Dish #3 (above) – Aburi scallop, caviar & vegetable garden. Served alongside homemade pesto sauce, Javier mentioned he added salmon to our salad as it came in fresh with the day’s delivery of ingredients. “The salmon is special because it’s caught by the younger generation of Japanese fisherman”, he added.


  

4) Dish #4 (above) – What’s supposed to be orecchiette (little ears pasta) as per the menu, we were served tajarin pasta topped with parmesan cheese and shaved truffle instead. And I was pleased with the unexpected change because it allowed us to enjoy his handmade pasta better. I prefer slurping my noodles. Keke. And this was really good; Al dente and very tasty. In fact, I was struggling when I was taking pictures of this dish because of the strong aroma. I wanted to quickly put down my phone to start eating but my phone camera refused to take sharp shots with my first few attempts. (^^lll) A must try!

5) Dish #5 with options of:-

(A) French poulet (above)

(B) Iberico pork jowl (above) – This was so good. The meat was surprisingly tender!

6) Dish #6 (above) – Yuzu sorbet with ginger jelly and lime jelly.

It was a fun dining experience. Don’t expect fast or personalised service as it’s a one-man show at hole-in-the-wall IL DEN. Javier took on multiple roles as the chef, waiter and cashier. And because of that, I would thus recommend one to be in the first seating if one don’t like a (too) draggy dinner. We were the first to reach, so Javier was tracking our progress well; We didn’t have to wait too long for our next dish. But for the groups that came in after us, I noticed while Javier was slower in attending to them (since it’s a one-man show), the interval between their dishes was much longer than ours. But I say… Enjoy the vibe and have a good time catching-up in between the dishes if one couldn’t start one’s meal at IL DEN early.

And do remember to bring cash as IL DEN only accept cash payment. We didn’t have sufficient cash on us and neither of us had PayNow, so… Yeah. Jonathan had the important task of walking to the nearest ATM machine at The Centrepoint to withdraw money. Haha.

IL DEN
150 Orchard Road, Orchard Plaza, #04-21, Singapore
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Fri : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Thu : 18:00 – 21:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Fri – Sat : 18:00 – 03:00 (Dinner)
Service: 7
 
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Al Forno

May 28, 2018 in Italian by thywhaleliciousfay

After our last enjoyable after-work Italian dinner, my team mates were open to having-a-proper-meal-before-adjourning-to-our-usual-haunt-for-drinks instead of our usual settling-for-finger-food-as-dinner-at-the-pub-we’re-drinking-at. Although it also took us a long while to arrange our next after-work dinner. Busy lah.

Constrained to the East, we decided on Al Forno. And reservation was made for 5 people for a Friday night via Chope.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8), my colleagues and I ordered:-

1) Bread platter, Complimentary (above)

2) Burrata affumicata con affettati, $24 (above) – Smoked burrata cheese served with cold cuts.

3) Parmigiana, $20 (above) – Homemade oven-baked slices of eggplant layered with mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and fresh basil in tomato sauce.

4) Risotto con speck, brie e birra alla spina, $27 (above) – Risotto with speck ham, brie cheese & beer with a dash of whipping cream.

5) Penne con polpette, $26 (above) – Homemade meatballs served with penne pasta in tomato sauce.

6) Linguine all’ aragosta, $36 (above) – Linguine pasta with Boston lobster, capers, black olives and a dash of chilli in cherry tomato sauce.

7) Pollo in padella, $29 (above) – Chicken breast simmered in white wine sauce served with mashed potato and asparagus.

8) Costolette d’agnello alla griglia, $36 (above) – Grilled rack of lamb served with mashed potato and mixed vegetables.

9) Pizza al forno, $27 (above) – Tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, sausage, ricotta cheese and spinach.

Unfortunately, my colleagues and I weren’t too impressed with Al Forno. Food was good but there was no effort to jazz up the plating. Most came looking very plain. I mean… Yes, taste is what matters the most. But honestly, the landscape of dining has changed much with social media; Presentation is as important as taste.

My colleague’s chicken dish left a very deep (and bad) impression. With 2 pale slabs of chicken on a plate that’s kept ‘busy’ with gravy, it looked really non-appetizing. Definitely not something I am expecting from a long-established restaurant.

Will I recommend Al Forno? Well, since there’re a few Italian restaurants to choose from in the East, I say give Al Forno a miss.

AL FORNO (EAST COAST) ITALIAN RESTAURANT
400 East Coast Road, Le Peranakan Hotel, Singapore
6348 8781, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 12:00 – 14:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Value: 6
Mon – Fri : 18:30 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Service: 7
Sat – Sun : 17:30 – 22:00 (Dinner)