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

November 3, 2018 in Italian

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

Dinner @ Sushi Saito (Hong Kong)

October 28, 2018 in Japanese

My August 2018 trip to Hong Kong came about because of Sushi Saito. Yes, Sushi Saito! I read about chef-owner Takashi Saito of Sushi Saito opening an outlet in Hong Kong in March 2018. But imagine my surprise when my friend suddenly sent me a text in mid March saying “I am invited to HK Sushi Saito for priority reservation. Interested?” Of course! That goes without saying!!! And with that, my friend went ahead and made reservation for us.

For lunch, 14 nigiri sushi and soup were served for HKD1480. As for dinner, Sushi Saito served 6 kinds of appetisers and 10 nigiri sushi with soup at HKD3280. Our choice? My friend and I went with dinner. And between the 2 seatings (6pm and 8.30pm), we went with the first seating. But to secure our reservation, we had to make a deposit. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it with credit card. But thankfully I had a friend working in Hong Kong who helped us with the bank transfer.


Needless to say, it was with much excitement that my friend and I arrived at the restaurant. With only 1 menu that was made known to us previously, we started our omakase dinner (HKD3280) with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Horsehair crab (kegani).

2) Dish #2 (above) – Abalone (awabi) and octopus (tako).


3) Dish #3 (above) – 3 types of sea urchin. Starting from the top and in clockwise direction was short spine (bafun) from Hokkaido, red (aka) from Kyushu and violet (murasaki) from Hokkaido. The red sea urchin was awesome. Our favourite of the 3. And I further read that the plate used was 九谷燒 made during the Meiji period. Wow.


  

4) Dish #4 (above) – Mackerel stick sushi (saba bozushi) with crispy seaweed (nori).

5) Dish #5 (above) – Monkfish liver (ankimo).


6) Dish #6 (above) – Grilled tuna’s back cheek (kama-toro) with grated radish, served alongside eggplant.

  
  
  
  
  
  

7) Dish #7 (above) – Nigiri sushi assortment of big-eye snapper (kinmedai), striped jack (shima-aji) with chopped spring onion, gizzard shad (kohada), baby white shrimp (shiro-ebi), 2 weeks aged tuna (akami), premium fatty tuna (otoro), squid (ika), horse mackerel (aji), short spine sea urchin (bafun uni), and clam (hamaguri).

8) Dish #8 (above) – Soup.


9) Dish #9 (above) – Thick sushi roll (futomaki) of kanpyō (pickled gourd), cucumber, sea urchin (uni), sea eel (anago), tiger prawn (kuruma-ebi) and egg omelette (tamago).

  

10) Dish #10 (above) – Egg omelette (tamago) which interestingly had 2 different textures.

11) Dish #11 (above) – Musk melon.

For someone like me who could only dream of eating at Sushi Saito Tokyo, dining at Sushi Saito Hong Kong was an equally beautiful dream come true. But of course my dining experience could not be compared to the authentic ‘Sushi Saito experience’ as we didn’t have chef Saito san himself since he had to be back at his flagship outlet. Instead, the Hong Kong outlet was led by chef Ikuya Kobayashi who came from the Tokyo team.

Nonetheless, I was thrilled to finally try Sushi Saito’s signature dishes which Koba san brought to the table as close as he possibly could to Tokyo’s. Was super stoked to taste the cooked octopus (dish #2) and egg omelette (dish #10). In addition to the food that excited us, my friend and I had a fun time interacting with smiley and friendly Koba san.

Would I recommend Sushi Saito Hong Kong? Honestly… It’s my most expensive meal to date. And if one wants to be really picky and compare the price between Sushi Saito Hong Kong and Sushi Saito Tokyo, one could easily say it’s a total rip off. But! I was happy to part with the money because I am a huge sushi-lover and this would be the closest I could ever get to try ‘anything Saito’ since one needs to be a regular or be accompanied by a regular to dine at Sushi Saito Tokyo.

That said, even if one wish to dine at Sushi Saito Hong Kong, I was told by my friend that reservation at Sushi Saito Hong Kong is very much exclusive too. But do refer to their website for updates on the reservation process.

SUSHI SAITO HONG KONG
8 Finance Street, Four Seasons Hong Kong, 45/F, Central, Hong Kong
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sun : 12:00 – 13:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sun : 18:00 – 22:15 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8

Lunch @ Caprice (Hong Kong)

October 22, 2018 in French

While having dinner with the friend who made August 2018′s gastronomic trip to Hong Kong possible, I was chided for having not blogged about the restaurants we went (in Hong Kong). But honestly, my backlog is really long; I have 30 restaurants to write, just from my trips alone. Gasp. But since it’s mentioned, I felt I should quickly review my topmost favourite restaurant from our Hong Kong trip. And yes, that’s Caprice!

I meant to dine at Michelin-starred Caprice earlier when I was in Hong Kong with my colleagues in May 2018 but the restaurant was serving a special menu as it was the Mother Day’s weekend. Since I preferred regular menu, my colleague and I went to Belon instead. But once I knew (in April) that I was returning to Hong Kong again in August, I made my reservation for weekday lunch by dropping Caprice an email.

In the same email, I enquired about the menu and got to learn there’s also a surprise tasting menu in addition to the set lunch and a la carte menus. The surprise tasting menu, also known as ‘Menu Carte Blanche’, was a 8-courses surprise menu prepared by head chef Guillaume Galliot. It was also mentioned in the email that the surprise menu will not be sent prior to lunch. Hmm, okie… I had to fill a credit card authorisation form too to secure my reservation.

I arrived at the restaurant 5 minutes prior to 12pm. And since I was early, I waited at the lounge before the staff led me to my table. And the waiting staff attending to me was informed of my interest in the surprise tasting menu as indicated in my reservation email. Upon seated, she said I could refer to their menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) before deciding if I wanted the lunch set or continue with my surprise tasting menu. It’s to note the latter was not shown in the presented menus.

No surprises that I stuck to my original choice. And with that, I started my Menu Carte Blanche (HKD2080) lunch with:-


1) Bread platter, Complimentary (above) – The staff came up with a basket of chilli challah, sesame brioche, mini baguette and chestnut rye bread. I really wanted to try one of everything, but I went with the sesame brioche only because I knew I had to save my stomach space for what’s to come. Appetite has shrunk much. Sob. And I was given salted and unsalted butter to pair with my bread.


  

2) Dish #1 (above) – Comprised of king crab, oyster and caviar, this was so good! The tangy potato foam worked well with the caviar in bringing out the sweetness of the king crab. And I liked the addition of cubed pickled celery as it introduced another texture into the dish. Brilliantly executed.


3) Dish #2 (above) – When I was presented with a vegetable dish for my 2nd course, my heart took a dip. How do I say this… I need some meat in my dishes. But! This was amazing. I called this the ‘everything tomato’ dish because it was literally so; Tomato bisque with a layer of tomato jelly (and tomato seed), various types of tomato which include pineapple tomato (the yellow one) and sea tomato (the green one), and a scoop of burrata cheese sprinkled with (even more) tomato powder. Really amazing. I shall not judge a vegetarian dish anymore. Kekeke.


4) Dish #3 (above) – Blue lobster was served within a glass dome so as to allow customers to get a sniff of the truffle & coriander within when the lid was opened.

5) Dish #4 (above) – Turbot, caviar on potato, and saffron sauce made with cream and herbs.


  

6) Dish #5 (above) – Before being plated, the waiting staff brought the whole racan pigeon to the table and explained it’s roasted and smoked inside a cocoa pod. And for the final product, the pigeon was served alongside foie gras, fig marmalade and white celery.


7) Dish #6 (above) – Roasted pork loin with pork juice, artichoke, French bean, black olive and artichoke purée.

8) Dish #7 (above) – At this point, I was presented with a large variety of freshly imported French cheese placed on an oak slab. There were more than 10 to choose from. Unfortunately, I am not too well-versed with my cheeses. So I said I had no preference. To which the staff said he will include Caprice’s signature in my cheese platter. 5 minutes later, he placed the plate in front of me and recommended me to start from my 6 o’clock and go clockwise. And the third would be Caprice’s signature. Can’t remember if he said it was aged 3.5 months or 3.5 years. Sorry. And to go with the cheeses, the staff also presented me with a bread platter. Again, I asked for recommendation and he mentioned the French would traditionally have their cheese with baguette although there’s also the second group who would prefer cracker. He personally preferred the former and I decided to go with that. And honestly, bread is always a (good) choice. Keke!

9) Palate cleanser, Complimentary (above) – Coconut biscuit with blueberry sorbet.


10) Dish #8 (above) – Blueberry panna cotta with figs that’s in season. This was really good!

11) Petit fours, Complimentary (above) – Chocolate puff, pineapple tart with mint, and chocolate with hazelnut and almond within. And I checked… The drawer was empty. Sob.

12) Coffee or tea, Complimentary (above) – And I went with coffee.

The interior of Caprice was nothing like any of the other fine dining restaurants I visited. Gigantic chandeliers hanged from the ceiling, thick lush carpet was used for the flooring, and gold back-painted frosted tiles were used for the elevated walkway which stretched the entire length of the dining hall. Everything screamed “luxurious” to me. And I felt like a VIP as I strutted down the ‘runway’, with staff greeting me as I walked past. And because my assigned table was at the furthest end from the entrance, I walked past the open-concept kitchen which was positioned in the middle of the space.

It should most likely be the fact that I was the earliest customer to start my lunch that I was given the most corner seat. But I somehow felt that it’s actually because they gave much consideration that I was a solo diner; Corner seat so that I wouldn’t be scrutinised by curious eyes of the lunch crowd which mainly came in groups. And it was a nice gesture to be given magazines just in case I needed something to kept myself occupied. Lovely! And yes, I dined at Caprice alone because my friend wanted to check out Bo Innovation which I had already tried in 2017.

I don’t have the habit of going to the toilet in the midst of my meal, but I was glad I did at Caprice. Enroute to the restaurant’s toilet, one could get a glimpse of the chefs plating before the food was sent out to customers. And as I walked back to my table, the staff caught sight of me and strode before me to pull the heavy leather-cushioned chair out for me. Nice. I also noticed I was given a new napkin which was placed on a plate instead of directly onto the table. Wow.

Everything was top-notch. Food, service and ambience. I absolutely enjoyed myself. And to top it, I had a clear view of the Victoria Harbour! It was a flawless lunch experience. I highly recommend 2 Michelin stars Caprice. And including tax, I paid HKD2288 for lunch. But do note that one will need to be at the restaurant by 1pm if one wishes to order the surprise tasting menu during lunch!

CAPRICE
8 Finance Street Central, Four Seasons Hotel, 6/F, Central, Hong Kong
+852 3196 8860, Website
Overall: 9
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Mon – Sun : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 9
Mon – Sun : 18:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 9