Category Archives: Italian

The One With Linguini Fini – Possibly The Best Place For Pasta in SOHO

I wrote a while back about the new location for Linguini Fini, with its herb garden, eco-friendly business practices and wine honor system. The whole concept was pretty inviting, and so I found myself being at the new restaurant to try out some of the old favorites and new offerings on the menu.

Young Masters Ale

The dinner started off to an unexpected surprise. Just when you thought you have tried everything, come along a new beer to surprise you. The Young Master Ale is a local brew originally from Ap Lei Chau. The classic ale is light and hoppy, perfect for those who like their beer less heavy.

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The One With Michele Senigaglia – Chef of Spasso Hong Kong

You might have noticed that I have been to Spasso Hong Kong quite a bit lately. First it was for their Sunday brunch, and then to try their Valentine’s Day menu. Both meals were rather stellar, so I thought why not get to know the man behind the food?

So I caught up with Chef Michele Senigaglia to find out the idea behind food at Spasso, his fiery passion for cooking, and his thoughts on Hong Kong (and its local food!).

Chef Michele of Spasso

What are the main essence of Italian cuisine at Spasso? How would you differentiate Spasso from others?

Spasso is an eatery. The food we serve is not fancy; what we want achieve is to deliver a dish that, with its aroma, the look and taste will give you the perception that you are eating in Italy. Many guests from Italy and overseas commented that sometime they eat better in Hong Kong that in Italy! This is a great compliment to us. We work very hard to select and import the best ingredients for our menu.

Guests noticed our passion and commitments to deliver a small piece of Italy to Hong Kong. We focus to use imported fresh ingredients served simply but with well executed preparations. The ambiance at Spasso is cozy and the service friendly and accommodating, making the dining experience even better.

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The One With Spasso Hong Kong – Valentine’s Day Menu

Tonight we went to Spasso Hong Kong for a tasting session of their upcoming Valentine’s Day menu, specially created by Chef Michelle with heavy emphasis on aphrodisiac ingredients for, you know, obvious reasons. Priced at HK$628 per person, the menu comprises of four dishes and we set out to try out the entire menu.

Fresh shucked oysters topped with Hendrick's gin and cucumber. The gin gives this a slightly bitter twist, and the chopped cucumber a crunchy texture to the tangy oyster. The oyster itself still have that light seawater aftertaste #valentines #spasso #lif

Fresh shucked oysters topped with Hendrick’s gin and cucumber. The gin gives this a slightly bitter twist, and the chopped cucumber, a crunchy texture to the tangy oysters. The oyster itself still have that light seawater aftertaste.

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The One With Linguini Fini – New Trends At New Location

So Linguini Fini is back in town, relocated to Elgin Street in Soho, where Nico’s Spuntino used to be, and before that, Fat Angelo’s. Wow, now come to think of it, that spot is sure popular for Italian restaurants. I wonder why?

Linguini Fini_ copy

Anyway, I disgressed. Chef Vinny Lauria – one of the earliest advocates of western-style nose-to-tail dining in Hong Kong – is back with a splash with Linguini Fini, creating some new trends with the opening of their new location.

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The One With The Pasta Place – Hearty Family Dishes

It has been slightly more than two years since I moved out from Sheung Wan, and it is increasingly evident that the moment I move out of a place, restaurants and cafes will start to pop up all over my ex-neighbourhood, like mushrooms after a rainy season. While it certainly heartens me that so many hip places are opening in Sheung Wan, it maddens me somewhat that the trend did not happen while I was living there.

That was a long preamble.

I was trying to tell you about a new cafe in the neighbourhood which I visited earlier this year. A touch of New York City has arrived in the form of the Big Apple’s comfort food and authentic Italian dishes, all at very reasonable prices.

The Pasta Place

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The One With Champagne Brunch At LUPA – A Rustic Elegance Experience

(Note: This review was originally published in the autumn edition of Good Eating, the quarterly food magazine by South China Morning Post)

Champagne Brunch at LUPA Hong Kong

FARE
Italian

AMBIENCE
It’s hard to imagine this place would be packed with suits on a normal weekday night, but on the Sunday when we sampled their famous champagne brunch, LUPA was positively laid-back in a casual, rustic way. Still packing some understated elegance with their dark wooden furniture and an impressive terrace for alfresco dining, they have recently added a 3-piece live jazz band – a classy yet cosy touch brunch time.

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The One With The Pride Of Krug

To say that the House of Krug are modest people will be an understatement.

But then again, they have every right to be proud of their bold heritage. I love champagne very much like any other person, but it wasn’t until a night of Krug tasting at Otto e Mezzo got my lips smacking in deep, new found appreciation for this liquid gold.

Krug Champagne Dinner at 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo

The champagnes of Krug is decidedly elitist; but in an elegant, tasteful way. The lineage is curated from some 250 plots of vine in France’s Champagne region (hence the name); a mere 0.1% of what is available.

Selection of the finest? Nose-up to the mediocre? If you had as much Krug as I did in one dinner, your guess will be as informed as mine.

Krug Champagne Dinner at 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo

My very first glass was a Krug Clos du Mesnil of the 1998 vintage. Conversations were rife with speculations of what makes this glass different. The others may taste wonderfully complex with full aroma, but a glass of Krug Clos du Mesnil possesses a singular intensity crafted to attack the senses. As I took a deep sip, I was pleasantly stunned on how sharp it played on my palate, rising above a sea of other tastes with a distinct freshness.

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The One With Nico’s Spuntino Bar + Restaurant – New Kid On The Italian Block

It was a yet another sizzling summer night in Hong Kong. As I made my way up the never ending escalator in Central, it was hard to be excited about an Italian meal which was on the card for dinner. I mean, isn’t Italian all about dishes of which its name you can’t pronounce, of food too complicated to even describe, and of chefs too snobbish for their own good?

Nico's Spuntino Bar + Restaurant

So imagine my surprise when I stepped into Nico’s Spuntino Bar + Restaurant. It was located right where the old Fat Angelo’s was. Although it was only 7 p.m., the restaurant was filling up fast.

To my eyes, Nico’s was anything but pretentious. The first spuntino (which means “snack”) bar in town, even the name itself was a breathe of fresh air. Why give yourself complicated Italian name no one would remember nor understand? True, the menu itself was still a puzzle to read, but the best of food is not in its name but, of course, the food itself.

And on that philosophical note, here’s my top six pick from Nico’s.

Caciocavallo Silano in Carroza (HK$98)

Nico's Spuntino Bar + Restaurant

Crispy-fried, fresh cow’s milk cheese, on a bed of fried leeks. It was possibly my first time having fried cheese, and it was oh-so-good. I was led to believe that it’s possible the best way to eat cheese is by having it deep fried. There’s something almost hypnotic as the contrasting rich flavor of cheese and crispy texture of the batter seem to battle it out in your mouth.

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The One With Doppio Zero – Italian x Hong Kong Fusion Food

So you have heard much about Doppio Zero being the next big thing in the local Italian food scene. That their chef-in-residence Jake Addeo adores experimenting with food, combining the best of Italian cooking with a local twist. That they have recently launched a brunch menu, and opens on Sunday to help you cure that mother-of-a-hangover. That despite the excellent food quality and impeccable service, Doppio Zero is still a little known gem.

Ladies and gentlemen, all that you heard is true.

Just lest than a year old, this Italian restaurant is already Michelin-endorsed and can be best described as a trattoria. At night the restaurant goes up the scale, more like a ristorante, with dimmed light and a more romantic menu. But if you decide to drop in on a weekend afternoon, come in your comfortable sandals, favorite magazines in hand.

For the brunch menu is a wonderful collection of original recipes at reasonable prices. Food portion is hearty and particularly comforting if you had a late night out and want uncomplicated but interesting food.

Ready to order? Here are some of my recommendations:

Signature Truffled Fried Oyster

Signature Truffled Fried Oyster

I love deep fried oysters, as much as I love fresh oysters. The problem with deep fried oysters is that you tend to overcoat your morsels with too much batter, making the whole chunk one oily mess. This one was perfectly done, with a sprinkling of black truffle and a bed of creamed spinach (which was finger-licking-good when eaten with toast).

Try not to order two if you are watching your calories!

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The One With Alba White Truffle Extravaganza At Goccia

Not too long ago, I blogged my virgin experience dining at Goccia; one of those true Italian gems located right in the smack of Lan Kwai Fong. The delectable dinner I had was still lingering in my mind (and on my tongue, obviously) when I found myself at Goccia again one weekday night.

My second visit was to try out their tasting menu for Alba white truffle.

Alba White Truffle Dinner @ Goccia

Known as the white diamond of the gourmet world, white truffle can be found from northern Italy, more famously from around the city of Alba. While the black variety is more hearty and can be used rather generously, white truffle is much more pungent; so much so that only shavings of it should be used with food. That, and also because white truffle is notoriously expensive. One gram of it can set you back by as much as HK$120.

How do you best describe having white truffles with your food? It is like… having sugar with your coffee. It can only make food taste better. With that in mind, my palate was all set to see how Alba white truffle will set my dinner on fire.

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