Just before the Lunar New Year, I joined my friend for lunch at the 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA, a newly crowned three Michelin star Italian restaurant here in Hong Kong. Apparently, it’s the first and only Three Michelin-starred Italian restaurant outside Italy. It created a global buzz when the 2012 Michelin Guide was released.
Located on the second floor of Alexandra House in the heart of Central, it has a rather unpretentious entrance. Chef Umberto Bombana can always be seen in newspapers holding a big plate of auction-bought truffles, and it was funny enough to see him holding a plateful of black truffles in the restaurant today.
Located on the second floor of Alexandra House in the heart of Central, it has a rather unpretentious entrance. Chef Umberto Bombana can always be seen in newspapers holding a big plate of auction-bought truffles, and it was funny enough to see him holding a plateful of black truffles in the restaurant today
Again, it is hard to judge whether a restaurant truly deserves its three-star rating by simply trying out their lunch alone. But if we were just focusing on the lunch menu, I would rate it a two-stars.
The meal started with some quality green olive oil and a freshly baked bread basket. The focaccia with sun-dried tomato was particularly tender on the inside, yet crispy on top, it’s amazing. The breadstick was light and crunchy. A lot of restaurants paid less attention to the breadbasket, but I think it’s a very important element in a proper fine dining setting as it could leave a good impression on your guests. So far, only Caprice at the Four Seasons Hotel, Petrus at the Island Shangri-la Hotel, together with Bombana, have great job in this regard.
However, behold! There’s still have a three course meal ahead. I ordered a “Taiyouren” Organic Egg, the Roman Cauliflower emulsion and a roasted herb bread. The cauliflower emulsion embraced the poached egg nicely with cooked cauliflower sprinkled over the top. There are different ways to handle a poached egg, some would choose to bake it in a bowl and then place it on a plate of hot water, and some would choose to crack the egg into a bowl of hot swirling water… but I guess the chef took reference from the Japanese Onsen tamago (温泉卵; Hotspring egg) which requires strict control on the water temperature, else the texture wouldn’t be smooth and delicate. You could definitely tell the difference between an organic egg and an ordinary one, as the egg yolk tends to have an orange hue. And of course, it comes with a sweeter taste .
Trying out the pasta of an Italian restaurant is always a must. Every Italian chef I met paid a lot of attention to the pasta and they are always proud of their own distinguished “formula”. The tagliatelle (pronounced as talya-tel-lay) in Bombana was quite thin. It was made with a high portion of egg yolk for sure, but since it was thinly sliced, it felt less filling.
The cod was also nicely cooked. The mashed potatoes was nice, although it could be smoother. But the smoother it gets, the more butter has to be used, and that’s always the trade off between calories and delicious mashed potatoes.
I ended the meal with a Chocolate Trio. Ice cream was well made as you could tell by its melting point. The chocolate was not excessively sweet and the crust was not too buttery, making it feel like a “healthy” dessert.
A two course lunch costs HKD $360. You can add a dessert by paying an additional HKD$70, and a glass of house wine (red, white or sparkling) for HKD$80. Fair deal, but do book in advance! They have a decent wine list, but they do not feature enough older vintages wines. Nevertheless, they do carry a good selection of Krug Champagnes.
Last but not least, a Happy Chinese New Year to everyone. I will be visiting some private kitchens in Hong Kong soon. Stay tuned!
8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA
Address: Shop 202, 2/F, Alexandra House, 5-17 Des Voeux Road Central
Tel: 2537 8859