Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Keeping it Simple at The Pasta Place

Simple eats are invariably the most satisfying and that’s what mother and daughter-owned The Pasta Place in Sheung Wan aims to do by going back to basics and providing hearty pasta dishes and desserts in a home-style setting. Despite owner Andrea Wannop being a Brit, her love of NYC and cooking Italian-American dishes inspired her and her daughter Charlotte to open their own establishment.

The Pasta Place is cosy, small and decorated with vintage wallpaper and black and white photos. A compact selection of Appetisers, Small Plates for sharing, Sandwiches and Pasta dishes grace the menu, though of course, it is the pasta that one would be most interested in. All the pasta sauces are Andrea’s own recipes and if any of them tickle your fancy, you are in luck as they are now bottling and selling her sauces.The Pasta Place

The Pasta Place

The Pasta Place

By kind invitation, my friend and I popped over one evening to try the food over a catch-up session. I started with a thirst-quenching homemade Mixed Berry spritzer before taking a forkful of their appetiser- Eggplant Parmigiana. The layers of roasted eggplant, mozzarella and pomodoro sauce came well together and I liked the burst of basil that came through. I would have preferred it if the eggplant could have been slightly more roasted but otherwise this was a lovely dish to begin with.

Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmigiana

We then chose to try their Small Plates selection (you choose three dishes to share for $70 per person) and opted for the Caprese Skewers, Italian Meatballs and Garlic Mushrooms. The Caprese Skewers were an uncomplicated combination of Buffalo Mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes and basil. The Italian Meatballs were succulent and quite aromatic and I would have loved to have had them on a plate of spaghetti, which is sadly not offered amongst the pasta dishes! We also enjoyed the Garlic mushrooms which I do not recommend getting if you are on a date or going home to a loved one straight after, but if you are garlic fans like we are, then these will be right up your street.

Garlic mushrooms

Garlic mushrooms

Caprese skewers

Caprese skewers

Italian meatballs

Italian meatballs

For mains, my friend had the NYC Style Penne alla Vodka with Chicken Breast. Here, the pasta (I nicked some haha), was nicely al dente and the sauce rich and creamy with a good balance of tomato and garlic flavours and a sharpish tang from the splash of vodka. We both agreed that this would have been a far more comforting dish if they had a been more sauce.

NYC Style Penne alla Vodka

NYC Style Penne alla Vodka

IMG_9258

Spaghetti Carbonara

As for my chosen main, I went for my ultimate pasta comfort dish Spaghetti Carbonara. This was cream and carb satisfaction to the max with a generous topping of Parmesan cheese, just the way I like it. It was cheesy and filling and completely obliterated any feeling of hunger. The major let-down of both mains was that they came out a bit on the lukewarm side, something that I later relayed to Charlotte.

To end, we had the Tiramisu and the Chocolate Fudge Brownie with Gelato. Both were solid offerings; the rich chocolate brownie sufficiently gooey/chewy and the Tiramisu flavours light and delicate.

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

Chocolate Fudge Brownie

Chocolate Fudge Brownie

The Pasta Place is by no means out there to compete with other establishments such as Doppio Zero and I like that this mother-daughter duo are doing something they both love and gain inspiration from. The Pasta Place will appeal to you if you crave an enjoyable, affordable meal in a restaurant with no airs or graces, just smiles and happy attitude to life.

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

 

$$-$$$$$$$$$$

The Pasta Place, 8 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan, Tel: 2774 6692 http://www.thepastaplace.com.hk

This was by kind invitation- thank you to Andrea and Charlotte at The Pasta Place for having us!

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Stone Nullah Tavern- a stone’s throw from reinvention

There have been a few places that have popped up in recent months (think Restoration, Catalunya, Mayta), but I haven’t really been following the new restaurant scene avidly, as frankly, my wallet needs a rest and the turnover is making my head hurt a little! I mention my wallet as it seems to be somewhat of a trend for these newest establishments to be a tad pricey (something that friends and I have been discussing of late) and the food isn’t necessarily completely worth the moolah though I can commend their efforts and in most cases innovation.

One such place is Stone Nullah Tavern, a liquor bar and eatery which specialises in ‘New American’ cuisine which essentially means taking classic American dishes and adding a modern pizzazz to them. Positives first- the desserts are the winners on the menu (more on that later) and the location is great. So named after Stone Nullah Lane in Wan Chai, it was opened by IHM, the same group that brought as Linguini Fini and Posto Pubblico. It is in an area of Wanch that is fast-becoming an alternative hip hangout: opposite the Zenith and near the Hopewell Centre and round the corner from a little eatery that sells excellent dumplings. Eclectic collection of places, but somehow it works. The open glass-fronted entrance greets patrons and the liquor bar entices the weary. The casual dining area lies behind the bar and with the timber panelling, framed old maps and low lighting, I felt as if I was at sea on a ship, minus the watery surroundings, (and the swaying).2013-05-08 20.18.52

When friends and I visited Stone Nullah it happened to be an amber rainstorm which did add to the ‘ship at sea’ ambience and it was loud inside. Wooden panelling is not conducive to good conversation, so we found ourselves taking twice as long to complete dialogue. The menu has a layout of 7 sections of íncreasingly biological terminology: ‘vegetation, fungi and tubers’, ‘legumes, grains & pulses’, ‘crustaceans, cephalopods and bivalves’, ‘swine’, ‘bovine & fowl’, ‘pickled’ and ‘confectionary’. Whilst this is quite quaint to those who understand the terms cephalopods, bivalves (octopus, squid and shellfish respectively) and tubers (potatoes), this may be quite puzzling for others or just a tad pretentious?

Complicated names aside, the dishes we sampled that night were all quite rich and salty, which was a shame, as the menu does offer some interesting combinations.

First up, the Quinoa Thanksgiving Stuffing with sage, sausage and foie gras gravy, sounded irresistible and the initial few bites were enjoyable and savoury, with a hint of the foie gras coming through. One too many bites though and you will fill yourself up!

Quinoa Thanksgiving Stuffing

Quinoa Thanksgiving Stuffing

The Mac & Cheese with egg yolk and sharp cheddar, as yummy as it seems was underwhelming. The egg yolk did nothing to combat the runniness of the dish and the sharp taste of the cheese gave it an almost sour taste with none of the melted, creamy deliciousness.

Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese

The meat dishes fared better, with the scrumptious, finger-licking Chicken Wings with chili, honey, garlic and ranch disappearing as quickly as they arrived. Stone Nullah’s version of the Filipino Pork Sisig- the Pig’s Foot and Ear Sizzling Sisig, was crunchy , the calamansi lending it flavour with its delicate, sour edge.

Chicken Wings

Chicken Wings

Pig’s Foot and Ear Sizzling Sisig

Pig’s Foot and Ear Sizzling Sisig

The Crispy Pig’s Head with lobster salad and chili citronette was rather lovely with a textural contrast between the battered, succulent pig’s head and the salad. Too much citronette was added but our group approved of the dish overall. The ‘Chicken-Fried’ Tenderloin which is in fact tender rare beef within the batter, was comforting and evoked noises of approval.

Crispy Pig’s Head

Crispy Pig’s Head

‘Chicken-Fried’ Tenderloin

‘Chicken-Fried’ Tenderloin

To end we had the desserts which were the highlights of the night. Their famed Fat Kid Cake confused us at first as it is served with a lit candle, and we thought they had mistakenly brought a birthday slice. Unfortunately, the candle kept blowing out (amber rainstorm + candle do not mix!) despite the valiant efforts of the waitress to relight it. Four cakes in one is rather dangerous and I certainly felt my stomach heave in protest against the sinful combination of red velvet, cheesecake, creme brulee and chocolate mousse.

Fat Kid Cake

Fat Kid Cake

However, the Ovaltine Ice Cream with bruleed banana, chocolate cremoso, peanut butter fudge and cereal crunch was a piece of artwork and textures played an important part in keeping our palates amused. The ice-cream was divine, the bruleed banana perfectly done and the fudge added a sweeter note to the dessert.

Ovaltine Ice cream

Ovaltine Ice cream

Service and puddings are the two aspects that Stone Nullah should be proud of, but overall, at nearly $400 per person for 6 dishes (of not overly huge proportions), between four people, it seems a little steep. The menu, dominated by fried, rich dishes, will induce thirst, so make sure you have a glass of water handy.

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5 

$$$$$$$$$$

Stone Nullah Tavern, G/F, 69 Stone Nullah Ln, Wan Chai; 3182 0128


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Californication- wines and small bites at Brim 28

California Vintage on Wyndham Street is a tiny, tiny drinking hole that tries its best to be a restaurant as well, but in reality, its diminutive size does not really allow it to be the fully-fledged eatery that it yearns to be. Be that as it may, I do love going there for a spot of Riesling, but I never linger long enough to have a substantial meal. However, since the fantastic renovation and transformation of the space near the Great Eagle Centre and China Resource Building in Wan Chai (by Victoria Harbour) into Brim 28, a number of restaurants, bars and cafes, including a brand new branch of California Vintage, have moved in, making that area a pretty funky, new hang-out.

The second CV wine bar and restaurant is MUCH bigger and here, the emphasis is definitely on making sure the food does not play second fiddle to the wine and has more of a equal partnership on the palates of its customers. Of course, it remains a place for wine enthusiasts- there are still the smartcard-enabled dispensing machines to go nuts over at Happy Hour and clever iPad menus to help customers choose their wines. The concept of CV is to introduce Hong Kongers to the wine culture and the taste of California and their wine list boasts a fine selection of over 100 wines produced by 22 family-owned wineries across the Californian state. The wines themselves are for retail sale, but if you are popping by for a quick sip or three, you can dispense yourself some wine by the taste (1oz), the half-glass (2oz), full-glass (5oz) or  just buy a bottle.

Image from winetimeshk.blogspot.com

Image from winetimeshk.blogspot.com

A group of friends (a couple of whom who hail from/ lived in California- we needed Cali tastebuds!) and I went round last Saturday evening for what became a very relaxing meal of small bites paired with wine. The construction of Brim 28 means that each of the restaurants has an al fresco dining space outside the  establishment, which makes the new CV even more appealing than the ‘flagship’ in Central. Inside, there are high tables surrounded by emptied wooden wine barrels, a display of wine bottles and the dispensing machines taking centre-stage. There’s also a lovely fresh seafood bar area that is slightly elevated and off to the left-side of the restaurant.

Wine bottles have multiple uses!

Wine bottles have multiple uses!

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We were having their Seasonal pairing menu that night (which feature wine-inspired Californian cuisine) and our first dish was the deep-fried calamari with a tangy tomato dip. Frankly, it is quite hard to go wrong with deep-fried calamari unless it’s caked in batter (which this wasn’t), soaked in oil (which it also wasn’t) and not fresh (this wasn’t.. you get the idea). I was starving and also in much need of a glass of wine after a rather trying day at work, on a Saturday, ugh, so I positively beamed with delight at the first glass of wine that appeared- the 2011 Ferrari Carano Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma County. This crisp white had pleasantly fruity notes with a refreshing finish and paired well with our starter dish.

Deep-fried calamari

Deep-fried calamari

Ferrari Carano Sauvignon Blanc

Ferrari Carano Sauvignon Blanc

My favourite ‘dish’ of the night were CV’s Gilroy garlic fries with homemade aioli and tomato ketchup. OMG those fries are good. I had them in the original CV many moons ago, and it was love at first bite and I knew I had to stay away to save my waistline. But on Saturday, all diets were off as I chomped my way rather rapidly through them, and it was only when my friends shoved their cone of chips at me, that I realised I had had one golden stick too many. I’m easy to please, clearly!

Gilroy garlic fries

Gilroy garlic fries

The San Fran sourdough bread with Marin Camembert cheese and green apple, served with a side of sweet tomato soup for dipping was nicely toasted, though the cheese could have done with a few seconds more under the grill to attain perfect meltiness. The Camembert itself was a little too mild, and the green apple did not have the acidity to make this a completely balanced dish, though dipped in the tomato soup, it was still very tasty. My friend and I tried to drink the soup on its own, but it was far too sweet- strictly for dipping only!

San Fran sourdough bread with Camembert cheese and green apple

San Fran sourdough bread with Camembert cheese and green apple

Next, were the California sliders with fried soft-shell crab. I love soft-shell crab and these mini burgers were rather sweet, with the crab legs sticking out awkwardly like they were attempting to escape. The crab was slightly bland on its own, but dipping it into the homemade chipotle aioli made all the difference. I would have liked the battered crab to be more heavily seasoned with salt and pepper, but that is just personal preference.

California sliders with soft shell crab and chipotle aioli

California sliders with soft shell crab and chipotle aioli

Served alongside these dishes was the white Flying Nymph 2010 Paso Robles. This blend of 56% Viognier, 32% Marsanne and 12% Roussanne may be too sweet for some, but I enjoyed it immensely. The fruity flavours emerged after a while in the glass and the taste lingered long enough to give a nice end to our second round of dishes.

Our third round of dishes began with the California Tacos with Baja Fish. Here, the white fish were battered and served on shredded cabbage and topped with pico de gallo and cumin-enriched sour cream. The California taste-buds may like it mild, but these tacos were far too meek in taste and could have done with some punchier, more robust flavours. Not entirely sure what was missing from this recipe.. perhaps some Tabasco sauce would give it a kick.

California tacos with Baja fish

California tacos with Baja fish

The Marin Camembert and mushroom bruschetta topped with a walnut, was a simple dish but a far more flavoursome combination than the tacos. For some reason, the camembert here worked better, perhaps there’s just too much bread in the previous sourdough sandwich to give the cheese justice. Our wine for this round was the Anaba Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, a fairly intense red with a smokiness that was not entirely to my liking. We also had the pork quesadillas made by shredding pork and combining it with green chillies and melted jack cheese.  The house-made guacamole was very sweet and resulted in a few grumblings at our table.

Marin Camembert and mushroom bruschetta

Marin Camembert and mushroom bruschetta

Wine wine wine

Wine wine wine

Pork quesadillas

Pork quesadillas

Our last round of savouries came with a glass of Stuhlmuller Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon- California Sliders with Angus Beef Burger and Bravo Farms Cheddar Cheese and the California Tacos with Grilled Flank Steak and Chimichurri Sauce Steak. The juicy Angus Beef burger sliders were the best dish of the night together with those addictive fries! The soft corn tortillas topped with Harris Ranch flank steak were fine but again, something was missing with the flavours.

California sliders with Angus beef

California sliders with Angus beef

California tacos with grilled flank steak

California tacos with grilled flank steak

Their house-made taco chips with salsa were excellent and I have to say, as carb-heavy as CV’s menu is, they do excel at the fries and the chips. Perhaps a few more salads or some Californian-taste inspired ceviche would be good additions to the menu to balance it out.

A meal is not complete without dessert. The manager suggested we just have the Chocolate Pot de Crème- a gorgeous, smooth chocolate pudding generously topped with whipped cream, but at the mention of a new dessert- apple tart with vanilla ice-cream, there was no way I was leaving CV without sampling some of that. Of course, that just meant that we had both puddings, each of us having our own pot de crème and then sharing two plates of apple tart.

Apple tart!!!

Apple tart!!!

Pot de Creme

Pot de Creme

 The pot de creme was extremely rich and gave me a massive chocolate and sugar high. I have had this before at the flagship and as delightfully satisfying as it was, after four or five bites, it was too much. However, the apple tart was divine and demolished within minutes by our group. It was beyond yummy, the pieces of apple nice and chunky and the all important pastry was perfectly crumbly and not too thick. I am an apple crumble/ tart fiend and this was one of the best apple tarts I have had in HK. I only hope the preparation stays consistent, when I return, or I will be most disappointed. They served our desserts with a glass of R & B Cellars Fortissimo Port Dessert Wine which I did not care much for; it was far too strong and medicinal in taste, so I abandoned my glass and opted for a glass of Moscato mmmmmm.

So what did I think? California Vintage Wan Chai has a great location and the space is fantastic. Their Happy Hour is a good deal, (I can’t quite remember the details, sorry! But I know I will definitely be heading there for a glass), but with their dishes priced between $68 (for their fries) to $148, for relatively small bites, it is on the slightly expensive end for what it is. I have no idea what ‘the taste of California’ should taste like, but I was assured by the Cali lot that the menu can afford a few tweaks here and there.

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

$$-$$$$$$$$$

California Vintage, Shop 110, Brim 28, 28 Harbour Road, Wan Chai Tel: (852) 2511 4028

Set lunch is $88-$128 + service charge depending on what you order for mains.


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Burgers and Milkshake Coma in Causeway Bay

Whilst burgers are nothing unique in this town, BLT Burger’s latest location in the basement of Time Square is an exciting addition to the area, not least because Causeway Bay folks now get to fully satisfy their burger and milkshake cravings with their hearty offerings. Both Chef Laurent Tourondel’s other restaurants in HK – the modern American steakhouse BLT Steak and its sister BLT Burger – are located in Tsim Sha Tsui’s Harbour City mall, so it’s good for the Island to get a bit of BLT action at last!blt-burger-causeway-bay-hk-dcg

The memory of what occupied its space in Times Square previously eludes me, but I can attest that BLT is the much better option. It’s a great spot for lunch and feels a tad more spacious than their Harbour City branch too – and who can resist their crowd-pleasing menu of Angus beef burgers, as well as other tasty alternatives such as the turkey breast, fried chicken and Atlantic salmon? There’s also a whole menu of wonderfully cheeky ‘spiked milkshakes’, which should be drunk strictly during their Happy Hour!Interior of BLT Burger

I was glad I skipped breakfast the day Rach and I went, because the aftermath was a big-time food coma. We began cautiously, each requesting a mini version of one of their (non-spiked!) milkshakes. I went for the Monkey Business – a lethally filling (even in its miniscule form) but gorgeously rich chocolate ice cream, peanut butter and banana concoction. I loved the blend of the peanut butter and the chocolate, which didn’t dilute the taste of the banana, but avoid the generous topping of cream if you want to walk and not roll out of BLT!

Monkey Business Milkshake is coma inducing!

Monkey Business Milkshake is coma inducing!

Next, I attacked my Roaring Forties Blue burger (a 7oz grilled CAB burger with blue cheese, bacon, caramelized onions and mushrooms) whilst Rach had the blackboard offering of ‘HK Side’ Shrimp burger. If one’s eyes could have an appetite, they would be full just from the sight of this burger! The beef patty was thick and juicy but didn’t have enough meaty flavour to it, but the bacon evened out the score, coupled with the great taste of blue cheese and the sweetness of the onions and mushrooms.

Roaring Forties Blue burger

Roaring Forties Blue burger

Rach’s shrimp burger topped with watercress and fried wonton was an interesting and light twist on the seafood burger, with the Sriracha honey mayo giving the patty a much-needed lift in flavour.

Shrimp Burger

Shrimp Burger

Aside from burgers, BLT have a good selection of sides too; we decided to try their Vidalia onion rings and the bacon chilli cheese fries from the all-day blackboard specials menu. The onion rings had too thick a coating of batter and were slightly over deep-fried for my taste, which was a shame; I had to fight through the wall of batter to really taste and get to the onion itself. But the chilli cheese fries did not disappoint! A meal in itself, the cheese was gorgeously gooey and creamy with a hint of piquancy, and the fried onions and bacon on top added an extra good dose of crispiness too.

Vidalia onion rings

Vidalia onion rings

Bacon chilli cheese fries

By the time we’d heroically chomped our way through the fries and burgers, it was time to squeeze in a bit of dessert. Rach’s penchant for chocolate meant that the Valrhona chocoate praline cake couldn’t be missed. The layered cake was rich and moist (a little too rich perhaps), the chocolate nuttiness pairing nicely with the vanilla ice cream. This is definitely the dessert for chocolate lovers.

Valrhona chocoate praline cake

Valrhona chocoate praline cake

Service is efficient and their premises are casual, convenient and comfortable for laid-back Happy Hour drinks and leisurely grazing over your burger feast. I’ll be back there soon to check out their spiked milkshakes!

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

BLT Burger, Shop B224A, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 2506 1500; Shop 301, Level 3, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 2730 2338

You can also see this review on Sassy.


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Linguini Genie

No frills, no fuss, just good food. Sometimes that’s all I want. Should be easy enough to get, one would think?

Perhaps it’s just me, but lately I find that restaurants are pulling out all the stops to impress with their fancy but pricey menus and dishes with convoluted names and intricate presentations, when half the time, I’m only interested in how the grub tastes.

How difficult can it be to get simple, hearty food (aside from my mum’s homemade cooking)? The answer: pretty hard. Apart from cha chaan tengs, and little cafes, most restaurants in Hong Kong seem to have problems mastering simplicity itself. So it’s a breath of fresh air that Linguini Fini has come onto the scene with its delicious and affordable nose-to-tail pork dishes and fresh home-made pastas. The group that brought us Posto Pubblico has got a winner on their hands with a casual eatery that is completely focused on the quality and taste of the food without the pretension. It’s refreshing that it’s all about the nosh and isn’t meant to be a sophisticated experience.The interior is an artistic reflection of the food- modern, simple and hip with a local twist. The street artist group Start from Zero, has an original piece adorning the walls of a space that resonates with the vibe of a downtown New York loft. I like that their kitchen, pasta and salumi-making areas are open for diners to see, which gives a relaxed and fun ambience.I’m convinced Executive Chef and native New-Yorker Vinny Lauria created the menu just for me, because it just about has everything I love about Italian food on it and more. He uses every part of the pig from nose-to-tail, all the pastas are freshly made twice a day and there’s in-house curing of meats and sausages. His interpretation of Italian classics with locally-infused flavours is original and down-right tasty.To start you can choose from the flatbread selection or their salumi. I had the fantastic House cured lingua, which had a light dressing and raw red onions, followed by the utterly sublime Straccetti di Manzo from the antipasti section. Even if you’re not a rare beef person, I encourage you to try this dish as it really was mouth-wateringly delicious. I’ll definitely be ordering this repeatedly in the future as I adore artichokes, beef, gorgonzola and anchovies…. All which happen to be in this one dish. Hooray!The pigs, from which the nose-to-tail menu relies upon, are hormone-free from Bath but reared in Hong Kong. Only a few ingredients are imported- the beef and salmon hail from Australia and the sea-salt from Essex, but otherwise everything else is locally sourced.

I had to have the Rotisserie Porchetta- pork belly with chili mostarda. I adored the crunchy pork crackling and the meat itself was juicy and tender, the mostarda a piquant complement to the fattiness. The pork belly was chopped up and presented on bread, but personally I could’ve done without the carbs, although it did soak up the lovely pork juices.There’s a huge variety of pastas to choose from- 18 to be exact but it’s the signature pastas that really stand out as Chef Lauria has cleverly blended local flavours into the pasta, for example, salted egg, dried shrimp and fragrant grass.

I had the delectable dried shrimp pasta which smelt just like XO sauce and had a great spicy kick to it. It was pretty perfect to be honest.The Fazzoletti nose-to-tail bolo, with a three-meat ragu- pork, oxtail and veal was also excellent, with a good balance of meat sauce to lovely wide-sheets of al-dente pasta.To end my lunch, I had the lemon olive oil cake with poppy seed gelato and the tiramisu.

The home-made gelato and desserts are all meticulously prepared by pastry chef Jack Chua. The lemon olive oil cake is probably the unsung hero of the menu, being overlooked for regular Italian classics like Panna cotta and tiramisu. The whole ensemble is impeccable, from the silky lightness of the gelato to the lemon zestiness of the cake.Chef Chua’s take on tiramisu is innovative, and doesn’t resemble the classic dessert as we know it. The tiramisu is deconstructed with a frozen chocolate tiramisu gelato atop a coffee cake crumble with mascarpone cream. Large mouthfuls are hugely satisfying, with the chocolate-tiramisu flavoured gelato smoothly giving way to the stronger coffee taste in the crumble.I was impressed by the entire package of Linguini Fini. The quality of the food is exemplary and at such reasonable prices, (the most expensive dish is $168), it’s no wonder that it’s doing a roaring trade so early in its infancy. The one thing I have to complain about is their no-reservations policy, but as they say, something’s gotta give.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

Linguini Fini, 1/F, The L Place, 139 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong. Tel: 2857 1333

You can also read this review on Sassy Hong Kong.

[Many thanks to IHM Marketing for the professional pics you can see!]


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Meat Meat Meat…

I’ve always been quite an observant person but to have let Westwood Carvery pass me by for the last 7 months is slightly ridiculous, seeing as I do saunter through LKF and past Wo On Lane on a regular basis. I finally found out about it through Facebook (ah the wonders of social networking), when a friend of mine started posting photos of his extra large prime rib sandwich from there and complaining about meat sweats.It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a carnivore, so I was determined to get myself down to this place as quickly as possible and show off my eating prowess (I like to challenge myself). My friend and I went for lunch and the first thing we noted was the cool and chic interior. It’s small but they have made good use of the space with their minimalistic decoration- grey slate tables and a clever looking wooden wine-rack wall acting as a centre piece. The menu is limited, but their set lunch starting from $98 to $148, comprises of a soup of the day to start, followed by a choice of either their signature prime rib sandwich with fries, pasta or fish. Coffee and tea is served at the end and for an extra $20, you can have a dessert- good value!

On the a la carte, they have salads, pastas, their prime rib sandwiches, pork ribs and a few side dishes on offer. But it is their roasted prime rib sandwich that is the star of the Westwood Carvery and the whole point of their name.

It comes in two sizes: regular ($78) or Westwood size ($98). For comparison’s sake, this would be akin to a regular sized box of Kleenex tissues versus Kleenex tissue for men! The sandwiches are served au jus with fries, a ramekin of horseradish sauce and an apple on the side to trick you into thinking you’re being healthy. The regular size is for sensible people, the Westwood for the greedy, gluttonous, brave and bold types like myself, who enjoy self-competition. I did check with the friendly manager first if I could manage, and she said she eats a lot and can cope, so I took that as a sign that I could too!

My friend was being dainty and lady-like so opted for the regular with an extra helping of fried onions while I rubbed my hands in anticipation for my Westwood sandwich.

It did not disappoint. My sandwich was huge and I was a happy bunny. The men at the table next to me looked on in disgust as I merrily dunked my sandwich in the jus, smothered each mouthful with horseradish sauce and tomato ketchup and crammed it into my mouth. Tender slices of beef on soft yet crusty bread drenched in gravy- what’s not to love? In 20 minutes, it was all gone, including the apple. A clean plate and I still had room for a coffee. Piece of cake. Bliss for the foodie.

Chopstixfix rating: Can’t comment on the rest of the menu but the sandwich-  4/5

Westwood Carvery, G/F, 2 Wo On Lane, Lan Kwai Fong, Central. Tel: 2869 8111

$-$$$$$$$$$$

You can also see my review on Sassy Hong Kong


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That’s one big pizza slice…

How do actors in American films make eating pizza look SO mouthwatering?! Every single time I see someone stuffing one of those American style slices into their mouth, I salivate like a dog looking at bone. Darn those acting skills!

Having been in HK for little over a year, I was pretty crestfallen to notice no decent pizzerias. I mean, Pizza Express and the other Italian eateries are fine, but eating pizza should be a messy, sloppy, with melted gooey cheese going all over the place affair not a “sit at a table primly cutting up your pizza elegantly” undertaking. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out from my friend D that an American/ NY style pizzeria had opened on Lyndhurst Terrace in Central. Apparently, there has been a branch in Sai Kung for a while, but let’s face it, no one is going to trot all the way up there just for 1 slice. (Or you might, if you were really having withdrawal symptoms….or just desperate).I’m NOT that desperate, but I was looking forward to getting my chops on a “slice”. And what a slice it was. At Paisano’s you can order a whole pizza, either 14″, 16″ or a whopping 24″ to share or you can ask for a giant pizza slice. A slice that’s bigger than your face and then some.

We quickly bagsied ourselves seats in their functional dining area downstairs and after recovering from my initial shock at seeing the sheer enormity of the slices, I ordered myself one of the “Paisano’s pizza”- sausage, pepperoni, mushroom, black olives, onions and homemade pizza sauce. The slice could’ve done with being in the oven for a bit longer, but being the voracious eater that I am, I merrily shoved it in my mouth, not caring about the cheese going all over my face and hands. Yes, I am a slob. D meanwhile was eagerly sprinkling extra parmesan cheese on top of her pepperoni slice and then wolfed hers down with glee.Our thoughts? Satisfying, filling and decent enough. It’s not about the size or the quality, so much as the fact that there IS a quick stop pizzeria where you can get a slice, without having to order a whole pizza on your own. Sometimes a Mcdonald’s or a kebab just doesn’t cut it when you want fast food and Paisano’s more than fills that void. A thumbs up for the pizza of epic proportions 🙂

Next time: their sub sandwiches, lasagna and their calzone!! (Not all in one sitting of course! Doh.)

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

Paisano’s Central, 9 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central. Tel: 2544 4445 Open till 11pm weekdays and 1am weekends/ Paisano’s Sai Kung, G/F, Shop 27, Chan Man Street. Tel: 2791 4445

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