Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Gluttonous Food Porn at Doppio Zero

Oh what a night. Late June, back in ’14, what a very special night for me, as I remember, what a night. Doo-do-do-do-do… Ok, I’m not a wannabe lyricist trying to create my own version of December 1963 by The Four Seasons (classic song, by the way), but for some reason this song did pop into my head as I looked over my photos from a night of pure gorging at Doppio Zero for a Seasonal Menu Tasting. When I was invited, I thought back fondly to the first meal I had there, and wondered if some of my favourites would make an appearance, and yes sirree they did. But, this wasn’t just any ol’ gathering, we had a raucous night with some new and familiar faces and wine pairing to boot. And 16 dishes to get through, (14 if you don’t count the vegetables). I wish I had worn my stretchy pants.

I’m not going to really go into too much detail on this post, because frankly, I’ll get tired writing something about each dish, and you will get tired reading about them. Just take my word for it, the food is good. The execution of a lot of the dishes was spot on and I more than enjoyed every morsel. My favourites: Roasted Bone Marrow, Truffled Fried Oyster, Beetroot Ravioli, Lamb Short Ribs and the spectacular USDA Prime Ribeye. Feast for your eyes and your tum!

Heirloom Tomato Salad- all I can say is: great anchovies.

Heirloom Tomato Salad- all I can say is: great anchovies.

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Roasted Bone Marrow- this is a must-eat dish at Doppio Zero. Am also addicted to their balsamic onion jam. Rich, wobbly, soft and full of greasy goodness.

Roasted Bone Marrow- this is a must-eat dish at Doppio Zero. Am also addicted to their balsamic onion jam. Rich, wobbly, soft and full of greasy goodness.

Truffle Fried Oyster- no words. Loved this. Black truffle aioli atop a freshly and delicately fried oyster? Genius.

Truffle Fried Oyster- no words. Loved this. Black truffle aioli atop a freshly and delicately fried oyster? Genius.

Prosciutto Ball- ricotta, mozzarella, and pecorino with Honeydew melon sauce. The sauce was an interesting touch. Nice, crispy outside. A tasty morsel.

Prosciutto Ball- ricotta, mozzarella, and pecorino with Honeydew melon sauce. The sauce was an interesting touch. Nice, crispy outside. A tasty morsel.

Prime beef carpaccio- the combination of beef with sea urchin was quite good , but didn't wow as much as the other dishes.

Prime beef carpaccio- the combination of beef with sea urchin was quite good , but didn’t wow as much as the other dishes.

Sunny Side Up Duck Egg with crispy watercress, Thai asparagus, Bottarga and horseradish vinaigrette. This was a dream to look at and the egg was fabulous but I couldn't really detect the bottarga. The dish was delicious overall but I didn't think they needed to make the watercress crispy!

Sunny Side Up Duck Egg with crispy watercress, Thai asparagus, Bottarga and horseradish vinaigrette. This was a dream to look at and the egg was fabulous but I couldn’t really detect the bottarga. The dish was delicious overall but I didn’t think they needed to make the watercress crispy!

Beetroot Ravioli made with Gorgonzola, Italian butter and poppy seeds and Shrimp Ravioli made with chives, lemon zest and green peppercorn butter. Loved both of these but I absolutely fell in love with the Beetroot ravioli the first time I had it. Hard to describe quite how delicate the flavours are, yet how beautifully rich and sweet the beetroot is. 5 stars for that dish.

Beetroot Ravioli made with Gorgonzola, Italian butter and poppy seeds and Shrimp Ravioli made with chives, lemon zest and green peppercorn butter.
Loved both of these but I absolutely fell in love with the Beetroot ravioli the first time I had it. Hard to describe quite how delicate the flavours are, yet how beautifully rich and sweet the beetroot is. 5 stars for that dish.

Sea Urchin Chitarra- I've had this dish before but the Chitarra was surprisingly thick this time, a detail we all pointed out. Apparently they have just changed their chitarra pasta cutter, think they need to make some adjustments otherwise this was almost like an udon. Great dish for sea urchin and crab roe fans.

Sea Urchin Chitarra- I’ve had this dish before but the Chitarra was surprisingly thick this time, a detail we all pointed out. Apparently they have just changed their chitarra pasta cutter, think they need to make some adjustments otherwise this was almost like an udon. Great dish for sea urchin and crab roe fans.

Ricotta Gnocchi with red wine braised beef cheeks. The gnocchi was filled with salted duck egg which is always a winner, but as with most gnocchis, this was quite a heavy dish with the rich beef.

Ricotta Gnocchi with red wine braised beef cheeks. The gnocchi was filled with salted duck egg which is always a winner, but as with most gnocchis, this was quite a heavy dish with the rich beef.

New Zealand Lamb Short RIbs with grilled corn. Lamb is one of my favourite meats and this was cooked to perfection. Some found it a bit too 'lamby' but lamb lovers will think this is ace. The corn was mouthwateringly sweet.

New Zealand Lamb Short RIbs with grilled corn. Lamb is one of my favourite meats and this was cooked to perfection. Some found it a bit too ‘lamby’ but lamb lovers will think this is ace. The corn was mouthwateringly sweet.

Prime USDA Ribeye with Bone Marrow and Anchovy and Garlic Butter. This was just a ridiculous plate of ridiculous deliciousness. Too much umami for my brain to compute.

Prime USDA Ribeye with Bone Marrow and Anchovy and Garlic Butter. This was just a ridiculous plate of ridiculous deliciousness. Too much umami for my brain to compute.

Olive Oil Gelato Float with salted caramel cookie bar and Lambrusco Sparkling Red wine sauce. This was a little overwhelming for my taste-buds, probably because I poured too much Lambrusco onto my gelato, but I found the sauce a bit strong. The cookie bar was scrumptious though.

Olive Oil Gelato Float with salted caramel cookie bar and Lambrusco Sparkling Red wine sauce. This was a little overwhelming for my taste-buds, probably because I poured too much Lambrusco onto my gelato, but I found the sauce a bit strong. The cookie bar was scrumptious though.

Yin Yang Affogato with Milk Tea gelato, Espresso shot and Peanut Butter cookie. Another DIY dessert here. This was a wonderful sweet ending to the meal. I would like a whole packet of those peanut butter cookies please.

Yin Yang Affogato with Milk Tea gelato, Espresso shot and Peanut Butter cookie. Another DIY dessert here. This was a wonderful sweet ending to the meal. I would like a whole packet of those peanut butter cookies please.

Yin Yang Affogato

DIY dessert time!

So there it is, my entire meal in pictures, vegetable dishes excluded unfortunately (I can say that the Baked Brussel Sprouts and the Roasted Oyster Mushrooms were very good too, but when you are faced with Prime Ribeye, your attentions are more or less diverted).

If you haven’t yet been to Doppio Zero, I do recommend a visit one day soon. Atmosphere is suitable for low-key dates or bigger groups, and whilst it isn’t the cheapest meal (around $400-500 per person depending on how gluttonous you are!), I think the quality of the ingredients makes this place worth visiting. Especially for that Beetroot ravioli and Prime Ribeye.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

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Doppio Zero, G/F The Pemberton, 22 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2851 0682

This was by kind invitation. Many thanks to Coco Alexandra PR & Events and Doppio Zero. 

 

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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

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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

 

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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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Bravo Panino Giusto

Out of the sandwich offerings in Hong Kong, most are a bit meh sometimes, (interpret that word as you see fit 😛 ) except for Pret A Manger and possibly Oliver’s. And maybe a dirty Subway. But now there is Panino Giusto in IFC Mall which specialises in Milanese ‘sandwiches’- Panini.

Panino Giusto

Panino Giusto

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Panino Giusto

Panino Giusto

Established in 1979 in Milan before branching internationally, Panino Giusto brings us authentic, freshly-made panini, as well as toasties, plates of sliced meats, salads and desserts. You will not catch this store pre-making their panini and cling-wrapping them to go! They say the key to their success is their  “rule of 7”: 70 grams of freshly sliced meat, 70 grams of cheese, vegetables, sauces and oils, sandwiched between 70 grams of French bread. All ingredients are hand-picked from Italy and then Panino Giusto branded.

Location-wise, I love it. On the 3rd Podium level of IFC Mall, it has the benefits of the roof a few steps away, sunlight pouring through the glass windows and a pleasant seating area for a relaxed meal or coffee and dessert. It’s great to see their fridge of hanging meats taking centre stage at the front of their store, alongside a shiny red Berkel meat slicer. There’s something exciting about seeing big chunks of amazing hams and meats being sliced in front of you for your panini. Guaranteed freshness.IMG_8280 IMG_8276

My friend and I were given a voucher to try out a couple of their panini, one salad, a starter and a dessert when the shop first opened, although since then I have been back for more and I can tell you that the quality and my enjoyment has been consistent.

One of their must-have panini is their signature Tartufo, a delicious panino of Parma ham (24-month aged), Brie, tomato, rocket and Alba truffle oil. The rich scent of the truffle oil hits you when the warm panino arrives and I just loved the whole combination. I also quite enjoyed the fact that the Brie is not melted, just warmed by the toasted bread as it gave the panino added texture instead of being a warm, gooey mess. This has become my favourite at Panino Giusto whenever I go.

Tartufo

Tartufo

Another lovely panino is the Savoy with Praga ham, Mozzarella, tomato, rocket and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. All the flavours were quite mild but nevertheless, it makes for a lighter and less salty offering than the Tartufo.

We also tried their Stuzzico Crudo E Caprino starter dish of Parma ham, goat cheese and warm bread. I admit, we ignored the bread and the cheese in favour of stuffing ourselves with the moreish slices of Parma ham. At $88 for a plate, I have to say that it is worth it seeing as going to the deli counter at Taste or CitySuper for Parma is outrageously expensive for possibly around the same number of slices.

Stuzzico Crudo E Caprino

Stuzzico Crudo E Caprino

Their Pratomagno salad of Carpaccio, herbed artichokes and fresh Parmesan was also lovely. The beef was delicate yet full of ‘beef’ flavour and went well with the artichokes.

Pratomagno salad

Pratomagno salad

To end we had their house-made Tiramisu. Those of you who enjoy a heavier coffee taste may be disappointed with this but though creamier than other versions,  I thought it was rather scrumptious and not overly laced with rum.

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

Although most of the panini may be a little steep at $78 -88 each depending on ingredients, Panino Giusto is, I think, the place to go for a panini fix. There is a fine and quite large selection to choose from and you needn’t worry about not feeling satiated afterwards; they are filling enough to keep you going for the rest of the afternoon. The salads and starters are good but definitely not the main attraction.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

 

Panino Giusto, Shop No. 3077, Podium Level Three, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong. Opening times: 10:00-22:00 Tel: +852 2564 7000 http://www.paninogiusto.com.hk


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Starting 2014 with a bang Down Under

Better late than never- HAPPY NEW YEAR readers! Every year I’m astonished at how time flies and given that it is February already, I guess I really am in some sort of time warp. I have a bit of blogging catch-up to do but nothing keeps one more busy than travelling (wedding season!) coinciding with big holidays (Xmas, New Year, Chinese New Year). It must be a sign of old age when you and your friends constantly whinge about how the months are whipping by and how we “only just celebrated a New Year, how is it New Year AGAIN?” But this year the start of 2014 whilst low-key, was a little different- we were in Sydney to ring it in!

New Year in Sydney is all about the fireworks and we were fortunate to be at our friends’ place at Milson’s Point, a stone’s throw away from undoubtedly, one of the best spots to view the spectacular fireworks. I haven’t been fussed about fireworks for a few years and never really had the will to fight my way through the crowds in Hong Kong and freeze my butt off in London, but this time it had to be done. Our NYE dinner was a different experience too. Our friends had busted out the BBQ in true Aussie style and were producing all sorts of fare, including some highly addictive minced beef pies (courtesy of the oven not the BBQ pit, though that would have been REALLY impressive). Then, the time came for childlike wonderment. Cue an eighteen or so strong group of slightly inebriated friends stumbling over hill and over dale in Bradfield Park jostling with everyone to get a good spot. And I must say, I was quite enchanted by the fireworks. I’m afraid I don’t have any photos of the amazing BBQ spread, you will just have to take my word for it that our friend was quite masterful, even when drunk, but here are some photos of the fireworks captured on my humble phone. Sydney fireworks Sydney fireworks Sydney fireworks Sydney fireworks

To book dinners and lunches for a group of sixteen over several days was a bit of a nightmare, and I must say, aside from the exorbitant prices of some of our meals and some shockingly bad service, two meals stood out. One was a trip to the Sydney Fish Market and the other, to a lovely Italian restaurant in Surrey Hills.

Sydney Fish Market was just a glorious, roofed collection of retailers and restaurants housing the freshest array of seafood. To say that we gorged is a bit of an understatement. The raw seafood as well as the cooked was delicious. IMG_8670 IMG_8671 IMG_8672 IMG_8662 IMG_8663 IMG_8664 IMG_8665

Our exceptionally organised friend S, and Sydney Cordon Bleu alumni booked us lunch at a lovely Italian restaurant A Tavola, in Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, and on that day, the sun was shining, a fine breeze was blowing and we found ourselves hauling our asses up a fairly large hill to our destination. But it was worth the sweat. A Tavola was a fine example of how fresh pasta should be done; heartily, excellently and with gusto and no pretension. Simplicity at its best.

A Tavola

A Tavola

Our huge group sat at a long table and watched the chefs roll and shape fresh pasta next to us. The space is small but it was a hive of activity and the staff were smiley and friendly. We had a set menu of 3 Primi courses, 3 Secondi and 2 Salads to enjoy plus an additional dessert that we could not resist. Price point wise, the final bill was $94 AUS per person ($650HK).IMG_8552

Mesmorised by pasta

Mesmorised by pasta

Out of our Primi courses, I absolutely adored the Swiss brown mushrooms, peas, mint and ricotta salad and the fried Salami with polenta.

 Swiss brown mushrooms, peas, mint and ricotta salad

Swiss brown mushrooms, peas, mint and ricotta salad

Buffalo Mozzarella and proscuitto

Buffalo Mozzarella and proscuitto

Fried Salami Veneto

Fried Salami Veneto

The mains were beautiful but the Hand-cut pappardelle with slow braised beef in a red wine and horseradish reduction was the winner, although the pan-fried fish was also sublime.

Hand-cut pappardelle with slow braised beef

Hand-cut pappardelle with slow braised beef

Tagliatelle with cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil

Tagliatelle with cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil

Bonus pasta dish- can't remember what this was!

Bonus pasta dish- can’t remember what this was!

Pan fried market fish with dill mayonnaise, green olives and orange

Pan fried market fish with dill mayonnaise, green olives and orange

Chocolate ganache

Chocolate ganache

Oh, and the dessert? Even the most savoury of teeth would not be able to resist their Chocolate ganache with Amaretto biscuit concoction. My brain went into sugar overdrive when I tasted their homemade salt caramel ice-cream and torched meringue.

And so we left with blissful, satiated smiles and a leisurely walk back to the city centre with nothing but what was to be a gorgeous wedding and the Blue mountains to enjoy in the coming days.

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Chopstixfix rating: 4/5 

A Tavola, 348 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010. Tel: +61 02 9331 7871

Email: reservationsdarlinghurst@atavola.com.au Opening times: Dinner Mon-Sat 6pm-late, Lunch Friday 12pm- 3pm

Sydney Fish Market, Pyrmont Bridge Rd, Pyrmont NSW 2009, Australia


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Piccolo Pizzeria & Bar

Wan Chai is choc-a-bloc with a variety of tasty eateries lately, from the swanky to the modest and cool.

Piccolo Pizzeria and Bar is one of the latter, and after successful branches in Kennedy Town and Tai Hang, a third restaurant has now opened at Tai Wong East Street. If you enjoy their Roman-style pizzas and satisfying pastas, but found Tai Hang and Kennedy Town just that little bit too far to get to, then the Wan Chai is nicely in the middle to sort out your needs.

Homey and family-friendly were the two things that sprung to mind when I stepped foot inside one Saturday evening. The premises are thankfully larger than their Tai Hang branch which, despite my best efforts, I could never get a seat at. The word ‘friendly’ persists, with happy, helpful staff who showed me to my table and were just on the right end of chatty to talk me through the menu and their specials.

Piccolo Pizzeria

Piccolo Pizzeria

I had a good view of the restaurant, gazing up at their muted tin lights with different shaped tungsten filaments lining the centre of the ceiling and their open bar. 70s and 80s music washed over me, and I had to stop myself from showing my age and busting out some karaoke warblings to The Police and Spandau Ballet.

The menu does not try too hard with too many dishes or anything overly fancy. The focus is on the freshly-made pizzas and pastas with the addition of a daily special.

I started off with a basic Beetroot and Rocket salad, which was nicely dressed but could have done with a slightly more generous helping of beetroot to what was a forest of rocket on my plate.

Beetroot and Rocket salad

Beetroot and Rocket salad

I tried a small portion of the special that day which was an Italian seafood soup called Cioppino, with Red Snapper, squid, shrimp, clams and lobster. The shrimp were sweet, the broth full of flavour and quite clearly the result of a good amount of reduction with half the sea in it.

Seafood Cioppino

Seafood Cioppino

The staff recommended I have the Nduja de Calabria pasta with live prawns tossed with chilli. This was by far, the most delicious pasta I have had for a long time. The Nduja, which is the Calabrian version of salami, is spicy and typically used as a spread on breads or served with cheese. In this pasta dish, the chorizo-like piquant sausage lovingly coated the pasta and the prawns were so fresh and sweet, that I clean forgot I had pizzas to look forward to and tucked into this dish with gusto.

Nduja de Calabria pasta

Nduja de Calabria pasta

I was able to sample two of their pizzas- the signature Pizza Pancetta with bacon, tomato sauce and a soft egg and the bestselling Prosciutto di Parma with Parma ham and rocket. Both were excellent though I especially loved the Pizza Pancetta. The pizza bases were crispy and thin and the cheeses melted and bubbled to perfection. I stopped at two slices from each and excitedly asked to have the leftovers to take-away, a brilliant decision on my part as my lunch at home the next day was amazing. The Pizza Pancetta was, I think, even tastier and I had it cold. Not that I would encourage this, but I am definitely ordering this pizza again and saving some for leftovers.

Pizza Pancetta

Pizza Pancetta

Prosciutto di Parma

Prosciutto di Parma

Although I was on the verge of bursting, no meal would be complete without some dessert. I had to try the Tiramisu which was lovely and light and child-friendly. The portion is just enough to satisfy anyone’s craving for a sweet ending without being too cloying. The Panna cotta was smooth and full of vanilla pods which I love and I was pleased to note that it was not overly rich or sweet and the fruits were a refreshing complement.

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

Panna cotta

Panna cotta

I can see exactly why Piccolo Pizzeria is able to open a third branch. With reasonable prices (around $120-180 for mains) for hearty, unpretentious but well-executed food, it is somewhere that I know I will be finding my way back to for a tasty meal with solid service and a friendly atmosphere.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5


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Piccolo Pizzeria & Bar – Wan Chai, 22 Tai Wong East Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong. Reservations: 2824 3002

Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday: 12pm to 10pm; Friday to Sunday & Public Holidays: 12pm to 10:30pm

 This review was done on behalf of Sassy HK and can be read here.


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Enomod- Social Dining in HK

“Social dining” is a seemingly new term that has sprung up. This concept of eating to socialise and to connect with others should not be a novel philosophy in our society, given that social dining dates back to Ancient Greek times, but now, it has had a modern face-lift of sorts. Like anything in HK, once a concept has taken hold, it becomes the island’s obsession for a while and I can see that social dining will be two words bandied about for the next year by those who want to wax lyrical about dining values, connecting with food and the like. Frankly speaking, it is not much different from having dim sum with your family or sharing plates of tapas, but I suppose actually uttering the words “social dining” is meant to have some sort of profound effect on the way we approach eating with our nearest and dearest or even strangers. Anyway, before I get carried away with the philosophy of eating, (I am having one of those deep thinking days), I will cut to the chase and give my thoughts on new Mediterranean restaurant Enomod.Enomod

Dining area

Dining area

Enomod is the amalgamation of the words Enoteca Moderna, thus reflecting this idea of ‘connection’. Enoteca Moderna represents a form of social dining that emerged in 1930s America and this establishment seeks to blend all areas of wining and dining with several different zones. Taking over the sprawling space that Entourage once inhabited, a lounge area, communal dining tables, a bar, wine corner, charcuterie and cocktail lounge now take its place.

Charcuterie

Charcuterie

The areas are well put together, with plush, comfy chairs and hints of art deco in the lounge section, plain white chairs and dining tables in the social dining zone and darker, night-scene colours and lighting for the bar. The wine barrels in the ‘wine area’ give Enomod a sweet, Italian provincial feel, yet the overall artistry of the place has very much a Great Depression vibe, especially with the copper fixtures adding that little bit of extra character.

Wine area

Wine area

Bar area

Bar area

As it was a friend’s birthday, we decided that there was no better way of celebrating with pals than embracing the social dining concept of Enomod. So it was on a Saturday night that ten of us found ourselves occupying one of the communal tables and perusing the menu of Social Dining and Canteen Selection dishes. As a glutton who hangs with gluttons, it seemed sensible to order almost 80% of the menu and get two of each dish, just to make sure we had most of the bases covered. The Social Dining menu is split into Wood, Stone, Copper and Ceramics, denoting the material of the serving dishes onto which the food is served. We started with the Mezze Platter of crackers, eggplant and hummus dip from the Ceramic selection, which was served on a wooden paddle, (minor detail but get your materials correct!). The eggplant dip was slightly piquant but subtle and the hummus light. Nothing unique, but was a pleasant appetiser.

Mezze platter

Mezze platter

We ordered a daily special- the Balsamic beef stew which was tender and well marinated, though more sauce would have been great. The balsamic reduction was a nice balance of acid and sweet and our party were quite happy with our first shared plate.

Balsamic beef stew

Balsamic beef stew

Next up, the Roasted Seabass from the Stone section made an appearance and this was excellent. The fish was succulent and I loved the light seasoning and coating of the herbs which allowed the seabass flavours to shine through.

Roasted seabass

Roasted seabass

Our Citrus scented Crispy Prawns (Ceramics) were lacking the citrus edge I was looking for and the batter was slightly too thick. They were still appetising but somehow the accompanying mayonnaise was the bit I was more interested in as I ended up with more mayo per bite of prawn.

Citrus scented crispy prawns

Citrus scented crispy prawns

The zucchini, fig and haloumi rolls with Sicilian caponata (a traditional aubergine stew) was absolutely delish, not least because I have not had haloumi in yonks, apart from one night out many moons ago when a couple of us visited Beyrouth Cafe and had haloumi kebabs. The saltiness of the cheese was a delectable complement to the sour-sweetness of the caponata.

Zucchini, fig and haloumi rolls with Sicilian caponata

Zucchini, fig and haloumi rolls with Sicilian caponata

The highlight of the menu was the 6 hour lamb rump with pistachio crust. The lamb was moist and that perfect pink in colour and I loved the textural dimension that the pistachio crust gave. The cheesy wafers were a hit too, shame there were not more!

6 hour lamb rump with pistachio crust

6 hour lamb rump with pistachio crust

It was following this dish that a few of the next offerings became less impressive. The Cinnamon beef tenderloin tips were tasty enough but nowhere near as tender as the balsamic beef stew. The Couscous Bouillabaisse was flavourful, the squid, fish and clams were fresh but I would have enjoyed a tad more bouillabaisse broth over the couscous. The worst dish of the night were the Blue Mussels with white wine sauce which, much to our chagrin, were not fresh. I have not had much luck with mussels of late, and it was really disappointing to find that our bowl of molluscs had gone bad. I managed two, a few friends had a couple each, and we unanimously agreed that we needed to give up on the mussels. The white wine sauce was however, quite flavoursome.

Cinnamon beef tenderloin tips

Cinnamon beef tenderloin tips

Couscous Bouillabaisse

Couscous Bouillabaisse

Blue Mussels

Blue Mussels

We tried two of their pastas- the Penne with Chorizo and Cherry and orange zest, which was nicely al dente and fairly spicy (some may find it a little too fiery to appreciate the lovely citrus tang) and the Tagliatelle with Walnut Carbonara Sauce which was delicious but, as with all carbonaras, became too rich to fully appreciate, especially after all the above dishes.

Penne with Chorizo and Cherry and orange zest

Penne with Chorizo and Cherry and orange zest

Tagliatelle with Walnut Carbonara Sauce

Tagliatelle with Walnut Carbonara Sauce

Spanish Tortilla is my litmus test for any restaurant that offers it, as it is simple but seems strangely difficult to master as I have not had any tortillas that have really satisfied me in HK except for the ones at Fofo by el Willy and Tapeo. I am a little hard to please in this area as my various travels in Spain have given me a high benchmark to compare to but still, a girl can hope! Sadly, while Enomod’s fancy-looking Spanish tortilla was presented lovingly (I would prefer it if they just served Spanish tortilla in one dish rather than cutting it up!), the taste just was not there.

Spanish Tortilla

Unsurprisingly, their sauteed broccoli and pancetta side-dish was a complete hit with our table. Anything with bacon gets the thumbs-up from us!

Sauteed broccoli and pancetta

Sauteed broccoli and pancetta

Desserts were where Enomod became more interesting. We tried all of them- the Absinth Spicy Tiramisu, Ricotta Cheesecake with crushed pistachio and candied orange peel and the Pumpkin Crumble Godmother-Style with Amaretto Bisquiti.

Absinth Spicy Tiramisu

Absinth Spicy Tiramisu

Ricotta cheesecake

Ricotta cheesecake

The Absinth infused tiramisu definitely piqued my curiosity and we were all expecting it to pack a wallop but I was pleasantly surprised by the subtlety of the absinthe. The Ricotta cheesecake was my favourite. The cheesecake was light and nutty and the biscuit base and orange zest made it moreish. The pumpkin crumble can only be described as a scrumptious, adult version of baby food.

Pumpkin crumble

Pumpkin crumble

Dining at Enomod was an enjoyable experience and the birthday girl had fun. While the food was decent, I could not say that anything in particular wowed me for the price (it came to $480 per person including wine) and the mussels tainted the meal somewhat. We would have said something but we too far along the meal to make a fuss. However, as far as socialising is concerned, Enomod does its job but I think it could benefit from a warmer ambience in the dining area. The stark chairs and tables did nothing to generate a cosy atmosphere, but the absinthe tiramisu certainly left a warm feeling in my stomach.

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

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Enomod HK, 1/F, 1-5 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2555 6065, www.facebook.com/Enomod


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Italiano at DiVino Patio

Funky Brim 28 in Wan Chai, the recently renovated behemoth of alfresco space, is home to several bars and eateries including the new California Vintage (see the review here), Frites and Chez Patrick Deli. One restaurant that is doing relatively well is the DiVino Group’s DiVino Patio, (I tried really hard to come up with a pun-tastic title but could not think of anything to rhyme with ‘patio’- will do better next time!), a rustic rotisserie and pizzeria restaurant that serves up traditional Italian fare and lures customers with its comfortable outdoor dining area and the promise of capturing the ambiance of rural Italy. I initially paid a visit when it had newly opened its doors and I have been back since to re-sample some of the dishes I tried the first time round as well as trying a couple of other dishes, and I am quite pleased to report that their food has remained consistent, (an oddly difficult level to attain at most restaurants!) even if the service is a little patchy.

There is something about red brick walls and chalkboards that I find very appealing to the eye and although DiVino Patio’s attempt to create provincial Italy is a little on the pristine side, it does the trick. Meat slicers and exposed shelves lined with wine bottles add to the setting and booths and tables get a good view of the outside as well as the rotisserie that takes centre-stage.

DiVino Patio

DiVino Patio

Wine bottles as decoration are very useful!

Wine bottles as decoration are very useful!

The menu is fairly extensive with platters, antipasti, main courses from the grill and skillet, pastas and pizzas. Their sharing plates are particularly good, especially their monstrous 500 Grams Buffalo Burrata cheese- absolutely delish and the Salumeria of 5 types of cold cuts.

Salumeria of cold cuts

Salumeria of cold cuts

The Eggplant Parmigiana looked a little forlorn on the plate, and seemed as though it had been a tad overdone, but, the presentation was all that was lacking in this dish as the flavours were fantastic. The thickly cut eggplant, melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella and the lovely, rich tomato sauce all came together to make a highly satisfying antipasti dish.

Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmigiana

The main that followed- the Braised Wagyu Beef cheek with with beefsteak tomato risotto, was my favourite of the meal. The fun presentation of beef-jus and tomato infused risotto nestled in a beefsteak tomato meant that I was only too eager to tuck in and somewhat childishly destroy the carefully assembled dish. I loved the bite of the risotto; DiVino Patio successfully not over-cooking it to a soggy mess and the rich, succulent wagyu beef chunks dissolved divinely in the mouth.

Braised beef cheek with beefsteak tomato risotto

Braised beef cheek with beefsteak tomato risotto

The second main course was the Spit roasted Italian piglet “Porchetta” style served with potatoes and artichokes. While I love Porchetta, ESPECIALLY the crispy skin, (when its done right of course), this particular version fell flat, as I was mostly consuming fat. Obviously I have no real problem with eating fat. Fat tastes good. But a lot of fat, can be rather distracting and greasy when the meat should be prize. Perhaps our little piggy was a porker, but this dish would have been so much better if there was more meat to be had and the skin had a better crunch to it. The potatoes were ace though.Slow Roasted Porchetta

Another dish that I have tried is the large pappardelle with Tuscan wild boar ragout which was very good. The ragout may be a bit on the saltier side for some, but I felt the flavours came through well with the meatiness of the wild boar complementing the eggy homemade pappardelle. Definitely a go-to dish if indecision strikes.

A dessert that I sampled was the Trio of Chocolate- chocolate pudding in three ways, though I confess, I have absolutely no recollection of what exactly each way is, except for the melting chocolate pudding which, as it stands out in my memory, must have been the yummy one. In any case, I did not think that it was a stellar dessert offering, but it was still executed competently. Their chocolate biscotti however, was wonderfully crunchy and if I had a hot chocolate to hand I would have loved to have dunked it in. 

Trio of Chocolate

Trio of Chocolate

Chocolate biscotti

Chocolate biscotti

DiVino Patio is a fab place to go if you want the alfresco dining and fairly traditional Italian cuisine. But, with prices for all their dishes, including starters and antipasti, (salads discounted) hovering between $108 to $288, I find it on the steep side. For a decent meal of two courses plus drinks, you are looking at $400 per person minimum. Be that as it may, there are some solid dishes on the menu that I would eat again.

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

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Shop 11, 1/F, Causeway Centre, No. 28 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong Tel: 
2877 3552