Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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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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Lunch in Chocolate Hévin

I am a chocolate window shopper. I let my eyes lovingly take in pretty displays of truffles, pralines and cocoa balls, and drink in my calories that way! Jean-Paul Hévin is one such chocolatier whose window-front on Lyndhurst Terrace is a visual pleasure whenever I walk past. Although I count myself lucky that I am not a chocolate junkie like Rach, I have demolished their chocolates before with gusto – I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there are more than just these delicacies on offer.

Jean-Paul Hévin chocolate cake!

Jean-Paul Hévin chocolate cake!

Who would have thought that behind those rows of tasty treats, there is also a proper feast to be had? Aside from Jean-Paul Hévin’s chocolates, or ‘black pearls’ as he calls them (as each piece is created from the highest-quality ingredients), the ‘Boutique et Bar à Chocolat’ has now launched a two-course set lunch. The set lunch comprises a soup or salad plus a main course of the day (which alternates between fish, meat and vegetarian pasta or risotto dishes) for a very reasonably priced $108 – and if you need to end on a sweet note, you can indulge in a slice of one of Jean-Paul Hévin’s six signature chocolate cakes for an additional $40.

When Rach and I stepped into the chocolate zone, our noses were immediately assailed by delicious wafts of cocoa – and sadly, our ears were also assaulted by the grating construction noises out on Lyndhurst Terrace! With our seats by the window (and outside din notwithstanding), the environment was relaxing and the meal quite delicious, making it a nice little spot for your lunch break if you work nearby.Jean-Paul Hevin Chocolatier - Lyndhurst Terrace - Second Floor 2

With a choice of either the green pea soup or celeriac remoulade to start, Rach and I decided to get one of each so we could try a bit of both (sharing is caring, after all!). The celeriac remoulade, a lovely mildly piquant celeriac mash, was a scrumptious start to the lunch, going well with the green apple and Parma ham. Rach’s green pea soup was creamy and satisfying but importantly not overly heavy, paving the way for our mains.

Celeriac remoulade

Celeriac remoulade

Green pea soup

Green pea soup

For mains that day, there was a sweetcorn risotto, a garlic herb roasted chicken thigh and a crispy sole fillet on offer. The meat and fish dishes were calling to us, with Rach going for the sole fillet, while I opted for the chicken.

It wasn’t that I necessarily went to Jean-Paul Hévin with low expectations, but as their forte is clearly chocolate, I did wonder how their savoury offerings would fare. After the starters, I was looking forward to the mains, and I was quietly impressed. My garlic roasted chicken was excellent – the meat succulent and the skin nice and crispy. The accompanying soft polenta and mushroom ratatouille was also good and I cleaned my plate with relish. Rach’s sole fillet was pleasing to the eye and equally well executed, with a delightful lemon chilli remoulade to give the fillet a bit of zest. The accompanying buttered new potatoes were also a hit.

Garlic-roasted chicken

Garlic-roasted chicken

Sole fillet

Sole fillet

But one cannot leave a chocolatier without some chocolate, so Rach and I each ordered their signature ‘Chocolat chaud Parisien’, classic Parisien hot chocolate made using cocoa from Central America. I loved it – a happy medium of rich but not sickening, sweet but with the perfect amount of cocoa to prevent it from being just a cup of melted chocolate. The cocoa really shone through and I was surprised that I could actually detect some of the spicy tones alluded to on the menu.

Chocolat chaud Parisien

Chocolat chaud Parisien

The ultimate sweet ending was our gâteaux au chocolat, and at an additional $40 to your set-lunch, it’s a very good deal indeed, especially if you are a chocoholic. I adore praline chocolate so I immediately jumped to attention when I saw their hazelnut Quinola Gâteaux, whilst Rach went for the classic Guayaquil, a densely layered chocolate almond dream.

Guayaquil gateaux

Guayaquil gateaux

I was an utter glutton and finished the lot. My Quinola was divine and I could easily become a total chocoholic if I were to live or work anywhere near Jean-Paul Hévin!

I was pleasantly surprised by Jean-Paul Hévin’s set lunch and I am glad to see that they have made the leap from patisserie and chocolatier to small restaurant. Their dishes were well prepared, very enjoyable and at $108 for two-courses, extremely reasonable for the standard. Jean-Paul Hévin already makes for a sweet addition to Lyndhurst Terrace, but their lunch offerings ensure that they’re more than just a candy-coated shop front.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5 (That chocolate gateaux completely won me over)

The set lunch costs $108 (with an additional $40 for dessert) and is served Monday-Friday, 12-2pm.

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

Jean-Paul Hévin Boutique and Chocolate Bar, No. 13, Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong, 2851 0633

www.jphevin.com.hk

You can also read this review on Sassy.