Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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A little bit of this and that at Papi

I like Civic Square at Elements, Kowloon. The space is attractive, the feel and ambience reminiscent of places you’d find in Europe. It’s a shame I don’t get much of a chance to go, (this is mostly due to laziness on mine and my friends’ part… it’s just a little too far from our usual haunts!), but it has a couple of promising eateries.

One of them is Papi, a traditional Italian Cicchetti (small-plate restaurant) that serves up small bites as well as pasta and pizzas. Papi is a cute amalgamation of Pasta and Pizza, deriving its concept from the small snacks or side dishes that are typically served in Venice. The idea of sharing plates has been a popular one in Hong Kong of late (hello dozens of new tapas restaurants!), and it certainly gives everyone a chance to be even more sociable over a meal and indulge in multiple dishes without the quantity.Papi

Papi is small but uncluttered, the light wooden flooring and bright lights giving it an open yet comfortable feel, which combines nicely with the al fresco dining area. It’s casual and completely without airs and graces. Side blackboards display a few drink specials, one of which was a refreshing ginger lemon and honey tea, a tall cool drink that quenched my thirst and left me feeling invigorated, ready for the feast ahead!

Blackboard showing drinks specials

Blackboard showing daily specials

We began with a selection of small plates. First up was the lovely sliced raw swordfish with cherry tomatoes and asparagus. The swordfish was amazingly fresh and so finely sliced that it melted in the mouth. The homemade pork meatballs with fennel seeds and tomato sauce were delicious; the sauce outshone the meat itself with its delicate salty tang emerging through the boisterous tomato flavour.

Sliced raw swordfish with cherry tomatoes and asparagus

Sliced raw swordfish with cherry tomatoes and asparagus

Homemade pork meatballs with fennel seeds and tomato sauce

Homemade pork meatballs with fennel seeds and tomato sauce

The deep-fried mixed mushrooms and the fresh burrata cheese with cherry tomatoes were hands down the best of the small bites. Frankly, I was surprised by my enthusiasm for the mushrooms, as it’s a) not meat b) not a dish I would usually pay attention to, but the light batter encasing the perfectly seasoned mushrooms was a winning formula. Rach and I were addicted to the burrata cheese, which was wonderfully fresh, creamy and soft. I smiled with immense satisfaction as I then proceeded to smother my deep fried mushrooms with burrata cheese – double win!

Deep-fried mixed mushrooms

Deep-fried mixed mushrooms

Fresh burrata cheese with cherry tomatoes

Fresh burrata cheese with cherry tomatoes

Our two mains were also scrumptious. We had the Papi’s Pici, a hand-made Tuscan pasta with spicy tomato sauce and garlic chips. The sauce was stupendous and drenched the fat spaghetti which had a fantastic bite to it. I love garlic chips when they are fried nice and crisply and these did not disappoint, nor did they become soggy atop the pasta.

Papi’s Pici

Papi’s Pici

Something that I’ll definitely be going back for is the Pizza Lardo di Colonnata. This absolutely moreish thin crust pizza covered with Colonnata fatty ham, asparagus and Taleggio cheese was sinfully fatty. The perfect salty greasiness of the ham was gently offset by the asparagus which lightened the pizza and the cheese was gorgeously gooey. Never has lard been enjoyed so much on a pizza!

Pizza Lardo di Colonnata

Pizza Lardo di Colonnata

To end, we completely overindulged with three desserts – Papi’s tiramisu, the panna cotta with fresh wild berries and the Nonna chocolate cake with gelato. The tiramisu was lovely and light and the panna cotta was silky smooth thick and creamy, delighting our tastebuds with the accompanying fruit.

Papi’s tiramisu

Papi’s tiramisu

Panna cotta with fresh wild berries

Panna cotta with fresh wild berries

Nonna chocolate cake with gelato

Nonna chocolate cake with gelato

But our favourite was the chocolate cake with its rice crispy base, scattering of chocolate coated popping candy and amazing vanilla ice-cream. The mousse-like cake was especially enjoyable as it did not lose any of the chocolatey sumptuousness despite being so light and airy.

Papi, after a year of opening, seems to have settled into a comfortable rhythm of laidback dining with some quality offerings; expect to pay around $350 per person (depending on how greedy you are!). It’s a great venue to hang out with friends at any time of the day, whether it’s for a relaxing drink with friends over a few bites to eat, or a hearty dinner tucking into a pizza or pasta. Elements really isn’t that far away!

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

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Papi, Civic Square, 3/F Elements, MTR Kowloon Station, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2811 2681 www.papi-hk.com

You can also see this review on Sassy.

A couple of friends went to Papi recently and apparently the Pizza Lardo di Colonnata was not on the menu (?!) and the waiter had no idea what it was. ‘Tis a mystery, but I hope that it hasn’t disappeared from the menu completely as that would be a real shame.

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Elements is confusing..luckily there’s Udon

I don’t have the best sense of direction, but when someone creates a shopping mall like that of Elements in Kowloon, they’re really asking for it. Hundreds of shoppers walking around trying to navigate the Fire, Wood, Earth, Metal and Water zones, every part looking the same- it’s STRESSFUL. It shouldn’t be this hard to get my cup of coffee, but where is Starbucks? Your guess is as good as mine. You need a PhD to work out the floor plan.

Luckily for me, I know the location of exactly… 2 places. The 360 supermarket and Inaniwa Udon Nabe. The former because it’s big and it’s near the MTR, the latter, because it’s the only place that friends who work in ICC know how to get to. And also because it’s too much effort to retrain the brain to navigate to another part of Elements for food.

I know one should never judge a whole restaurant on the basis of one or two dishes, or one bowl of noodles. But I’m gonna judge. If the only place you can get to in Elements serves awful food, I would cry but fortunately, Inaniwa serves a cracking bowl of beef udon (eaten several times, never get bored) and my latest love is their tomato and pork bone hot soup with Japanese pork. Delicious. A large bowl with generous portions of meat and a fantastic flavoursome soup base. Slurp.They serve nabe, a Japanese version of steamboat. I’ve yet to try but I have several more bowls of the same udon to go through before I move onto the next dish on the menu. Their menu is well laid out and comprehensive with a good choice of nabe, udon- hot or cold, as well as appetisers and small dishes like grilled eggplant.

So if you’re an Udon fan, and can stomach the walk of eternity from Central station across to HK station to get to Elements, then stop by for some snacks at 360 (in case you get lost) and visit Inaniwa. You could probably nap there if you like, takes ages to find your way out again….it’s on the 2nd floor of the Fire zone.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5 (on just the 2 bowls of udon)

Inaniwa Udon Nabe Japanese Restaurant, Shop 2002, Fire Zone, Level 2, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, TST, Kowloon. Tel: 2196 8989

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