Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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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.

IMG_8820

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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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

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

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


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Fuelling the Appetite at AMMO

It’s not often that a new restaurant finds a unique setting in Hong Kong. But new kid on the block AMMO has found a fiery site at the Asia Society Hong Kong Centre, formerly an explosives magazine compound created by the British Army in the mid-19th century.
Nestled against a bountiful backdrop of greenery and foliage, AMMO’s floor-to-ceiling glass construction looks like a very classy greenhouse with copper embellishments: spiral staircases cleverly suspended as chandeliers, a huge copper mural on the wall and a bunker-like ceiling. Overall, the modern sleek design beautifully represents the site’s former use.

Given the location, look and feel of the place, one would expect the cuisine to be on the steep side, but Chefs Tony Cheng and Roland Schuller (the man behind The Drawing Room in Causeway Bay) have created a focused menu for diners that is elegant but affordable. One can enjoy all the trappings of a fine dining restaurant but without the pretension. The a la carte menu has a lovely selection of starters and scrumptious pastas, some of which have Asian flavours and elements infused, thus reflecting Chef Tony Cheng’s aim of a cross-cultural offering (there is a tapas bar menu too).

A big attraction is the delicious 3-course set lunch menu, which has an attractive price ($188 +10% per person) and is changed on a weekly basis. Our lovely host Lauren thankfully chose a selection of dishes both a la carte and set menu for Food4Media.com’s Resham, Rach and I to feast on, which saved us from the agony of trying to pick dishes as frankly, we wanted to eat everything!

We sampled the light and refreshing sweet Japanese prawn with cherry gazpacho from the set menu, swiftly followed by some excellent grilled scallops with ginger, chives and Japanese pumpkin (an a la carte appetiser). The scallops were plump, delicately seasoned and perfected cooked and were complimented by the pumpkin puree.

A standout starter and an AMMO favourite is the slow cooked egg with toro, sea urchin and zucchini sauce. It was extremely satisfying breaking the egg and seeing the gorgeous runny yolk ooze and mix in with the rest of the ingredients on the plate. The freshness of the toro and the urchin plus the egg was like a party in my mouth!

We gleefully tucked into four pasta dishes for mains. Rach commented that sometimes pasta portions are so huge that you can’t fully appreciate the flavours, instead spending time wrestling with a mound of carbs; however at AMMO, the portions were well controlled, the homemade pasta (made with chicken eggs) nicely al dente and the sauce allowed to do the talking.

The tuna tartar taglioni had a piquant yoghurt sauce that added a wonderful depth to the pasta. For a pasta dish, it’s relatively light and I would recommend it (should it appear again in the future), if you are seeking something a little less heavy going at lunch.

The angel hair with uni, tomatoes and garlic chips was a solid dish and again, perfectly seasoned. If you’re a fan of uni, you’ll enjoy mixing the creamy sea urchin into the angel hair and tasting that rich, slightly sweet flavour of the sea.

I loved the pappardelle with veal and pork meatballs; I could’ve eaten a whole plate of the meatballs alone, they were that tasty. I enjoyed the egginess of the pappardelle, which soaked up the superb tomato sauce and makes you hanker for more.

But the real triumph of the pasta mains was the Burrata cheese ravioli with Peking duck ragout. It was hard work sharing this dish, and if you’re as much of a cheese fanatic as I am, this is the piece de resistance! Everything about this dish was sublime, from the creaminess of the cheese, to the soft yet firm and chewy bounce of the ravioli, down to the salty meatiness of the duck ragout. I was in pasta heaven.

Last, but definitely not least, were the desserts. We had the mochi with fresh berry from the set menu and the pan-fried brioche and vanilla panna cotta from the a la carte. I love it when panna cotta has lots of visible vanilla seeds, and AMMO’s was delectable and surprisingly light. 

The brioche was fabulous and very reminiscent of the kind of French toast you’d make for yourself as a naughty treat – beautiful and crisp on the outside, soft and rich on the inside. The mochi were bite-sized fruity delights and made for a great palate cleanser.

Asia Society Hong Kong Centre has hit the right note by establishing AMMO and bridging the gap between casual affordable cuisine and fine dining. The location is fantastic, though a little out of the way, and on the two occasions I’ve been, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the food, the decor and the ambience. Service is smooth and friendly, and it feels as if you’re dining somewhere quite swish. And the best part is that your wallet doesn’t tremble at the sight of the bill when it arrives.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

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AMMO, Asia Society Hong Kong Centre, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty, Hong Kong, 2537 9888
www.ammo.com.hk

You can also read the review on Sassy.


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A taste of Piedmont

(Horrendously late with updating the blog with this review I did for Sassy! Sorry, sorry, more updating to follow!)

Sometimes I wonder if I was a Roman in a former life, such is my love for parma ham, pasta, cheese, and all things that encompass the heart and soul of Italian food. So I was very pleased to hear that yet another new Italian place had opened and taken up residence on the corner of Lyndhurst Terrace opposite Paisano’s Pizzeria.

Having no exposure to food from Piedmont (North- West of Italy on the border with France and Switzerland), where La Piola takes its inspiration, I was curious to find out what was different about the Piemontese cuisine. After some research, I found that Piemontese cooking is reputedly one of the best out of all the Italian regions and that the area specialises in great wines, truffles, braised beef, risotto and a pasta called “agnolotti,”, a type of ravioli stuffed with roast beef or pork and flavoured with parmesan and herbs. Quite a reputation to uphold!

Sprawling over two-levels, the ground floor is a casual dining area with a wine bar looking into the streets and the first floor is for more intimate dining. As wood seems to be the décor de rigeur these days, La Piola too, is decked in timber with brick walls and a feel that says, ‘laid-back’. As the name means ‘tavern’, this is clearly the atmosphere they want to capture, with customers coming in to enjoy a glass of wine or three over casual conversation and good food.

The menu is comprehensive and set out into sections covering hot and cold starters, homemade pastas and main courses.

Three starters caught my eye: the peperoni in bagna caoda– roasted peppers served with a traditional garlic and anchovy sauce (love, love, love anchovies), the flan di melanzane con fonduta di fontina d’aosta– an eggplant flan with fontina d’aosta cheese fondue and the gratin di patate con formaggi d’alpeggio e tartufo – a potato gratin with Piedmont’s alps cheese and truffle.

I’ll be the first to admit that the roasted peppers did not look that appetizing when first presented, but I can definitely say that they were delicious; finely roasted sweet peppers with a perfectly seasoned sauce. I am however, one of those few people who adore anchovies and copious amounts of garlic.The eggplant flan was an arresting sight. It totally did not look how I imagined it would. It resembled a pudding rather than a starter, a panna cotte-esque dish with fierce cheese spikes sticking out. It was cheesy and had a lovely pâté texture. Extremely cheesy and pleasing to my palate. It was, however, difficult to detect the eggplant, as the cheese flavour was quite strong.The potato gratin was good, especially with the fantastic aroma of truffles accompanying it. It could have done with a bit more seasoning and more sauce, but otherwise it was a solid dish.

For mains, we ordered a variety of pastas and main courses.

As it’s a specialty of the region, I went for the agnolotti di nonna paolina al ragu‘ di carne– agnolotti with beef ragu. A good sized portion with the pasta nicely al dente and a rich meaty filling with just enough sauce to ensure it didn’t get too dry.The other mains that were ordered were the braised beef in Barolo wine and a vegetable ratatui, the wild boar stew with traditional Piedmont polenta and the gnocchi with tomato sauce, fresh mint and salty ricotta. The braised beef had been tenderized very well by the Barolo wine, but perhaps the richness of the meat would benefit from a pairing with a fresh side salad to balance out the heaviness. The wild boar was delicious but my friend commented that the polenta lacked in flavour in comparison to the meat. The gnocchi went down a treat. My girlfriend actually said the portion was too small! She did think it could have been cheesier and more heavily seasoned.We finished with three puddings, the standout being the panna cotte, which was lovingly dressed with a raspberry coulis. One of the better panna cottes I’ve sampled in Hong Kong.

Overall, we enjoyed our meal at La Piola, and it is refreshing that we have a variant of the tried and tested Italian cuisine we all know and love to grace the streets of Soho. Make sure you try out one of their cocktails- they were yum! One drawback was the service. We were ignored a fair few times and it was next to impossible to flag someone down without making a show and dance of it. However, given it is in its infancy, I would expect that this is something that will improve soon, as they iron out the last of the kinks.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

La Piola, G/F + 1/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, 2-10 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong Tel: 2851 2281

$$-$$$$$$$$$$ (excluding drinks)


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208..not so great

Hype sometimes works in your favour, but for 208 Duocento Otto, it definitely has not.

Opened by Yenn Wong of JIA Boutique Hotels (one of which is by 208 on Hollywood Road), Chef Vinny Lauria promises New York style Italian food, specialising in Neopolitan-style pizzas.

D and I went lastnight and when the taxi pulled up in front, I saw a building that looks a bit like a solid bar of dark chocolate..so far, so intriguing. Walking past the the outdoor seating area and up the steps into the ground floor bar, you first get the impression that you’re entering a gentleman’s club from the Tudor/Renaissance period with all the dark browns encapsulating the interior: wooden panelling on the ceilings, dark wood flooring, seating, shelving behind the bar.

Then, I noticed the walls. Floor to ceiling, downstairs, upstairs and in the toilets, it seemed like the whole restaurant had been infected by bathroom tiling and I felt like I was sitting in a bowl.Tiling overdose aside, what matters is the service and the food. After being told on Monday that there were no tables available, and we would be wait listed, D was then told yesterday that a 7pm slot was free.

When we arrived, we were ushered upstairs, only to be greeted by the manager who demanded if we had a reservation (hmm obviously we had one otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten as far as upstairs) and then, we were told to go back downstairs as we were early (it was 7.01pm) and wait as they were still having their staff training! I understand staff training is important, but don’t open the restaurant at 7pm if you’re not going to be ready, and definitely don’t have your staff meeting AT 7!

As we waited at the bar, more people arrived and soon there was a cluster of “7pm people” waiting at the foot of the stairs. We perused the bar menu and I spied my favourite pizza- the Capricciosa, so D and I decided we would order that as one of our mains.

When we finally sat down upstairs (ambience was quite lovely, still had that bathroom feel to it!), we realised the restaurant was pretty empty, even with all the other diners. Tables all fully booked and suddenly one free at 7pm? Lies!!

Back to food; we had heard mixed reviews, especially about their pastas but their starters have gotten a big thumbs up from our friends. D and I decided to share the “Pomodori Uovo”- poached japanese egg, pecorino romano and garlic fett’unta (lightly greased sliced of bread) and ‘nduja (soft, spicy hot spreadable salami, mostly produced in Calabria). It was quite a hefty portion and the chef was a bit heavy handed with the tomatoes and salt, but overall, it was good. I loved the ‘nduja and the runny egg, and it was deeply satisfying heaping a spoonful onto my “fett’unta”.For mains, I tried to order the Capricciosa pizza, which wasn’t on the restaurant menu (the pizza selection on the main menu has fewer selections than the bar menu), but the manager informed me that they could only make it for those eating at the bar and they couldn’t make it for those eating in the restaurant. I thought this was ridiculous and completely illogical. If you can make it for downstairs, why can’t you make it for upstairs?! Slightly incensed by this, I ordered, with a huff, the Prosiutto e rucola pizza which, by mine and D’s calculations, had more ingredients and therefore, would be more worth our money. It was also the only pizza that had parma ham.The pizza base was chewy and cheesey and there was a generous topping of parma ham and half a forest of rocket. After consuming most of the crisp bread that came at the start and the fett’unta, I had gone into a carb coma and couldn’t eat the crust.We also ordered the Fazzoletti “Bolognese Blanco”, a braised rabbit, pancetta and mushroom pasta in a cream sauce with a horseradish gremolata (a chopped herb condiment consisting of garlic, parsley, and lemon zest). Despite friends saying that their pastas were drab, I must admit, this pasta was good, good creamy consistency, the rabbit was tender and the horseradish gremolata offset the saltiness of the pancetta well. We did, however, object to the pieces of celery that peppered the dish. While the purpose of the celery is to lighten the pasta and add a more refreshing taste, many people, D included, are not keen on seeing or eating visible slices of celery, so it would have been better to finely chop the celery and incorporate it into the sauce.A typical selection of Italian desserts awaited us and we opted for the vanilla panna cotta with peach “cobbler” and extra vecchio balsamico. This was very disappointing. The panna cotta itself was neither rich nor sweet enough and fell flat with no balance from the peach cobbler which did nothing except merely tickle the palate, rather than add a pleasant sour zing to the creaminess of the panna cotta. I also couldn’t taste the vanilla. The balsamic vinegar was an unnecessary and poor compliment to this pudding let-down.

Sad and unsatisfied, we ended with pots of fresh mint tea, but mine was more like mint water as I had a paltry 3 mint leaves to D’s 6 in hers.

Will I be returning? Not any time soon! You will see me instead at Pizza Express noshing on some dough balls.

Chopstixfix rating: 2/5

208 Duocento Otto, 208 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan. Tel: 2549 0208.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$    Dinner was very expensive at $370 per person, for one main and one starter/dessert each, without any drinks except our mint tea at the end!


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A taste of Italy

I feel that I’ve been voraciously eating Japanese food for the last few months and disregarding one of my all time favourite cuisines- Italian.

How I adore Italy and its dishes. Spaghetti vongole on the Amalfi Coast, lemon sorbet in Milan, spaghetti arrabiata in Rome, pesto alla genovese, gelato in Florence…ahhh I could go on.

So it occurred to me recently that since coming to HK, I’d only been to a miserable total of 2 Italian restaurants, Amaroni’s in Festival Walk, which was average and Al Dente on Staunton which was actually pretty good, but before the days of the blogging (will have to go there again soon). Then again, most of us mere mortals can whip up a decent pasta dish or three (I can do a mean spag bol and a pea risotto) but nothing quite beats getting the authentic taste of the land of the Romans without having to slog at the stove yourself.

Much excitement was abound when I heard about the new Northern Italian place, La Baita aka “alpine stone cottage” on Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai.

To me, “Alpine stone cottage” conjures up images of yodelling and singing Sound of Music on a mountain, which contrasts with passionate, boisterous Italy, and made me wonder what the ambience and decor would be like. I imagine they were trying to give a rustic, cosy feel to the restaurant but as the interior is enormous, and can easily seat several large groups of people, the effect instead, is a rather souless, cold atmosphere. The management have tried to compensate by the use of soft lights and candles which does help create a more intimate feel when you’re dining.La Baita has an extensive selection of wines from Italy and are displayed in a gigantic and impressive looking wine fridge next to the bar, which serves as a decoration in itself!

The menu is concise and showcases a fine array of Northern Italian food. To start, we ordered the Sauteed baby squid with tomato sauce and the Cherry Mozzarella wrapped with Parma ham and wild mushrooms. The squid was excellent- lovingly prepared and nicely chewy  with all the flavours complimenting each other delicately across the palate. The cherry mozzarella was fantastic, but the presentation made me think of 5 snails hibernating (not to put you off). I adore cheese and adore parma ham and you can’t really go wrong with this combination can you?For mains, all of us went for one of their homemade pastas. I love that they offer half or full sized portions which I think is important especially when ordering heavy dishes like risotto and gnocchi.

KL went for the linguine with clams and zucchini which was lovely, light and very fresh.Chiaphuati had the homemade black ink tagliolini with shrimp, scallops and fava beans. I snaffled a bit and felt that the combination of the ingredients could’ve been smoother and I wasn’t sure if it was due to the strong flavour of the black ink or the fava beans. The tagliolini was a bit too al dente for my liking but overall this was an interesting dish.I had the handmade gnocchi with black truffle and asparagus which was gorgeous. The truffle flavour was punchy and strong but not overpowering and as I had the half portion, I was able to chow down the whole lot and still have room for dessert.Being the greedy pigs that we were/are, each of us ordered a dessert. Chiaphuati and I were amused by the sound of the “wrap up gianduia icecream with nuts, socked in coffee. Obviously, they meant soaked but we’re also juvenile so that made us laugh for a good 5 minutes. We also ordered the frozen amaretto sabayon with toffee sauce (an Italian dessert made from egg yolks, sugar and a sweet wine) and the tiramisu with coffee and caramel sauce.The tiramisu was outstanding and also HUGE. The coffee flavour wasn’t too bitter or overwhelming, which can sometimes be the case. The sabayon was smooth and rich; eating it was like eating a slab of frozen cream, very decadent. The gianduia was a delicious but substantial pudding and they were a little heavy-handed with the coffee. If you’re sensitive to caffeine I would avoid this dessert!

The service was excellent, the waiters were helpful and exuberant about the food and the prices were very reasonable. Definitely my new go-to place for my Italian cravings- I’ll be trying the veal milanese next time, which I hear is delicious!

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

La Baita, 248 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Tel: 2572 8872

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