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

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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