Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Get me to the Shore

The L place is becoming quite the hip and happening spot, with Cantopop on ground level, Linguini Fini on the first and Shore sprawling over the third and fourth floors. The first time I had a meal at Shore, was when its doors opened back in October last year. Though the ambience was pleasing, the decor swish and modern, and the space vast, I was distinctly underwhelmed by the whole experience, not least because the best item on the menu at the time was the chunky cut chips. However, after giving it a wide berth, (a year in fact), to settle in and iron out its kinks, I gave it another shot and this time I left with more than the chips on my mind.The girls at Sassy have organised a very fun and successful Sassy Hour at Shore before, and while many people flock to the third floor for their popular Happy Hour to have laid-back al fresco cocktails on the terrace, it turns out that most seem to be unaware of the restaurant. Perhaps, back at its inception, this was a good thing, but now I can safely say that things are on the up, upstairs.

One aspect of this restaurant that I do admire is the decoration. Taking full advantage of the ridiculous 10,000 sq ft split-level space, Kinney Chan, the designer, has used natural earth tones and soft contours for the ‘Onshore’ fine dining restaurant, and sea hues and coral effects for the ‘underwater’ bar downstairs. It’s all rather soothing and relaxing.The menu has been given a ‘reboot’ and now the open kitchen churns out a wide variety of Western fare. Their main area of focus is their dry-aged “meat on the bone” from Australia, and prime cuts from the USA and Canada and they also have a selection of seafood specialities in keeping with their ‘Offshore’ concept.

I had a bit of a feast as usual, starting with the humble but excellent Prawn cocktail with classic Marie Rose sauce, (posh name for ketchanaise). The Australian prawns were large, succulent and nicely seasoned and the sauce was at its tangy best.Next, I sampled the Baby Butter Lettuce Hearts salad with fresh crab, avocado, spring onions and cucumber with a wonderfully refreshing dressing. The presentation was alarmingly green; it was practically screaming, “I’M FRESH!!” Luckily for Shore, it was, and one of the better salads I’ve had in a restaurant for a while.For mains, I had to try a steak of course. For the steak-clueless, they have the ominously titled “Meat Bible” for you to read and digest before you pick your cut. It’s actually not a huge read, but it is educational and comes with pictures, which always helps.  I had the 12oz all natural grain fed USA Prime Rib-eye steak from Cedar Farms, USA. It was huge and even though I only had half, (I shared with my companion thankfully), I still had a touch of the meat-sweats afterwards. The steak was well-prepared, the meat of a high quality, but didn’t set itself apart from its counterparts in other establishments. Overall it was a solid effort, and yet again, the chips were great.Dessert is a different story. The menu has two sections- the ‘Choco Block’ and the ‘Not-so Choco Block’. In other words, chocolatey treats and non chocolate treats.

I had the “very sorry task” of having their 9 layer chocolate cake, a task that I was extremely reluctant to undertake, as I didn’t want to create food envy when I then proceeded to post a photo of it on Twitter. It’s positively sinful. Chocolate sponge, ganache and praline buttercream elegantly layered and presented teasingly on a plate before me. How’s a girl supposed to say no to that? I’m not going to comment as I think you can probably guess what I thought of it. I’ll let your taste-buds decide for themselves when you pay Shore a visit.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

Shore, 3rd & 4th floor, L Place, 139 Queen’s Road, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2915 1638

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You can also read this review on Sassy Hong Kong.

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Linguini Genie

No frills, no fuss, just good food. Sometimes that’s all I want. Should be easy enough to get, one would think?

Perhaps it’s just me, but lately I find that restaurants are pulling out all the stops to impress with their fancy but pricey menus and dishes with convoluted names and intricate presentations, when half the time, I’m only interested in how the grub tastes.

How difficult can it be to get simple, hearty food (aside from my mum’s homemade cooking)? The answer: pretty hard. Apart from cha chaan tengs, and little cafes, most restaurants in Hong Kong seem to have problems mastering simplicity itself. So it’s a breath of fresh air that Linguini Fini has come onto the scene with its delicious and affordable nose-to-tail pork dishes and fresh home-made pastas. The group that brought us Posto Pubblico has got a winner on their hands with a casual eatery that is completely focused on the quality and taste of the food without the pretension. It’s refreshing that it’s all about the nosh and isn’t meant to be a sophisticated experience.The interior is an artistic reflection of the food- modern, simple and hip with a local twist. The street artist group Start from Zero, has an original piece adorning the walls of a space that resonates with the vibe of a downtown New York loft. I like that their kitchen, pasta and salumi-making areas are open for diners to see, which gives a relaxed and fun ambience.I’m convinced Executive Chef and native New-Yorker Vinny Lauria created the menu just for me, because it just about has everything I love about Italian food on it and more. He uses every part of the pig from nose-to-tail, all the pastas are freshly made twice a day and there’s in-house curing of meats and sausages. His interpretation of Italian classics with locally-infused flavours is original and down-right tasty.To start you can choose from the flatbread selection or their salumi. I had the fantastic House cured lingua, which had a light dressing and raw red onions, followed by the utterly sublime Straccetti di Manzo from the antipasti section. Even if you’re not a rare beef person, I encourage you to try this dish as it really was mouth-wateringly delicious. I’ll definitely be ordering this repeatedly in the future as I adore artichokes, beef, gorgonzola and anchovies…. All which happen to be in this one dish. Hooray!The pigs, from which the nose-to-tail menu relies upon, are hormone-free from Bath but reared in Hong Kong. Only a few ingredients are imported- the beef and salmon hail from Australia and the sea-salt from Essex, but otherwise everything else is locally sourced.

I had to have the Rotisserie Porchetta- pork belly with chili mostarda. I adored the crunchy pork crackling and the meat itself was juicy and tender, the mostarda a piquant complement to the fattiness. The pork belly was chopped up and presented on bread, but personally I could’ve done without the carbs, although it did soak up the lovely pork juices.There’s a huge variety of pastas to choose from- 18 to be exact but it’s the signature pastas that really stand out as Chef Lauria has cleverly blended local flavours into the pasta, for example, salted egg, dried shrimp and fragrant grass.

I had the delectable dried shrimp pasta which smelt just like XO sauce and had a great spicy kick to it. It was pretty perfect to be honest.The Fazzoletti nose-to-tail bolo, with a three-meat ragu- pork, oxtail and veal was also excellent, with a good balance of meat sauce to lovely wide-sheets of al-dente pasta.To end my lunch, I had the lemon olive oil cake with poppy seed gelato and the tiramisu.

The home-made gelato and desserts are all meticulously prepared by pastry chef Jack Chua. The lemon olive oil cake is probably the unsung hero of the menu, being overlooked for regular Italian classics like Panna cotta and tiramisu. The whole ensemble is impeccable, from the silky lightness of the gelato to the lemon zestiness of the cake.Chef Chua’s take on tiramisu is innovative, and doesn’t resemble the classic dessert as we know it. The tiramisu is deconstructed with a frozen chocolate tiramisu gelato atop a coffee cake crumble with mascarpone cream. Large mouthfuls are hugely satisfying, with the chocolate-tiramisu flavoured gelato smoothly giving way to the stronger coffee taste in the crumble.I was impressed by the entire package of Linguini Fini. The quality of the food is exemplary and at such reasonable prices, (the most expensive dish is $168), it’s no wonder that it’s doing a roaring trade so early in its infancy. The one thing I have to complain about is their no-reservations policy, but as they say, something’s gotta give.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

Linguini Fini, 1/F, The L Place, 139 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong. Tel: 2857 1333

You can also read this review on Sassy Hong Kong.

[Many thanks to IHM Marketing for the professional pics you can see!]