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Bu Pun Su

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo, Hong Kong

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Often claimed as the best Italian restaurant outside Italy and the fact that it was November (meaning the season of white truffle) – these were adequate “excuses” for me to have a dinner at 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo when I was in Hong Kong last year. Actually, I visited this place several years ago for a quick lunch; ordering a few a la carte dishes and I thought they were tasty and well executed though I didn’t think the kitchen delivered 3-star level of food.

 

It was a dinner on Wednesday evening and the restaurant was packed (Otto e Mezzo has been doing very well to fill their 55 seats daily). Probably, that’s why the reservation process was easy – via email and they did not ask for any CC for guarantee. I arrived nearly 8 PM and most of the diners were already there. I was determined to have a couple of dishes with white truffle at first, but ended up ordering more. Given how generous the managers and their assistant when shaving the precious fungus, I did not regret my decision.

 

My meal started with good focaccia bread served with high quality extra virgin olive oil and not-so strong balsamic vinegar (per my request). The amuse-bouche already had white truffle in it: warm and creamy potato soup with wild mushrooms. After that, my first appetizer was roasted Hokkaido scallop; the bigger one was pan seared and the smaller one was lightly battered. Scallops were tender and sweet. I also liked the crunchy raw porcini on top, the mushroom sauce was pleasant. Now for the Alba truffle parts:

 

In line with Chef Bombana’s principle to prepare dishes in such a way that they will highlight the intensity of the truffle’s flavor and aroma, I ordered one egg dish and one pasta dish.

-Organic taiyouran egg was naturally sweet with its pretty bright orange yolk. The egg’s delicate flavor went well with the generous sliced of earthy and garlicky “fragrance” of the white truffle

-Homemade tagliolini, cooked al dente, was served in the butter and parmesan sauce (the pasta nicely absorbed the not-so-strong sauce). Again, a simple dish would make the Alba truffle’s pungent smell and unique flavor shine. Another classic matching     

 

Despite the busy schedule (entertaining the media and ready to go for the HK Michelin ’17 ‘party’ in the night), chef-owner Umberto Bombana spent some times visiting and talking to diners. I had a short discussion with him regarding which main course to order. For the meat, he recommended the Fassone veal. Initially, I thought because it was part of white truffle dish but it turned out that the veal itself was indeed superb. The thinly coated Piemontese (breed) tenderloin, though relatively lean, was very tender, delicious with lingering flavor. The clean taste of the meat was integrated by more intense truffle. Lastly, for the dessert, I ordered truffle gelato with some crisp, sweet and creamy things found in Chantilly, nougat and chestnuts. The gelato’s flavor was not intense but there were plenty of sliced white truffles (again). The petit fours were also well prepared and with good variety

 

Unlike the classic design of Toscana (Chef Bombana’s previous restaurant), the décor of Otto e Mezzo was modern, chic and sleek. There was a bar with a few tables and as you walked further, you would reach the main dining room with long windows panel, some mirrors, and some paintings. The tables and their distances were quite spacous. Asians were, unfortunately, not known to be fantastic maître d’. Here, the restaurant (in addition to the manager) employs a few others Italians (I noticed 2) to run and serve at the dining room. Generally, the service was relaxed, friendly and attentive. Some of them made effort to have a chat with me who dined solo. I was very pleased with this meal and as I saw my notes, I gave 96/100 for the food (2¾ *). This apparently ranked as the best meal I’ve ever had in HK/Macau – better than my meals at Sushi Shikon, Robuchon au Dome or Lung King Heen. I certainly would not mind returning here especially during the Fall / Winter season  

 

More comprehensive review: http://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.co.id/2017/02/8-otto-e-mezzo-hong-kong.html

 

Pictures of our meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/sets/72157679964086015

 

 

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After having had an impressive meal at 8 ½ in late 2016 … I seemed to be ‘addicted’ to the cooking of Umberto Bombana. Given that I’m usually in Hong Kong for 1 week at most in a year, it was kinda unexpected that by now I would already have eaten there two more times. The simple, clean and delicious cooking by chef Bombana was one of the reasons. Another one (almost equally as important), Otto Mezzo served its truffle dish by shaving the raw mushrooms generously – more than I usually get at any other fine dining places.

 

My 2 visits happened to be coincided during the seasons of Australian winter truffle (2017) and French Perigord truffle (1st quarter of 2018). I had the usual suspects such as (Taiyouran) egg ravioli, risotto with lots of black truffle as my appetizers – they’re good and pleasant. For the main courses, I ordered:

-Roasted Bresse chicken having tender meat, deep flavor though slightly dry with some truffle under the skin. It was complemented by black truffle sauce, mushrooms, artichoke and mashed potatoes. It was a flavorful dish and not that heavy

-I noticed that Chef Bombana also likes using “lean” meat. Last time I ate Fassone veal and this time a succulent lamb (cooked medium-rare) from New Zealand called ‘Te Mana’. It was succulent but not too flavorful by itself – it’s assisted by the marsala sauce with black truffle. The bread crumb around the lamb kept the meat moist.  

 

Both meals were satisfying although neither reached the ‘height’ of my dinner in 2016. In general, the dishes performed at 2-2 ½* levels consistently. In both times, Chef Bombana was present .. sometimes he visited the dining room when there’re Vips or regulars to greet. Given its central location, friendly service, pleasant wine and good food – Otto e Mezzo were always busy especially for business lunch. I was happy with the success of Umberto and his team; his empires kept expanding and (I heard that) they also perform at high level in Macau, Beijing and Shanghai. Will I return again here? Sure but probably not so soon

 

Meal photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/sets/72157667566643967/with/41568845705/

 

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