8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana – 3 Star Michelin Italian Restaurant at Hong Kong Impresses
[Hong Kong] 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana is the only Italian restaurant outside of Italy to have received 3 Michelin stars – that mean it serves exceptional cuisine, and worth a special journey.
It is ranked Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant at Number 6, and also the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2013. Quite a feat considering it opened only in January 2013. While I have yet to try all of Hong Kong’s 3-star restaurants, the food may have left a deeper impression than L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon and to a smaller extent Lung King Heen. (Updated: 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana is ranked Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014 at Number 10.)
I had the privilege to meet Chef Umberto Bombana, unofficially known as the best Italian chef in Asia, a jovial friendly person who is very willing to share about his experiences.
His pride and joy 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana has a classy modern décor, with an elegant main dining room which can seat 55, along with two other private dining rooms. Looking around, there was a 50-50 expat versus local Asian clientele, mostly coming very well-dressed, waiting in anticipation to savour this meal of the year.
I was too. All eyes on the degustation menu at HK$1230 per person (additional HK$780 for wine pairing).
Both mains were exceptional – a Colorado Rack of Lamb with Artichoke Puree, Black Olive and Lamb Jus, or the choice of a Tajima Short Rib and Beef Tenderloin with red wine and plum sauce, whipped potato on side.
There wasn’t anything deliberately fanciful about both dishes. No, there was not any special catch or secret ingredient (I guess). If you want to recipe of the Tajima Ribs, they have made them available online.
But when you slowly let the fork-tender meat linger in your mouth, you may wonder about that explosion of taste, that fatty yet lean texture, and the meat that seems familiar yet you know you never had it this good.
Chef’s plan was probably for diners to appreciate the meats as it is, and it is the skilled preparation and using the freshest high quality ingredient – in this case Tajima 500 days grain fed beef.
My personal favourite dish came from outside the degustation menu though, a Veal Chop (HK$450) presented Milanese style. This looks deceptively simple, like a pork chop or schnitzel deep fried in homemade breadcrumbs.
The huge but supremely thin piece is sliced right beside the table. Usually we say let the sight or taste do the talking, for this case, the sound of the crackling batter that went ‘crunch’ as it is sliced would give a good indication at how superbly crisp yet tenderly moist this piece is.
For most fine dining restaurants, I say go for the degustation menu. However, 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana offers many some dishes on the ala carte menu (such as the hand-made pasta dishes) that are worth trying and were easily more satisfying than some of those in the degustation menu.
Our only disappointment was the seafood dishes, especially the Line Caught Sea Bass (HK$300).
Many of the Michelin star restaurant restaurants I been to may give the impression of decorative, innovative, seeking to impress by taste though many by sight. Conversely, 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana has none of those fancy happenings, but back to what modern classic Italian food should be. A superb experience.
8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana
Shop 202, 2/F, Alexandra House, 5-17 Des Voeux Road Central, Central, Hong Kong
Reservation: Tel: +852 2537 8859 Fax: +852 2537 8895, [email protected]
Opening Hours: 12:00p – 10:00pm (Mon-Sat, Closed on Sun)