Bryan and I have this unspoken rule. When it's your birthday, the day is yours. You get to choose whatever activity you want. This year for Bryan's birthday, his best friend from middle school flew out with his family to visit us and to celebrate Bryan's birthday with us.
I had originally suggested to Bryan that we eat at 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana Hong Kong for his birthday. This exquisite 3-Michelin starred Italian restaurant has been on Bryan's "to-try" list forever (like, since we moved to Hong Kong over a year ago). However, he felt bad about not giving his visiting friends an authentic Hong Kong experience.
I mean, who goes to Hong Kong to eat Italian food?
Our friends were surprisingly supportive, indicating that if a 3-Michelin starred restaurant is, by definition, "worth a special journey," then that was reason alone to visit 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana. Considering it's the only 3-Michelin starred Italian restaurant outside of Italy, 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana becomes even more unique and special.
I won't hold the suspense until the end. We all loved it. My friends were floored by the quality of the meal and concluded that it was one of the best meals of the entire trip! Most importantly, Bryan loved it and really enjoyed his birthday meal.
Here's our meal!
To start . . .
Bread was a great way to start since we were all pretty hungry. We loved the olive oil that came with the bread, which was fragrant, fruity, and a bit peppery as well.
Everyone received a simple amuse bouche consisting of a mushroom foam soup that included bits of mushrooms inside. It was light, airy, and creamy with a pleasant mushroom flavor.
For starters, several people got the Confit Abalone Carpaccio. Each thin slice came topped with sweet pepper, semi-dried tomato, and a generous amount of Calvisius elite caviar. It was a lovely, balanced, bite.
I chose to start instead with the Tuna Tartare, which included a mixture of two types of tuna (likely akami and chutoro) topped with caviar and a few dollops of a yuzu tofu cream. It was astounding. The quality of the ingredients was clearly top notch, and the balance of simple flavors really allowed the tuna to shine. To be honest, I preferred this to the abalone carpaccio.
We were smack in the season of white truffle season, so white truffles were all over the menu. Several at our table (including me!) were tempted to order some. I opted for the Single Poached Egg on Toast with shaved white truffles on top.
I firmly believe that the best way to enjoy white truffles is to have them with something simple. In Alba, most people either eat them with eggs, beef tartare, or a simple egg pasta. This is why I opted for a simple poached egg, which was delicious.
Before the next pasta mid-course, they brought over round two of bread. This bread was equally delicious, freshly made with different types of grains.
Pasta Mid Course
Then our mid-course (pasta!) started to arrive. The Linguini with Crab was fantastic, full of depth and umami from the crab yet still maintaining a sense of lightness. The pasta texture was perfect.
Bryan the birthday boy decided to go all out and order the homemade tagliolini with butter, Parmesan, and shaved Alba white truffles. This is a very traditional and authentic way to enjoy white truffles. He let me try a bite, and I was hooked. I must concede that his white truffle pasta dish showcased the truffles even better than my poached egg dish. If you only get one white truffle dish, get this one. It's phenomenal.
White truffles smell sooooo good.
All of the main courses were excellent. M9 Sirloin and Beef Cheeks [HKD 490] was exceptionally tender and came with a red wine and plum sauce. A tiny salad of green beans and carrots plus a dollop of creamy mashed potatoes completed the dish.
We were all really impressed with the Baby Lamb, which came with aromatic herbs, black olive, barley, and vegetables. The size of the ribs made me realize just how small the lamb must have been, which did make me just a tad sad.
The steak was also cooked a perfect rare and came with some simple vegetables (zucchini, radish, carrots, green beans, etc.). It also included a dollop of the creamy mashed potatoes (reminiscent of Robuchon mashed potatoes but not quite the same).
Cheese and Dessert
The cheese block had many, many amazing options and it was hard to choose.
We ended up discovering some incredible cheeses that we had never tried and really, really enjoyed.
For dessert, they highly recommended their signature Pear Tart, which I really liked. The crispy layers of crust were incredibly light, and the fruit inside was very natural with just a hint of added sugar.
We also tried their lemon soufflé, which was light, airy, and overall executed perfectly.
Happy Birthday Bryan!
The mignardises or petit fours were a lovely way to finish the meal.
8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana Hong Kong - General Thoughts
What can I say, we absolutely loved our meal here.The service was pleasant, the ambiance was comfortable, and the food was excellent. Chef Bombana is a genius when it comes to food, and we really appreciated the opportunity to be able to experience it. Although he also has restaurants in Shanghai and Macau, he spends most of his time at the Hong Kong location.
The menu has both a la carte options and a degustation tasting menu (around HKD 1680). We opted for a la carte because we were eating with a young child who would have had a hard time with the longer course-by-course format. Appetizers and pastas are in the HKD 200 - 400 range, while entrees average in the HKD400 - 600 range.
There is a dress code: men should avoid wearing shorts, vest, sandals and slippers. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner but closed on Sundays.
8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana Hong Kong
Shop 202, Landmark Alexandra
18 Chater Road
Central Hong Kong
This is the forty-first post in the updated #50Postsin50Days – Take 2 Challenge. Other posts in this series will be added to the bottom of the original post.