Before I moved to Hong Kong, a friend who grew up in Hong Kong kept telling me how great the Italian food was. Even though Boston is known for its Italian food, my friend told me that the Italian food in Hong Kong was at least as good, if not better.
Our first several months in Hong Kong were spent at Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui. We lived at a serviced apartment attached to the biggest mall in Hong Kong. As a result, we had plenty of opportunities to just walk out into the mall to try new restaurants if we didn't feel like stepping outside. Trust me, during those super hot humid days in the summer, it's a blessing.
I didn't have much expectation for the food in the mall. After all, how good can mall food be?
I soon realized I was very, very mistaken, especially when it comes to Harbour City. Harbour City is one of the most dynamic and happening dining spots in the city. Many, many celebrity chefs as well as global restaurant groups try to open up in Harbour City. There are multiple celebrated Michelin-starred chefs, Tokyo's most sought-after sushi and ramen restaurants, Taiwan's well known noodle shops, and on and on and on.
There are several Italian restaurants. Because Italian is probably Bryan's all-time favorite cuisine, and because Bryan often didn't want Chinese food after spending a week in China, we ended up exploring almost all of the Italian restaurants inside Harbour City.
La Locanda, by the Dining Concepts group in collaboration with Italian chef Giancarlo Perbellini, was one that I enjoyed quite a bit.
Chef Perbellini has several Michelin stars under his belt from his restaurants in Italy, and this restaurant is meant to showcase some of the "greatest hits" from his restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised by the first course, Insalata della Casa Seasonal Salad ($98 HKD for a small; $158 HKD for a large), a refreshing salad consisting of greens, Bufalo mozzarella, Parmesan, olives, grilled tomatoes, and sliced almonds tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. The ingredients were fresh, the dressing didn't overpower the dish, and overall it was balanced and delicious.
I was also quite impressed with the Polpo, Patate e Tartufo ($188 HKD), which stands for grilled octopus, potatoes, and truffle. The octopus was cooked properly, which means it was tender and not too chewy. The flavors were spot on, and the presentation was elegant.
Primo - Pasta
Pastas are homemade and the flavor and texture of the Spaghetti Chitarra e Tartufo (spaghetti chitarra with black truffle -$209 HKD) was excellent, with generous shavings of black truffles.
Lasagna....a Modo Nostro ($178 HKD) is their own unique style of lasagna made with layers of their homemade spinach pasta and a rich beef ragu. The pasta is covered with a generous amount of Parmesan cheese, which broiled until crispy on top. Bryan really enjoyed it, though I personally found it a bit too rich for my preference. The pasta gets a bit dry and crunchy on the edges due to the broiling, which affects its texture.
Secondi -Main Course
Dentice, Crema di Patate e Guazzetto ai Crostace ($278 HKD), which consisted of a pan grilled red snapper filet served with a colorful plate of purple cauliflower, bright green parsley mashed potatoes, and an orange shellfish broth. The fish was executed well, and the overall dish was simple, allowing the natural flavors of the ingredients to shine. I felt clean, healthy, and satisfied after eating it.
We tried one of the specials, a crispy boneless, flattened chicken leg that reminded me of the dish Chicken Under a Brick. The chicken came with mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, and some roasted vegetables. The flavors were deep, intense, and rich, enhanced by the deeply flavored jus that was poured over the chicken and the potatoes. The portion size was huge (we couldn't finish it), so we took the rest home for some nice leftovers the next day.
We ended the meal with a simple sorbet and mousse cake from Dalloyau.
General Thoughts - La Locanda by Giancarlo Perbellini
All in all the food here is good. I wouldn't say its particularly creative, but the dishes are well thought out and expertly executed. I especially enjoyed the salad and the seafood items. The pastas are quite good as well. In general, if you're looking for a good Italian restaurant with a reasonably pleasant dining environment (if you sit inside you'll forget you're in a mall), this is a good option.
La Locanda by Giancarlo Perbellini
Shop 402 (4th floor), Ocean Centre, Harbour City
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon