Sunday, April 24, 2011

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo - ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Michelin 2 **

  Chef Umberto Bombana is synonymous with being coined the “Alba White Truffle King” in the Hong Kong dining circle, ever since his time heading the kitchen at the old Toscana.   His latest venture 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo  made one of the most impressive restaurant debuts locally as shortly after just months of opening, it already managed to gain itself a coveted 2 Michelin Stars status.  Impressive indeed.  But is this justifiable?    For me, after 1 visit ordering their Lunch Set Menu @ around $390 with Cheese Platter and another visit ordering their Alba White Truffle Degustation @ $980 (same course during lunch and dinner),  I must stress that one of the stronger points about here is that executions of each and every dish I’d eaten  so far have been immaculate and perfectly cooked.    Although one might expect this to be the case in most fancier restaurants around town, so far even counting in the likes of well seasoned Amber and Caprice, or the Robuchon’s and Petrus and alike, none of the other places managed to pull together this flawless feat.   


IMG_7304The downside?   Otto e Mezzo can be boring and disengaging sometimes to haute cuisine regulars, as despite the courses being cooked to an exemplary standard, the supporting garnitures and the overall presentation or even the recipes themselves can be rather averagely ho-hum in concept – never mind that they somehow ended up tasting great in the end!   Not really worthy of 2 Stars status in my personal opinion, but definitely worth at least 1 Star

HamCheeseRoombCheese and Deli Cool Room -


Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar -

Bread Basket -
The grissini is light and one of the best in town, the focaccia is subtly herbed.  Served warmish, this is one of the better Italian bread baskets in town..  ~  8/10


Citrus Marinated Lobsters,  with Ratte Potato and Autumn Truffle Salad -
Lobster was cooked perfectly, and seasoned well.  The Autumn Truffle was disappointing however as it wasn’t really fragrant nor had taste, it is even worst than Chinese Black Truffles.  If I was the chef here, I wouldn’t let them out of the kitchen.  Overall, a clean starter ~  7/10

Roast Duck Foie Gras, Pear and Eggplant Compote, Port Wine Sauce -
This was cooked to the perfect degree, and had the right gaminess in the liver.  The compote and pear were also done nicely, but to me this was too sweet, but my dining companion was fine with it.  This was probably one of the finest foie gras I’ve eaten except the sugary hit ~  8/10



Chef Bombana Shaving some Alba White Truffle for us - 
He never uses the Tuscany variety, which are slightly inferior as it is of a different DNA.


Krafuss Pinot Noir 2006, Alois Lageder -
Ordered a glass of an earthy red Pinot, to pair with the next White Truffle dish.
White Truffle usually CANNOT be paired with White Wines, don’t be fooled by the similar colour tones.  I’ve seen a lot of people committing this by assuming like-colours work together but in reality either the acidity or the sweetness in white wines completely kills the subtle White Truffle aroma and taste profile.   Only lighter bodied and earthier Reds will work..

Home Made Tagliolini with Alba White Truffle -
The white truffle was shaved generously, but it was OBVIOUS this batch wasn’t overly fragrant.  I’ve had meals in the past when every time the White Truffle was whipped out and shown to potential customers wanting a supplementary shaving, the whole 100+ Square Meter room suddenly becomes filled with a pungent white truffle fragrance, and that’s how powerful they should be compared to even Winter Perigord Truffle!  I could hardly smell this today, even when the truffle metal container was literally next to me, and even when eaten from the bowl of perfectly cooked tagliolini this was rather weak.  The al dente pasta was very eggy, but also had too much strongish cheese influence.  Very very disappointed in this rendition that day, especially with the truffle quality ~  6/10

Tajima Short Rib & Beef Tenderloin, Red Wine and Plum Sauce, Whipped Potato -
The composition of this dish was boring for a Michelin 2 Star restaurant, its like any other Western restaurant out there.  But the slow-cooked short ribs were excellent, even better than the tenderloin and everything was cooked perfectly albeit it seemed like we expected more from it somehow!   ~  8/10

Colorado Rack of Lamb, Artichoke Puree, Black Olive and Lamb Jus -
This was magnificent.  I cannot believe how good this lamb rack tasted, it was tender without being mushy, has just the right amount of gaminess and was evenly cooked.  The artichoke puree and black olives worked well with this.  I still think this dish was slightly boring for a 2 Star restaurant however, but there is no doubt this was one of the best lamb dishes I’ve had ~


Rum Baba -
This is mostly a French dessert but for some reason I keep eating the Italian rendition lately.  This is the ONLY Rum Baba I’ve had in HK which tastes like it should, with the right spongey texture and rum influence.  Paired with rum and raisin ice cream.  Serving it in a glass is not entirely old-school styled, but neglecting this and appreciating it for what it is, it was excellently executed.   ~  8/10

Petits Fours -
I was tempted to call these Pasticcini but they look like modernised petits fours/mignardises.  Average only ~  6.5/10

Espresso -
I complained about this last time and this time, it was finally made pretty well on their V.A. Adonis.  A good finish ~  8/10



***************Previous Lunch Dishes which were Executed Well ****************

Grilled Tuna on Eggplant Salad, Confit ‘Amalfi’ Lemon, Black Olive and Tomato Dressing -
This tasted way better than it looks… and was perfectly executed.  ~  9/10

Home Made Spaghetti “Alla Chitarra”, Guanciale Ham and Seafood Ragout -
Perfectly al dente, with a rich seafood sauce enhanced by the fatty pork cheek ham. One of the most perfect pasta’s I remember having ~  9/10


Aged Cheese Platter with Figs & Cherries by Umberto -
Bra Duro, Quartirolo Lombardo, Stracchino, Sottocenere al tartufo, Castelmagno ~  7/10



Price: $390 Lunch Per Person + 10%
           $980 Dinner Per Person + 10%, plus Wine
Lunch Score: ★★★★☆☆

Dinner Score: ★★★★☆☆

Opening Hours -
Mon to Sunday  12:00am - 22:00pm
Address:  中環德輔道中5-17號歷山大廈2樓202號舖
Shop 202, 2/F, Alexandra House, 5-17 Des Voeux Road Central, Central
Ph: 2537 8859


  1. I love Otto, and I'm not gonna comment on the Michelin thing, coz, well, we've been there before. I really like his rib (to be shared between 2) and his pastas. Not everything worked for me, but it's still one of my favourite restaurants in HK. Oh and I totally get the thing about the scent of white truffles filling an entire room. It was like that for me once at Amber. Man, I'll never forget that. Btw, I thought 'real' white truffles only came from Alba?

  2. Yes I think Otto is pretty decent, at least they cook their food right and as I say, it's all measured on a relative scale. But look at my Beef and Lamb dish - the condiments/garniture were nearly exactly f-ly the same! We were just.... not really sure if we'll be happier if we were presented with just a piece of meat by itself, seeing that it was cooked perfectly at least.

    With White Truffle, the cheaper Tuscan variety is not bad but it has a diff technical name and DNA, I don't know its full name but remember seeing it somewhere before. Am sure its avail online and some restaurants do use the Tuscan variety sometimes (GOLD for one)! I always ask ... :D Amber is definitely pretty good. Especially after doing 2 meals at Caprice this week and walked out almost half a 10k empty in the pocket.

  3. i love that Cheese Platter...but, do you went there by yourself? why there was only one dessert? didn't you feel lonely to enjoy good food by only yourself?

  4. I went there with another dining companion, but we both had exactly the same courses haha. damn . :(

  5. Otto is the delicious food , thanks for the update.



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