Friday, October 12, 2012

Spasso - (Hong Kong)

  Spasso is part of the Divino Group,  and their latest Divino Patio in Wanchai has copped some flaks online during the soft opening stage as the food was slowly developing to reach it’s best.  Friends reporting back from later said the standards there have now stabilized -  I often try to convince my foodie friends that it is unfair to judge a restaurant right from the beginning of opening,  but at the same time restaurants should also try to understand that we pay for our own meals to try out new restaurants about 80% of times and if they can’t accept criticism especially from the loud mouthed food bloggers,  it also doesn’t make much business sense!     Just yesterday,  I was talking to a French pastry chef who mentioned that in Hong Kong,  a lot of kitchen helpers are under-trained by default and in-between making and baking his own stuff he has got to divert his concentration to supervise and train his kitchen day by day.   Everything takes time to materialize!    The new Italian chef Antonio Totaro recently arrived at Spasso inside Harbour City,  with an impressive CV behind him as he has cooked under Don Alfonso and also for many Celebrities internationally.    Tonight is actually my 2nd time trying out some of his dishes,  one meal was by my own visit and the latter meal was by Invitation to try out some new dishes.  


Spasso at Harbour City -
It has an exceptional view over the HK Harbour. 

Some Antipasti and Dessert tables -
They also do Aperitivo Hour here
,  serving a few snacks with your aperitifs and wines.
This is quite rare to find in Hong Kong,  but in Italy,  many flock to these venues serving Aperitivo Hour and eat out at their heart’s content like a buffet!  

Marinated Sardines with lemon -
Saw these on the buffet table,  they looked awesome. 
Pity I didn’t get to try these.


Ferrari Brut Spumante -  as Aperitif
A little fizzy sparkling wine,  this from memory was made from Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco.  It’s dry but not too acidic,  a good balance with an aromatic white’s character and freshness.



Bread Basket -
Grissini sticks were good actually.  The bread seemed a bit generic.


Amuse-bouche of Hokkaido Scallop in Melon Puree -
I thought the melon was a little too sweet.  The scallop however was slippery heavenly and fresh.  ~  6.5/10



Carpaccio of Australian Red Snapper with light lemon sauce, Herbs,  Strawberries & Bubbles
(Behind)  Seared Tuna with Citrus
I liked the snapper with the citrusy and strawberry sauces,  it was really raw fresh and sweet,  a nice crudo dish.    The Seared tuna by HK standards is slightly too dry and perhaps overcooked,  but actually this style is just so Italian -  personally if this is to be grilled to this state on all 4 sides,  I think fatter tuna cuts will work better to suit the local market more?   ~  7/10

Carnaroli risotto with Sicilian Red Prawn, 
Japanese Sea Urchin and Caramelized Orange Peels - 
This is made without butter but with olive oil which makes it drier than average.  This is a Southern Italian style of preparing risotti especially seafood-based dishes,  since stirring in butter and cheese spoils the seafood’s subtle taste.  So don’t expect any creamy Mantecato and wavy All’onda risotto here.   Instead,  it is rich with the crustacean and urchin flavours,  and cooked all al dente with big Carnaroli rice grains.    This was sublime,  and the slightly candied orange peels balanced the richness so well.  Seems like citrus flavours are one of Chef Antonio’s favorites ~   10/10


Banfi Fontanelle Chardonnay 2011 -
From Montalcino,  a famous wine making region at the borders of Tuscany.
Chardonnay is more French in my opinion but Italians themselves are open-minded enough and incorporate the most grape varieties in the world.  They fact they use French grapes in some of their wine blends is testament to this philosophy.  As true wine lovers,  why contain yourself to the DOC & DOCG limitations?   As Chairman Mao in China once said,  any coloured cat is a good cat if it can finally catch the mouse.   Made with Italian passion and flavours,  this had a more warm and rustic family’s vineyard feel to it all..

Tortello of Burrata buffalo stracciatella, Cherry tomato Sauce,  Basil Pesto -
is beautifully folded but rare to find and deviates with tortellini which is smaller in size.  This was filled with a nice mixture of Buffalo ritagli cream & stracciatella cheese strings,  trademarks of a burrata mozzarella.   Nicely done,  just wished I could have 10 of these myself : )  ~  8/10


Tender wild Red Snapper,  Potato Foam, Spinach,  Cocoa Powder and baked Cherry Tomatoes -
The fish was really fresh and tasty but was slightly over-cooked on my plate. Liked the potato foam with choco powder,  which could be stronger.  ~  6.5/10



2009 Gaja Ca'Marcanda Promis by Gaja,  IGT Italy - 
Using a blend of French grapes like Merlot, Syrah and Italian Sangiovese grapes.
This was loved by a lot of people to pair with the following dishes. 


Italian Berkshire Kurobuta pork belly,  48 hours cooked, sautéed Castelluccio lentils, 

Pumpkin puree and Marsala wine sauce -
Black pigs from Italy and acorn fed,  the Chef decided to call these Berkshire Kurobuta because they are more commonly known,  but these batch were sourced from Italy.  Loved the flavour of the overall composition,  kind of thought my piece was mostly fat though. ~  7/10


A Moscato d’Asti for dessert -
More of a ladies' drink with a fresh grape juice sweetness and slightly sparkling.


Monica Belluci’s Rum Baba,  Neapolitan Sflogliatelle and 26 Espresso Gelato -
The baba was moist and strong in rum flavour,  this was very loyal to the original Italian version.
The Sflogliatelle is actually relatable to Conchiglia di Pasta Sfoglia,  which the names are sometimes used interchangeably and shaped like a Shellfish.   The version here as I enquired with the owner and chef,  was more shaped like a Lobster Tail which is American-Italian influenced,  but here was authentically filled with traditional ricotta cheese and zest.  Hard to find a Lobster Tail,  Conghiglia or Sflogliatelle in Hong Kong but this is one of my favourite desserts!  ~  9/10


Ammazza Espresso with Castuccini -
This was actually quite Southern Italian in taste and body and roastiness and accuracy.
Seems like someone here has expectations about Italian caffe..


Some Digestivi to finish the night -
Chef Antonio has created some dishes which are very Italian in spirit here, despite some dishes which were modernized or American-Italian influenced or citrus made multiple appearances.. In fact,  the whole meal was started with the right spunmante aperitif,  then ended with espressi and digestivi with a well planned dining course,  even the seafood risotto was cooked butter-less as it should.  Some people overlook these finer details,  but Italian food has always been about the warmth and simple rustic flavours.   You could feel the passion by the kitchen.   If you expect modern Italian recipes carrying haute cuisine surprises,   Spasso isn’t really about that.  I find that it is actually difficult to be a blogger nowadays and blog accurately -  you hear people complain about Ramens having floating fats in Hong Kong,  but have they eaten in Japan or dishes in Italy to cross compare and know what is traditional and what are new developing trends?  As a blogger, we have the responsibility to blog responsibly and not let our subjective preferences over-ride the truth?




Price:  $500-600 Per Person   (This meal was by Invitation.  My other self-paid meal will be added soon when I get time around it)
Ease of Access:   4/5  (Inside Harbour City,  the largest Shopping Mall in Hong Kong)


Opening Hours:
Mon to Sun -    12:00pm – 12:00am
Address: 尖沙咀廣東道17號海港城海洋中心4樓403號舖
Shop 403, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, 17 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Ph: 2730 8027

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