Tuesday, October 15, 2013

TOSCA (II) - (Hong Kong)

Former Michelin 2 Starred Chef Pino Lavarra from Puglia was appointed as new Head Chef of Tosca inside Ritz Carlton Hotel..   Just in case you might not have been following the whole Ritz Carlton Hotel storyline -  basically when this hotel was still located on Hong Kong Island side before being demolished,  it’s previous Italian restaurant Toscana was rated as the best of it’s genre in Hong Kong.   It’s kitchen back then was headed by none other than celebrated Chef Bombana who is currently cooking at the sole and only Michelin 3* Italian restaurant outside of Italy,   at Hong Kong’s 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo  (Past Reviews are here: 12  and 3) .    Personally I enjoy eating Bombana’s food at 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo but on a personal scale it’s execution is might be great but the recipes aren’t very inspiring,  not jet-setting worthy enough to sustain their 3 Star status.    From enjoying Otto e Mezzo it gradually became more bleak and even hit a major slump when the prices were upped but portions became ridiculously smaller,  the recipes never really changed despite being upgraded to 3* status and the only thing complex about it remained it’s fractional namesake.   In the mean time I have already eaten better meals in Italy to compare it with directly!    It was a dear friend from  Stephs852Diary ’s birthday today – so the curious us decided to come try out TOSCA together.    My last review of TOSCA was at a cooking class by the previous Chef  at TOSCA (I),  and this will be a new beginning for Tosca anyway…  Let’s see if they can snatch back the crown and re-instate TOSCA as the top Italian Restaurant in town!


Breads with Tomato Powder Coated Butter -
These were done fairly well actually,  certainly up to World-wide Michelin expected standards with some aroma and the advertised taste.  Not sure I could taste the tomato powder input in the butter though..   ~  7.5/10





Steamed Asparagus Tips, Burrata Cheese,
Sun-dried Corbarini Tomatoes and Agerola wheat biscuit – $270
Actually,  this arrived a bit different from what we had in mind.   On the upside,  it came with both well-shaved Green and White asparagus,  also some summer truffle shavings and dots of balsamic vinegar.   It looked pretty,   but what we received was more like a small portion of Stracciatella cheese minus the real Burrata shell.   This is a personal pet peeve of mine -  because Stracciatella in Italy is much cheaper and it doesn’t give the right textural contrast I expect from the whole Burrata experience.   For $270 I think I expected more cheese lol    ~  6/10    





Parmesan Panna cotta with Fried Bread,  Mushroom, 
Radicchio and Roasted Pears -  Part of Set Lunch
This surprised me in 2 ways.   It was huge in portion and it also came with Fried Pizza Frittas,  not mentioned on the menu but rather appreciated.   The Parmesan Panna cotta was quite dense and very strongly flavoured.   I ended up being accustomed to it’s taste but the texture remained hardish in the end.   It looked much prettier than it tasted but this time it was huge!.   ~ 7/10


My Online Rival and Birthday Girl from  Stephs852Diary  ordered Caffe Latte -
Our Love-Hate relationship was made more interesting when Caffe Latte came as a Latte Macchiato instead,  pouring in the espresso from top as it arrives!    She said it was decent good enough and gets the approval..


Black Truffle Tagliolini Gratin,  Roasted Corn-Fed Chicken in Cream Sauce -  Set Lunch
The hand-made tagliolini were memorable,  eggy and chewy at once almost by design purpose,   since normal fresh hand-made pasta aren’t as springy.
   The cheesy and creamy sauce was very heavily thick as well,  which is also different from a normal Truffled Tagliolino dish.  The Summer Truffles had a decent aroma.   Overall this dish was enjoyable especially the noodles,  and I can’t help but to think back about the very clean version I ate at il Milione plus other ones I just ate in Europe to compare.   Each to their own.   ~  7.5/10




Conchiglioni,  Semolina & Provolone Cheese Sauce,  Fassone Beef Ragout,  
Pecorino Cheese and Horseradish -  $350
This A La Carte dish was pretty fussy in presentation,  but taste?    Not on the written description was the Tomato Jelly with Olive Oil which was actually fun to eat!   The conchiglioni pasta shells had a lovely filling with a grittiness from the semolina,  but let down by a fairly dry baked external crust and definitely not enough quantity of them..    I actually quite liked the taste of this bar the very dry pasta shell and that side piece of beef was so tender.  Just give me more !!!   ~  6.9/10

Baked Sea Bream with Stewed Celeriac,  Black Bread Fritters, 
Fried White Bait and White Wine Sauce -  Lunch Set
The celeriac base was so resembling the Turnip or Daikon in Chinese/Japanese cooking it was uncanny.   The Sea bream was cooked very well and even crispy on top,  actually I really liked this dish for execution for once.   But not really sure where the celeriac fitted in and there wasn’t much detectable white wine sauce.   The fried white bait was like a Japanese Tatami Iwashi which is fun …  I liked this but couldn’t grasp its no doubt Contemporary Italian concept ??  ~   ?/10


Crème Brulee Cartellette with Pear,  Blackberries,  and Moscato wine Ice Cream -  Lunch Set
The Cartellette didn’t look like the original version and it also wasn’t very bruleed.   8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo also has a dessert weakness,  in fact so does Amber,  but at least the latter looks great!     The Moscato ice cream however was a savior and sweetly winey.   They spelt Steph as Step though despite my instructions,   so we will still wish that she has taking a quantum ‘Step’ forward this year  !!    ~  5/10





Macaron,   Fruit Pate,  Chocolate,  Chocolate,  Chocolate,  and Chocolate -
Made to share,  this looked so pretty but was quite chocolaty towards the last 4 pieces to be part of a thoughtfully balanced course.   Italian Pasticcini spirit was also missing a bit in my opinion…  but the cooking and pastry skills are already there,  so why not fix it?     ~  6.9/10


Dining Space during Day Time -
The food in the meanwhile was Showy and Presented well,   but perhaps we came mixing both lunch dishes together with a la carte dishes or didn’t order all the signature dishes,  though I personally think this is already within Michelin Star vicinity.    But if they want to be sure of getting 2-3 Stars by 2014-2015,  they might have to fine tune the taste side of things.    In fact that was exactly what I predicted about  Tin Lung Heen (I)  within the same hotel before they got elevated up the Michelin Star Ladder gradually by  Tin Lun Heen (II).  It’s making it quite tempting to apply for a job here to be a taste tester and doing QC to make sure they end up receiving their stars ASAP lol!     The Lunch Course was definitely very good value for money for now,  $398 for 3 courses and $448 for 4 courses,  our A La Carte dishes were more on the pricier side. 





Price:   $625 Per Person
Food:  ♕♕♕ 1/2 to ♕♕♕♕♕ 1/2
Ease of Access:  5/5

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sun -   11:00am – 9:30 pm

Address:  尖沙咀柯士甸道西1號, 環球貿易廣場(ICC)香港麗思卡爾頓酒店102樓
102/F, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui,  Hong Kong.
Ph: 2263 2270

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