Isono Eatery & Bar is the more casual arm of VASCO Fine Dining upstairs, which was one of the new openings which I was rarely and truly satisfied with overall and finally reflecting the high quality fine Dining restaurants one expects to find when eating at the Michelin starred Basque Country restaurants in Spain. Downstairs here, the menu is also interesting as you will discover rarer items to find elsewhere, such as Bluefin Tuna Cheek or a Tuna cut served on the Bone, also surprisingly a medley of both Italian and Spanish dishes.. This latter bit fascinated me a lot – because in reality when I travelled in Spain, you notice a lot of Italian and in particularly Roman recipes on the menus just written in Spanish. So in this sense, I shouldn’t be shocked to find a Carbonara printed on this menu. Europe has always been transitional across borders back in the days..
The very Cool Menu and the Bar setting -
Upstairs at VASCO it’s more about comfy sofas.
Here downstairs, it is more about wooden communal tables.
People are open to Sitting next to Strangers -
Communal Concept wasn’t popular a few years ago, as locals prefer privacy. This is changing ever so slightly, thanks to places like ISONO and PMQ area.
A Cocktail to start off with -
It was good but the presentation was a little plain..
Assorted Charcuterie Board (Large) – $380
With Spanish Peta Negra Jamon ham, Lomito loin and Salami. Pretty good selection visually. Actually by HK standards this was pretty good, but I have just been called a Food Snob by someone online this week and I totally admit it I still think eating these in Spain or even in Amsterdam is better with the flavours but I totally mean it, and I am pretty certain it’s not physiological or psychological. Same goes with Truffles, which always lose their flavours a fair bit after flying usually. ~ 7.5/10
Beef Tartar with Truffle Mayonnaise and Organic Egg – $130
The HKE Food snob appears again, and yes, a lot of beef tartar in HK are somehow tasteless or carries an inappropriate seasoning and sauce, sometimes too sour or spicy, or too grinded up like how Parisians usually eat them. The balance is always just a bit off here, and it applies to even restaurants using French Charolais beef or Italian Piedmontese Fessona beef. The version here was actually quite memorable in a good way, despite not much herbs it had some good beef taste. Other places I found a good tartar locally were at La Cabane du Bistro, Bouchon Bistro Francais, Le Winebeast Bistro and Nicholini’s with the fried Egg Yolk. This one here was right up there, but not as good as the best I have had in Paris and Italy yet but personally my 1st pick of the crop in HK. It was good enough in local context I will come back just for this dish myself. ~ 8/10
Smoked Iberico Pork Belly, Chicken & Artichoke Paella – $380
Normally Spanish places pride themselves on Seafood Paellas, but nope here, at ISONO it’s the Meat paella which is apparently the Signature dish somehow. Am glad I was convinced to order this version in the end, this was fabulously done and that perfectly roasted chicken and smoked Iberico pork (which wasn’t that smokey but still good). This was a really memorable dish I wished I could lick more of it off my dish. No one usually pushes their Meat Paellas like here. ~ 10/10
Grilled Asparagus Side – $70
Why was it so sour? Too much Balsamic Vinegar ..
Grilled Blue Fin Tuna Steak on the Bone - Large $590
I was so looking forward to this as a food concept, but I think it was a little overcooked and frankly, may be I am a Chineso Chinese, I just want my tuna to be barely seared. It tasted good mind you but it has lost some of it’s oiliness flavour for me during the process of cooking. ~ 6/10
Mancini Spaghetti Carbonara with Guanciale - $245 Large
Said to be trained and emulating the best Carbonara in the world from Rome, it has only got to be il Forno Roscioli, which I went last year. This version had more runny eggs and less cheese and less black pepper, but the guanciale pork jowl were accurate and traditional. Always happy to see a real Lazio/Roman Carbonara in town ! It just needed more cheese ~ 7.5/10
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberry – $85
I am not Fuck Yeah Nom, one of the coolest blogs in HK nowadays, but I personally think Panna Cotta’s only exist on the menu because servicing and pre-Preparing them doesn’t require much time so it’s proven to be quite fail safe. The one here was blah blah blah… You already expected what I was going to say next so skip it it was just ok if not too gelatinous ~ 7/10
Piedmontese Hazelnut Creme Brulee – $85
Another one of their Signature desserts here, this was done precisely well. Actually I loved their overall concepts here, although may be I wasn’t too satisfied with the above Bone in Tuna fish and also perhaps the Carbonara, which was better in recipe than in execution this time. But overall I like here more than you would think from what I posted above with its unique concepts and no pretentiousness. Yet at their pricing point, I suddenly realised VASCO Fine Dining above for only a few hundreds more can give you more for the deal and at a different culinary level? Both are good it just depends on what you yearn for deep in your heart in the end. And why isn’t Tuna Bone Marrow dish served above at VASCO, and only occasionally here? If they already carry Basque style Kokotxa fish cheek anyway. So hard to decide which side to dine at.
Price: $545 + 10% Per Person
Food: ♕♕♕♕ to ♕♕♕♕ 1/2
Address: Vasco, 6/F, Block B, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Hong Kong
Ph: +852 2156 0888