Saturday, October 5, 2013

il Milione - (Hong Kong)

  Chef Marco Gubbiotti from Italy was heading a Michelin 1* rated restaurant back in his Italian home town of Umbria..    Hong Kong foodies might sometimes begin to wonder why an increasing number of well awarded Chefs take a bold decision to come all the way to Asia at the risk of beginning all over again.   May be they are just so accustomed to the thrill of a new challenge ; )    Hong Kong is definitely unique in that it is part of Asia but it’s also only 1 of two places to have the Michelin team watching over your every move,  and as we are more of an English speaking city, whereas Japan in comparison probably also carries much more competition in order for any individual shops to stand out.    I will be the first to give my hats off and thank those Chef teams for having faith in our city and hopefully spoiling Hong Kong with some real world class International food..   I was invited to try out Chef Gubbiotti’s new Tasting Menu and to provide some feedbacks,  let’s see what we ended up thinking of the degustazione menu and wine pairing..



il Milione bar area -
An array of Gin offerings here.   With around 80+ different types. 




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Chicken Liver Pate on Toasts -
I went past Tuscany region not long ago this year and this reminds me so much of the versions there.  Smooth pate but bread was sliced a bit unevenly,  it’s especially noticeable when it’s thin and crusty.  Probably sounding like a snob again!   ~  7/10




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Washed Negroni -
This updated Negroni version had more of a citrusy and grapefruit input than the normal ‘bitters’ like Negroni,  slightly more approachable to drink as a starter.   It is very well balanced and one of the more memorable cocktails I have drank in HK and on an improving course for sure...   ~  9/10




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Home Made Bread Basket -
There is a tomato panino,  squid ink bun, a focaccia and a pork fat roll.   In the side separate basket,  a few more typical Italian breads and grissini styles were offered. You know what it was that we saw and excited us the most and in my mind really separates this from their immediate competitions?  All of the breads were 100% Italian in spirit by design and not just there to look pleasing,  they were made from scratch for a definitive purpose and making an Italian statement!   Even that lightly floral-fragrant, current vintage Olive Oil is sourced from the kitchen team’s home town of Umbria.   Talk about micro-details ..  ~  10/10



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Mineral water from the Italian Alps in the North -
Unexpectedly light and pure,  one can instantly tell that this was unique.  It’s like an Italian version of Evian water just with slightly more minerality.   Soothingly sweet and actually hollow in the mid-palate,  almost by purpose and this part intrigues me a lot,  may be it’s personal.  I know I sound like a tosser raving about waters but this was simply astonishingly clean yet flavourful but also felt so pure.




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Venezia Giulia IGT 2011,  Delfino della Marchesa -
Moderately dry and this is made from Tocai-Friulano,  the same grape that was involved in the confusion with it’s similar named sweet wine Tokaji from Hungary and also Alsace’s Pinot grigio.  But this Italian version is light and fruity.





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Italian “Maremmana Cow” Sirloin Carpaccio,  Tomato Water, 
Poached Quail Egg, Caviar,  Julienned Celery -

With a side of Basil, Cucumber & Tomato sorbet.   It is served without parmesan cheese or green leaves,  letting this specialty long horned Tuscan beef meat to really sing.  The beef flavour was quite pronounced in a grass fed sort of way.  The refreshing sorbet augmented it with again more vegetables essence.   A sensible and very refined carpaccio but I foresee that not many people will come to appreciate it this much.  It was just too well balanced to be true.. : )  ~  9/10




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Pacherhof Gewurztraminer 2010 -
A beautiful bouquet of ripe lychee and floral sweetness,
  but in the mouth had no spiciness I had come to expect,  it is instantly more approachable than a lot of Gewurztraminers grown from the nearby countries.  I really enjoyed this wine because of it’s non-pretentiousness and friendly balance,  with no jagged edges..  Call me simple but I am currently equally sick of over-hyped and over-priced wines.  This to me was spot on for it’s purpose. 




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Umbrian Summer Truffles -
This restaurant really tries to keep track with their Umbrian roots.
  Admirable all the way.




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Colatura di alici di Cetara -
Anchovies oil from Cetara.  This fish oil is similar to the Vietnamese or Thai versions,  and even the Chinese or Japanese do a similar version.   I used to call this historical Italian version a Garum but apparently outside of Rome,  it’s known as Colatura.   Fish oil has always been part of certain Italian cuisines and here they were not being shy in making it happen even in a truffled dish.




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Umbrian Summer Truffle,  House-made Tagliolino,
Colatura Anchovies oil,  Green Beans,
Emulsion of truffles and olive oil  (home made truffle paste) -
I found it excruciatingly hard to blog about this restaurant visit to be frank.  For example,  one can find ready made Truffle pastes on the market.   But at il Milione they decides to care more and went on to make their own 100% truffles pastes emulsion from scratch  -  but I wonder how many people can tell the taste difference and see this extra effort and cost to the restaurant?   The Colatura fish oil added some depth to the dish,  and by chance I have tried  4 different Summer Truffle dishes recently and 2 of them were in France and Italy.   This clean and thoughtful version was actually the most convincing and without any cream and butter.  I can’t wait to try out their clean versions of White Truffle or Winter Truffle pastas   ~  10/10




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Seared Canadian Lobster Tail,  Claw Meat,
Prosciutto Cappeletti pasta,  Thyme and Lobster Bisque.  Asparagus -
I don’t get impressed easily and this recipe sounds so predictable for me.  But guess what?  That proven and likable lobster bisque sauce and lobster meats were done so well tonight and the right herbs definitely helped.  The cappeletti parcels were also cute.   It might not be the most inventive dish in the world but I actually became addicted to it’s overall taste as a package.  Execution always rules over fanciful recipes in my books..  Tasted brilliant and sensible.   ~  9/10




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Di Filippo,  Terre di San Nicola Rosso dell Umbria IGT 2009 -
The wines selected by il Milione have been impressing all night.  It was to my palate predominantly cherries and new french oak -  actually this was so balanced and you know what?   Italian cuisine just begs to have a balanced wine the minute you open them.   I don’t want to wait years or hours for them to breathe to their optimum window…  This was performing at precisely the right time.   I know many wines take time to reach it’s prime window,  but the wines I drank tonight were just spot on for the occasion at the right time.   Impressive feat.     




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Slow Spit Roasted Pigeon stuffed with Pigeon Livers and Heart,
Celeriac puree,  Pigeon Jus reduction,  Pigeon Liver Ravioli, Sauteed Cherries -
This arrived looking with the steel brochette piercing across the deboned pigeon meat.  The stuffed meat inside was sensational,  it was more livery/heart like at the beginning but as we worked towards the bony end more Pigeon meat like.   A real hearty dish and the Pigeon liver pasta parcels under the pigeon with the sauteed cherries was playing safe but working on a micro-scale spread of flavours…   So subtle,  almost more French than Italian in approach.   An Excellent dish.   ~  10/10




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Fresh Peach Sorbet as a Palate Cleanser -
This was so good,  you know that grittiness you find when biting into a seasonal peach?  This was smooth and not too icy granita like.  Absolutely memorable…  ~   10/10




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Dessert -   Passatelli pasta with Hazelnut and Cheese,  Iced Small Apples  Caramelized Pineapple,  Mango sauce,  Passionfruit Sorbet -
The centre of the theme here is the slightly cheesy Passatelli pasta which is made into a dessert dish here.  I really admired this concept and I also know that not everyone will agree,  but this sweet pasta in Italian cuisine was to me even more convincing if it was made more bolder and more cheesy.    ~  8.5/10




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Pasticcini Platter -
  You shouldn’t come visiting here to expect coming away with a wow  -  and to be frank,  I think you will only come away satisfied with your meal here if you already have extensive knowledge about what represents what is the real spirit of Italian cuisines,  coz it is all about micro-tuning the traditional recipes into a finer dining setting.   To me this restaurant and Chef Gubbiotti  has almost no escaping of being re-awarded with a Michelin 1* status by the end of 2013.  It is just so right up there and heartily done..  Will be back myself to try other signature dishes.



Price:   $1100 per Person  + $450 for wine pairing  (Meal was by Invitation thanks)
Ease of Access:  4/5
Food:  ♕♕♕♕ to ♕♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sun  12:00 to 22:30pm
Address : 中環夏愨道10號和記大廈地下16-21號舖
10 Hutchison House,  16-21 Harcourt Road,  Admiralty,  Hong Kong Island
Ph:  +852 2481 1120

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