They have the accolade of being the only Italian restaurant outside of Italy to get the Michelin 3 Star honour. Umberto Bombana could be easily be the first celebrity Italian chef from Hong Kong.
The name of the restaurant is a direct reference to Federico Fellini’s 1963 biographical movie classic. Everything they do here oozes Italian charm and passion. Ingredients are the best available and the cooking showcases their true flavours.
Like the film director, Umberto Bombana is a maestro of his art. Bombana trained under Ezio Santin. He worked at Toscana at the Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong from 1993. His culinary style is to bring out the flavours of the ingredients, so there isn’t too much embellishment on the main ingredient. Bombana has been hailed “The King of White Truffles”, and has been the international ambassador for Alba truffles since 2010.
He was a prime mover in introducing the white truffle to Hong Kong’s restaurant scene and he introduced the World White Truffle of Alba Auction to Hong Kong. In 2006, Bombana was appointed by Piedmontese Regional Enoteca Cavour as their International White Truffle Ambassador.
The Lunch Set
The lunch menu is a great way to enjoy the 3 Star establishment without paying through your nose. The 3- or 4-course lunch menu can be had for less than HKD 1080++ (HKD780++ for 3-course) at this visit.
Daily bread – trio of milk breadstick (grissini), tomato focaccia and savoury crisp bread
Marchesi di San Giuliano Estate [from the eastern coast of Sicily] is a lighter extra virgin olive oil perfect for dipping your fresh bread, or to cook fish with. Coupled with Acetaia Malpighi balsamico, that’s a great dip for the breadstick.
First, up the amuse bouche of heirloom tomatoes, tomato emulsion, burrata cheese. The tomatoes are really sweet, one wonder if they have been preprocessed. But the defining touch is the burrata cheese that provided the savoury, creamy taste profile that is so necessary with the sweet tomatoes. The amuse bouche sets the tone of the lunch – carefully chosen ingredients with the least adulteration.
Scampi tartare, caviar, shaved fennel and citrus dressing
Seared Hokkaido scallops, sweet peas, tomato water shellfish sauce, sea urchin is a dish full of the best of the sea. Umami from the sea urchin (two small little pieces) is nicely coupled with the sweet scallops made even better with quick searing on both sides. The emulsion made from tomato (and shellfish?) is a bit out of whack, could do with a dob of cream or sherry.
In the middle of the appetiser course, a fresh plate of multigrain sourdough was served. The warm and fluffy bread was so fragrant that we couldn’t help to have a slice despite knowing the next course a pasta.
The pastas are a main draw in Bombana, homemade in store and cooked to perfection. Many Asian (especially the Chinese) are not familiar with the al dente texture of Italian pastas. They are slightly chewy and still have the bite. So you might want to ask them to cook the pasta slightly overdone.
Tuna linguine, olives, hot pepper, lemon, capers and aromatic herbs
Very light summer pasta, tangy and slightly spicy.
Homemade tagliatelle, veal shank and belly ragout, endive and mushroom
This is similar to a bolognese, but with the introduction of sun-dried tomatoes and the bitter endives, the whole taste profile has been altered. Very complex and multi-dimensional, you get bits of the smokiness from sun-dried tomatoes and the bitterness from the chopped endives.
Wagyu beef sirloin “Tagliata”, braised beef cheek, radicchio and whipped potato
Roasted black cod, broccolini emulsion, orange anchovy dressing
Lime tart with citrus salad and clementine sorbet
Hazelnut and chocolate, hazelnut crunch, warm chocolate mousse and hazelnut gelato comes with 3 different forms of hazelnut with dark chocolate. The centrepiece is a hazelnut tart in a chocolate tart shell. The hazelnut crunch reminds one of a Ferrero Roche without the hazelnut in the middle. The gelato is placed on a bed of chocolate granite. The chocolate mousse is made of dark chocolate so the overall dessert is not just one dimensional.
Petit fours – almond nougat, chocolate coconut tart – The almond nougat is chewy and not too sweet and is very milky. The chocolate tartlet is sprinkled with coconut shavings to give it a bit of crunch.
All meals come with a coffee that comes with a selection of chocolate truffle.
8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana
Shop 202, Landmark Alexandra, 18 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong
Tel : +852 2537 8859
Date Visited : Mar 2018
Michelin Hong Kong and Macau 2 Star 2010, 3 Star 2011-2019