Seeing Stars: 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana

I went to Otto e Mezzo Bombana for the 3rd time this month, the first was for a quick late dinner with PB. We strolled in at 9.45pm with no reservations, and the manager, Mr. A, kindly let us take a seat for the last order at 10.30pm. My mother then made a lunch booking in advance with no one in particular (seeing that reservations are increasingly difficult to get), anticipating that someone would go with her – that someone ended up (gladly) being me! Finally, we went again for Valentine’s Day lunch on Tuesday (with PB, not my mum). Each time was a well-rounded and tasty experience.

Otto e Mezzo opened in January 2010 and was awarded two Michelin stars within two months. Dare I say that this new rating was perhaps not 100% due to 8 1/2’s magnificence on the global Michelin stage, but also due to the relatively new presence of the Michelin Guide in Hong Kong. But The Guide can give, and The Guide can take – what is more notable is that 8 1/2 has not only kept it’s stars, but collected a third in December 2011, making it the only 3 star Italian restaurant outside of Italy.

The lunch set is $360 for a starter and a main. It’s not the most affordable lunch on the block but hey, for a 3-star lunch, it’s a bargain! You can add an extra $80 for a glass of red or white, and/or $70 for a dessert, there are 3 choices for each course.

The bread basket: tomato focaccia, sour dough, olive bread and my personal favorite, the salty crisp bread.
Starter: Taiyouren organic egg with cauliflower emulsion and roasted herb bread.

I ordered this starter for my first lunch, and I went back to it again the second time – it’s one of my two favorite things on the lunch menu. These taiyouren eggs are from Japan and it’s said that they are favoured by chef Bombana for their sweet yolks, they are slow-cooked at 65 degrees for 45 minutes. The manager joked that it would be a bit difficult to lend me the machine to try it at home – it’s cumbersome and costs a small fortune!

Romanesco Broccoli
The egg is served on a bed of cauliflower emulsion made with romanesco broccoli, (a form of cauliflower, despite the name), made evident by the little grilled florets resting on top. I find this to be one of the most beautiful vegetables out there, and a great example of nature’s wonder with rows of perfect logarithmic spirals.
Artichoke soup with mint and pecorino cheese
This soup, I’m sure, is enjoyed by others. I, on the other hand, have never really had a taste for artichoke. I tried it, and it tasted like…artichoke. If you like it, order it!
“Cotechino” winter sausage, pork cheek, pumpkin.

This dish was gorgeous and the perfect choice for meat lovers. I particularly enjoyed the slow-cooked pork cheek, it melts in your mouth and the flavour is intense. It is nice to have the contrasting flavour and texture of the winter sausage, but I would have been happy with one larger piece of pork cheek too!

Pacific Cod, orange tomato fondue, chives mash. 
A light meal for the fish lovers, the cod was very mild, and the orange and tomato fondue was a nice, tangy accent to the dish.
Homemade pasta with a pesto tomato sauce
Wow, what an explosion of flavour! I’m not going to over-hype this one – a pesto pasta is a pesto pasta. The description on the menu is simple, and to be honest I chose it because I had tried everything else on the menu already! But this is not to be over-looked, the sauce is like a tight-rope walker on a string – perfectly balanced. Really a must-try…but then again, so is everything else on the menu!
Aloe lime granita, passionfruit sorbet and cream cheese
If you go for lunch, please, please save time for dessert!! This is FABULOUS!!! It brought me back to my childhood, licking away at an ice cream cone that was so yummy I was sure it’s what angels ate in heaven (even if it was just Dreyers). This creamy dish is the adult version, and the perfect end to the meal. I’m not going to ruin the surprise by describing this, you’ll just have to go and try it.
As you can see, the menu is very well-balanced to all tastes, and the choice of wines by the glass are very nice indeed, not that I know that much about wine at all, and my descriptions will always be very amateur. One thing I do know is that I liked the choices we made! The Ansitz Waldgries Christian Plattner biodynamic sauvignon blanc was quite sweet, and would have gone well with a shellfish or raw fish.We switched to the Castel del Monte Italian Chardonnay from Puglia – smokey and a good match for the Pacific cod.With the pork cheek, I had the Zanna montepulciano d’abruzzo riserva – a nice light wine, which was perfect for lunch time. I still left the restaurant a little tipsy though!

If you’d like to check out the full wine list, here it is!

One thing that I am still pondering is why Bombana chose to name his restaurant 8 1/2 – after Federico Fellini’s movie with veiled autobiographical references. I haven’t seen the movie but having read some of the critiques, some say it was his greatest masterpiece yet, while others say it was the start of his directorial demise. For Otto e mezzo Bombana, I’m definitely going to go with the former description!

I’ve added it to my list of top three favorite Italians in town, I hope you’ll check it out and love it too.

Otto e Mezzo Bombana
Shop 202, 2/F Alexandra House, 
5-17 Des Voeux Road Central
Reservations: +852 2537 8859


4 thoughts on “Seeing Stars: 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana

  1. Definitely go! The lunch is really worth it! If you ever go for dinner, try the sgroppino – a friend told me about it otherwise I would never have tried it, it's in the drink list. It's a sorbet mixed with prosecco, grappa and limoncello, literally to die for!

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