8½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA | Hong Kong

Rating: ❤❤❤❤

I've been wanting to try 8 1/2 since it's the only Italian restaurant outside of Italy to have received 3 stars from Michelin, so I decided to come here to celebrate my birthday with J. Located in Alexandra House, the restaurant was easy to find and with nice street views of Central. The decor was not fussy as it was simple, chic and classy with a quiet and romantic ambiance. Most of the diners there were couples and I can see why it's a popular place for dates and celebrations. 

For dinner, there was a degustation menu of 5 courses which cost $1380 per person with an additional $780 for wine pairing. A variety of a la carte dishes were available as well with pastas, mains, seafood, black winter truffle and desserts. The good thing at 8 1/2 is that they do not require the whole table to order the tasting menu if one person decides to go for it, so there was more flexibility to try more dishes. We ended up doing just that - I ordered the degustation while J ordered some a la carte dishes to try. 
After ordering, we were given a bread basket which contained a variety of bread like bread sticks and sun-dried tomato bread. They were nice and warm to eat while the olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the table were of high quality as well. Throughout the meal, they kept replenishing our basket with fresh bread so we always had bread on the table, which was a nice touch. 
Before our food arrived, the amuse bouche was brought out first. It was foie gras pate with tomato jelly and a crunchy pastry on top. The textures were all different and worked well against each other while the flavors were light and refreshing. 
A la carte dishes:
Roast Octopus and Roast Artichoke (5/5) - the octopus was amazing! Octopus are hard to perfect in the first place but it was cooked perfectly here as the texture was just right while the flavors were delicious. Topped with some greens and lemon oregano dressing, this dish was a delight to enjoy.

Pappardelle (4/5) - pappardelle is J's favorite pasta so we had to try the one here. Mixed with lamb and mushroom ragout, the pasta was above average but not that impressive either. The pappardelle was cooked just right as it was al dente but I felt the ragout could have used more lamb. There was almost no trace of the gamey taste that one is accustomed to with lamb, which would have enhanced the flavors more. It was still a solid pasta though overall. 

Crab and Calvisius Elite Caviar (3.5/5) - the first course of my degustation was a salad with crab, caviar, parsley gnocchi, greens and tomato jelly. Each of the ingredients were pretty good, but the flavors didn't come together cohesively.

Royal Scampi (4/5) - as I cut into the lobster, I found that it was cooked perfectly was the center was still translucent and raw. Bathed in lobster bisque, the shellfish was enjoyable to eat along with confit purple potato and chanterelle mushroom.
Homemade Tagliolini (4/5) - the presentation of this dish was more impressive than the taste. The black truffle was shaved onto the pasta on the spot, and my eyes grew rounder and rounder as the staff kept shaving more and more until the whole pasta was covered with truffle! The tagliolini was cooked with butter and parmesan only, so the flavors were pretty simple. While the aromas of the pasta was amazing due to the abundant amount of truffle, it didn't do much in terms of enhancing the flavors of the dish. In fact, the truffles were pretty gritty in texture which wasn't all that pleasant to eat in excess. 
Winter Sausage and Beef Cheek (4/5) - both the sausage and beef cheek were very tender and soft while the sauce was a bit rich and heavy. The sides of castelluccio lentil and chanterelle mushroom complimented the dish as well. 
Montebianco (4/5) - my birthday dessert! I'm not a big chestnut fan, but the mont blanc dessert here was well-made with marron ice cream, meringue and chantilly topped with pureed chestnuts. It was not too sweet so it was light to eat to round off my degustation.
Modern Tiramisu (5/5) - J ordered this creative dessert on the a la carte menu where the tiramisu had been deconstructed from its usual form. Made with the usual suspects of mascarpone cream, coffee panna cotta, and mascarpone ice cream, the tiramisu here was exceptional in terms of its flavors and textures!
Finally, the petit fours arrived along with coffee to signify the end of our meal. I was already pretty full at this point, but still nibbled on them. The chocolate and the pastry were alright while the jelly was much too sweet. 

Verdict - the food at 8 1/2 was pretty decent overall in terms of the flavors and quality of ingredients. We felt that the dishes on the a la carte menu was better than the degustation actually. While the food was good, it also wasn't really that impressive compared to other Italian restaurants around the world like Babbo in NYC. Again I'm just stumped by the Michelin rating in HK, but I guess it would be okay if you don't go in with the 3 star expectation. The service was top-notch though as the wait staff was very friendly and knowledgeable of the menu. Every dish was explained thoroughly and we did not feel pressured to order wine or drinks. No singing at the restaurant but I did get a lot of well wishes from the staff and I was glad to have celebrated my birthday here at 8 1/2.

8½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA

Shop 202, 2/F, Alexandra House, 5-17 Des Voeux Road Central, Central
2537 8859 

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