Hong Kong has long been a truly international location for foodies and it is here that the first and only Italian restaurant outside Italy to achieve three Michelin stars – for six consecutive years, no less – can be found in the heart of Central.
8½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA is the recognised bastion in Hong Kong for Italian food, which is hardly surprising considering the executive chef and owner is Chef Umberto Bombana.
Hailed as “The King of White Truffles” and known as the most Italian ambassador that Italy might have, Bombana, a native of Bergamo in northern Italy, has never forgotten his roots, a fact reflected in his respect for honest food, outstanding produce and the attention paid to his customers.
Notwithstanding his adoration of simple Italian food, throughout his career he has been constantly motivated to innovate, create and explore all the possibilities without losing the identity of traditional Italian cuisine.
A smart, modern restaurant with an outstanding wine cellar and airy ambience, 8½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA provides an enviable setting for the maestro’s culinary offerings. The main dining room seats 55, while there are two elegant, cosy private dining rooms each seating 12.
Using only the highest quality and freshest produce, in Chef Bomana’s hands the flavours of Italy are exceptional. The plating is modern, clean and attractive, but the real mastery is in the perfect melding and balance of the ingredients to create dishes that look deceptively homely and simple, but somehow never taste like that at home.
One of his signature dishes, baby lamb from the Pyrénées with aromatic herbs, black olive, barley and vegetables, is a classic example of one such dish. A combination perhaps best known as a rich hearty stew, at 8½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA the baby lamb is served two ways, pink and with a little jus, alongside the luscious barley and vegetables, with a scattering of lightly cooked asparagus and broccoli.
As expected, the succulent lamb melts in your mouth and tastes sublime with the barley, giving the traditional flavours in the most enticing manner. Accompanied by a good Italian red from the cellar, this dish is one that lingers in the memory and tempts you back to the restaurant in the coming months just to be sure it really was that good.
For dessert, the classic warm ricotta tart with pistachio, candied orange and ricotta gelato is definitely one to try. The presentation of this classic dish is clean and simple, the warm tart on one side, with lines of candied fruit acting as the divider from the ricotta gelato. The creamy tart, intense taste of the candied fruit and cold creamy gelato are a match made in heaven – again reimagining the traditional flavours of Italy but showcasing them with an innovative, modern presentation.
Another traditional Italian feature is the ageing cellar and its stock of world-class hams and cheeses. For the complete Italian culinary experience ask for an assorted platter and pick a bottle of wine from one of the 2,000 in the restaurant’s walk-in cellar.
8½ Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA was named number four in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2017 and Diners Club® has just awarded Chef Bombana its Lifetime Achievement Award, a tremendous accolade recognising his exceptional contributions to the culinary world.