Saturday, May 19, 2007

aspasia


always look forward to trying out this "new" italian restaurant, especially good ones are few and far between in hongkong. either they are all too presumptuous, or getting cliche already. i know this is not a particular new restaurant per se, but hey, if we haven't tried it it's new to us.

this evening, we picked the tasting menu, which comes with appetizer, pasta, choice of main dishes (2 selections) and dessert. it's such an obvious choice that we didn't even take a glance at the a la carte menu.

amuse bouche is a green pea soup with white asparagus foam - very light but tasteful. many previous reviews commented on the grissini served with test tubes of dippings - chickpeas, sweet bell peppers and cucumber - well put it this way, i do give marks for its innovativeness. plus the bread is great - it's a huge farmer's bread and i ended up finishing half. sigh - definitely not the way to start losing weight.

next came appetizer, scallops with foie gras and grilled pumpkin. the sweet pumpkin does match well with scallops and foie gras - good idea. squid-ink spaghetti with seafood, our pasta course, is definitely the highlight of the evening. texture's just good, and it came in such abundance - perfect for a squid-ink pasta lover like me.

there are 2 choices for main course - a braised wagyu beef with chantelle mushrooms and red-wine sauce, and sea bass in "aspasia style". we both picked the beef. well, nothing really wrong with the beef, but i guess it's either not enouch sauce on the side, or the sauce is not strong enough to accompany the beef. i like the polenta side though. or perhaps we still had those squid-ink taste in our mouth that sorta disrupted the course. seems like i never had a decent wagyu beef in any restaurant in town - better off doing it at home. in retrospect, perhaps sea bass would have been a better choice.

dessert's a cherry napoleon with home-made sweet corn icecream. pleasant surprise - and gave me idea for the next round of home-made icecream.

service's consistant and attentive, and the wine menu has okay selection across the usual regions and detailed description on each wine. that sort of compensated the lack of sommelier in its wait-staff. the wine we picked, on their recommendation, is too light and closed for our dishes, despite a decent nose. ah... now i know and will never pick an italian pinot noir again, nor trust any sommelier-wannabe. a barolo or sangiovese would have been a much safer choice.

anyway, i would say it's a casual fine-dining place and reasonably priced ($588 pp for the menu), and we were told that the tasting menu changes every 2 weeks with seasonal choices. this is definitely a place that we will return - hopefully fairly soon, not only for special occasions but for those random nights that i crave for a simple, casual italian supper.

details:
when? may 18 2007
where? aspasia
occasion? wife's birthday (hey, happy birthday again!)
menu highlights? squid-ink spaghetti
drinks? torti pinot nero 2003

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