Monday, February 20, 2017

A Well-deserved Recognition

The week already went off to a good start when I attended the celebration dinner reception at Otto e Mezzo Bombana on Monday evening, when Chef Bombana shared the joy with us for winning the “Lifetime Achievement Award” given by the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants team this year.

Of course, Chef Bombana needs no further introduction, gaining his fame for serving fne Italian cuisine in Asia first through Toscana of the former Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong then later on, at his half-namesake restaurant in Landmark, which was voted Asia’s 50 Best, the 3 Michelin stars, so on and so forth. So I guess it’s just icing on the cake when he was honored with the latest award.

It’s been a while since I last returned to the restaurant, but I had little doubt we were in for a real treat given the dinner function was organized in his honor. And given the constraints in delivering the dishes at the same time to 100-odd eager diners at presence, I think the kitchen did a marvelous job – from the amuse-bouche of purple potato emulsion with root vegetables and black truffles to the petit fours snacks at the very end of our meal.

A few dishes particularly stood out this evening. The abalone confit carpaccio was an interesting one, combining abalone, more of an Asian ingredient, with the Italian preparation of carpaccio with small dabs of sweet pepper and semi-dried tomato, drizzled with olive oil and topped with oscietra caviar in each piece. It’s very enjoyable with this unique texture and flavor combination.

The burrata ravioli went back to the traditional Italian cooking, with the triangular-shaped ravioli with creamy burrata filling, combined with the tangy cherry tomato sauce, topped with dried tomato and black olives, with zucchini compote underneath. It was well-balanced with the acidity and sweetness combined with the light aroma of basil. Again, a well thought pasta dish for an occasion like this.

The duck was my favorite course of the evening. The thick slice of challans duck breast was seared medium-rare with a slightly crispy skin and served with a small piece of seared foie gras on the side, along with spiced pear and apple slices. Nothing innovative about the cooking nor the combination of ingredients – it’s classic really – but perfectly executed, as we expected no less from the best Italian restaurant and chef in town. And turned out the wine pairing was also my top choice tonight – with the Etna Rosso from medium altitude with rounded notes of cherry and smokiness, chewy tannins and full of energy til finish.

To many, the name Chef Umberto Bombana is synonymous to truffles, with his tireless effort in promoting his hometown treasured ingredient in this part of the region including playing host of the famous white truffles auction held every year simultaneously in Hong Kong and Alba to much fanfare. And of course, given this is HIS evening, we expected truffles to play an important part of our menu. Well white truffles season is long gone, so we were given a treat of the winter black truffles, dubbed the “Black Diamond”. We had a taste of that in our amuse bouche at the beginning of the meal, and the main attraction tonight was the beef tenderloin served with shaving of black truffles done by Chef Bombana himself in front of every table.

The Piedmontese Fassone veal – tenderloin served in medallion shape, dipped in a light batter and baked (I think?) - was super tender which required no effort in cutting through and the more-than-generous truffles added to the earthiness flavor along with the sautéed vegetables and jus underneath. It worked perfectly well with the Brunello pairing from a wonderful vintage. Medium body with ripe red fruit on the palate and lovely tannins.

We were served yet another truffle dish at the end – the gelato with Crème Chantilly, puff pastry croutons, toasted hazelnuts and pistachio, and of course, plenty of black truffles on top (almost covering the entire gelato quenelle). No wonder my friend A sitting at the next table commented they have probably "truffled out" for this year with just this one meal. Ha ha.

"Shouldn't someone receiving an 'Lifetime achievement award' be a little hmm... older?" whispered someone (who shalt remain nameless) as Chef Bombana was making his thank-you speech at the beginning of the reception. Well, this might be true in most cases, but for Chef Bombana, I think everyone in the room would agree that was a well-deserved recognition, for what he has done both in the kitchen and outside. I was grateful to have some of the most amazing meals here in the past, and have the opportunity to celebrate with the man himself on this evening with such fine display of Italian cuisine right in our city, and look forward to more of his food (and truffles) for the years to come.

More pictures on my Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72157680216992006

When? February 13 2017
Where? Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Shop 202, Landmark Alexandra, 18 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Challans Duck with Foie Gras and Spiced Organic Pear
Drinks?
Mattia Vezzoloa, Costaripa Brut NV
2015 Cantine Argiolas "Meri" Vermentino di Sardegna DOC
2014 Fattoria La Monacesca Mirum, Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva DOCG
2012 Duemani 'Cifra' Costa Toscana IGT
2011 Pietradolce Archineri Etna Rosso DOC
2009 Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
2014 Tasca d'Almerita Malvasia Capofaro Salina IGT
Web:
Otto e Mezzo Bombana Hong Kong: www.ottoemezzobombana.com/hong-kong/en/homepage/
Asia's 50 Best Restaurants: www.theworlds50best.com/asia/en/

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