Monday, December 28, 2020

Quick Italian Lunch Feast

The promise of a whole new experience at 208 Duecento Otto got my trekked out of the WFH mode to have lunch in Sheung Wan just the week before Christmas. To be honest, I never took the restaurant too seriously beyond a casual, neighborhood venue for pizza and a beer, but as I found out, they turned out to be much more than that with the modified space and menu. 

I rarely drank before sunset on weekdays but with lunch being the only time one could eat out these days, I broke the rules and started with something from the bar downstairs. The off-menu white negroni was spot-on with two types of white vermouth mixed with equal part of gin with a dash of ginger bitters and lemon garnish. 

We then proceed to the dining room upstairs for a quick but sumptuous meal with everything served family style. Their menu has been revamped recently to include a number of new dishes, following the tradition of Italian regional cuisines using ingredients jetted in fresh from Italy. The Carrozza was my favorite among the few appetizer dishes brought to us. The soft and rich mozzarella was mixed with black truffles and anchovies, wrapped around bread slices, battered in egg wash and bread crumbs, then deep-fried and served straight from the oven. The crunchy, golden crust was perfectly done with the rich cheese melted in the center along with the nice anchovy flavor. It’s served with extra dipping sauce of cauliflower puree and grated black truffle too if you want it extra creamy. I am still craving for that oozy taste at the time of writing. 

The burrata and red prawn is definitely pleasing to the eyes with good ocean flavor to show forth too. The softest Burrata di Andria (made by hand and was flown in fresh a few times a week we were told) was mixed with the equally fresh Sicilian red prawns served raw. It’s such a minimalist dish to showcase just the original flavor of various ingredients. So was the beef tartare with a "crispy egg yolk" and Jerusalem artichokes. 

Both pasta dishes were outstanding – the classic ravioli came in half-moon shape slightly bigger than the regular version with generous stuffing of mascarpone cheese. The rest of preparation was straight forward – boiled, tossed with butter and served with grated black truffles. Second one was the classic Spaghetti Chitarra, served with the "mini meatballs" and ragu sauce, both slow-cooked for the rich flavor and served with shaved Pecorino cheese. 

The steak main course reminded me of those done in Piedmontese style, but instead of the firmer indigenous Fassona beef, Chef went for Australian Mayura wagyu breed which was slightly fattier but still with the nice meaty taste. It’s served with the meat jus gravy on the side but the meat was tasty enough just on its own, seared with just a light sprinkle of salt. And the classic Nebbiolo from Piedmont was just the easiest pairing, a tad lighter in body than its more famous cousins, but with plenty of ripe red fruits and floral aroma, light, refreshing and dangerously additive. 

The other main course of black cod was an interesting one, with the pieces of fillet finished in the oven with tomatoes, capers and herb, and covered with a thin pizza dough so essentially the fish was cooked with the aromatic steam coming from the side ingredients. The fish has the best texture, cooked just right with good aroma coming out as the pizza dough was unwrapped, revealing all the ingredients underneath. 

I insisted on finishing with a dessert despite having to run for a work conference call immediately after, and it’s definitely worth the hassle. Their namesake tiramisu was a twist to the common version with only the mascarpone whipped thick with egg yolks and served with a thin biscuit on top – no ladyfingers nor espresso. It’s heavenly with the purest sweet creamy flavor in each spoonful of the soft custard served in a glass bowl. 

You bet we will be back soon – I reckon it’s a great place to spend a lazy afternoon with rounds of drinks and some serious food (and pizza)

When? December 17 2020
Where? 208 Duecento Otto, 208 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Carozza, Breaded Deep-fried Mozzarella Cheese, Black Truffle, Anchovies, and Cauliflower
Drink? 2016 Figli Luigi Oderro Langhe Nebbiolo DOC

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