An invite to the Regal in Causeway Bay, the hotel that sits atop everyone’s favourite dumpling joint, Din Tai Fung. On the top floor, commanding great views of Victoria Park, sits the appropriately named Alto 88, their signature Italian restaurant.
For five days this week, 4th- 8th – get in quick – the kitchens are helmed by Anthony Genovese, a French born Italian, if that’s not a contradiction in terms. He has won two Michelin stars while helming Il Pagliaccio in Rome and brings his eclectic and innovative dishes to the Fragrant Harbour.
The 6-course dinner menu is available throughout the whole promotion dinner period at $1,688 per person or $2,416 per person with wine pairings. Two different 4-course lunch menus are available at $688 up per person. It isn’t cheap, but cooking at this level never is. Following Italian dining clichés 101, the dinner followed a crescendo, from a slightly slow start to a first class finish.
An amuse-bouche bought smoked amberjack (yellowtail) with burrata emulsion and citrus. It wasn’t the advertised carpaccio – just a typo – but was a good bite of fish and cream. Incidentally, carpaccio is named after a 15th century Italian painter, Vittore Carpaccio who liked his fish raw. So now you know.
Red Prawn, Sea Floor and Coconut Rice was an intriguing mix of a cube of rice pudding, carpaccio prawns and a sauce made from cranberry and tamarind. It sounded and looked a bit odd but all the elements came together in an unexpectedly harmonious finale as a light way to start:
Octopus and spheres of buffalo mozzarella were paired with tomatoes and a sprinkling of olive powder. Cooked sous vide for four hours, the cephalopod was lifted by the sharp toms while the tiny cheesy balls added occasional starbursts of cream:
Things really ratcheted up with the arrival of of the spaghetti with squid, prosciutto and a bottarga Mascarpone cream. This was a cracking little dish. The bottarga had a different finish than classic Hokkaido uni, but still complimented with its unique hum of the ocean floor.
The final seafood number was some Italian red mullet in a consommé of anise and Porcini mushrooms, delicate and perfumed.
The best was saved to last with a knockout dish of Pyrenées lamb loin, alongside eggplant and more spheres, this time of ricotta. Curiously the lamb came under a sheet of nori, but again it worked as a combination. Genovese explained that the meat was marinated for hours before being gently pan seared. He nailed it with one of the best tastes of lamb I’ve had in Hong Kong.
The lamb also bought the best pairing of the evening in a 2007 Barolo DOCG from Ceretto. Barolo rarely goes wrong and this was no exception with a heap of tannins giving way to distinct cherry finish. Marvellous.
To finish, a clafoutis with dark chocolate sorbet and lemon jam. A clafoutis is normally rammed full of fruit, usually cherries, but I must have missed out as mine was a fruit free zone, but no matter as that sorbet cut through the rich sponge and fruity cubes and gels also joined the party.
It finished alongside another great drop and a bit of a Sardinian mouthful, namely a Nasco Isola di Nuraghi Passito IGT, Angialis 2012, Cantina Argiolas.
31/F, 88 Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
+852 2837 1799 https://www.regalhotel.com/regal-hongkong-hotel/en/restaurants-and-bars/restaurant-Alto88.html