Sunday, February 12, 2012

Fiat Caffe (Hong Kong)–♕♕♕♕ 1/2

  Fiat Caffe is part of the Swire group and the East Hotel restaurants,  which in itself is already a sign of guarantee according to my past experiences.   I arrived here thinking it was just a coffee tasting session but probably became a little lost in the end,   when I came in to find some other well-known local celebrity TV presenters,  renowned food critics and other weibo foodies before me.  I wasn’t even dressed up to the occasion woops,  but perhaps my initial expectations did not entirely reflect what we were about to encounter here.   This Caffe, Italian for café, is definitely one of it’s kind in it’s local context.  Despite some repetitive elements in the food it will definitely freshen up the Café/Caffé scene in Hong Kong..   Today is going to be it’s 1st official opening day,  and I will certainly be coming back before the crowd arrives and the secret is let out.   It really is that good and a truly modernised Italian experience.  A 2nd visit’s food review has also been updated here and the final score has been re-adjusted to reflect the most recent score..  


The Fiat Car Showroom includes an Italian Caffé on the side -
The original Italian spelling for a Café or simply a coffee, 
as I have been trying to convey across for the nth time,  unless you’re French or !




The Menu is quite Italian indeed,  GREAT!
I don’t mind pseudo-Italian stuff but at least pleast advertise it properly,
or like here at Fiat Caffe -  try to be re-enact a proper one!  : )



Chef David from the East Hotel group,
Overlooking the operation.    He has his own knack for interesting food and recipes…




La Marzocco FB/80 2 Group in Ferrari Red colour -
A nice enough espresso machine,  but in today’s coffee world: 
it is all about Slayers,  Synesso 2011 spec Hydra’s,  La Marzocco Strada EP specs, etc.



Imported Ferrarini Parma Ham and Modena Balsamico Vinegar -
The real deal



Italian Squash -
This is made of Mint, Lemon and Soda,  a refreshing drink without alcohol.





Antipasti -
With Olives, Tomatoes,  Artichokes and Peppers stuffed with Ricotta drizzled with a nice Olive Oil.
This is a simple antipasti platter but done really well here ~   9/10



Some Gavi di Gavi wine,
to Start off the Night -





Milano Salami and Ferrarini Prosciutto Cotto -
With a bit of gherkins, caperberries and arugula.   A really nice antipasti platter. 
Some people love the more ‘cured’ dried ham but I like them a little fresher for taste,  and the salume were sliced to the ideal thickness today.   ~   8/10




Callipo Tuna in Olive Oil,  Boiled Egg,  Caper Mayonnaise,  Lemon and Dill  –
I really liked this dish.  It’s all about personal preferences!  The cooked tuna was less briny than expected which means it retained a good tuna taste without being canned in performance but more dry.  The well-tuned sauce with the eggs were so correctly Mediterranean,  I really did marveled at how well this dish did resemble its original intents in taste ~  9/10



Torino’s Anchovies with Fresh Lemon and Bread -
These fillets were quite fresh tasting and only semi-cured,  and the only place in HK that I am aware of importing them.   In Spanish terms,  these are the Boquerones vs Anchoas variety,  both have their own sternest supporters.   I love both but these ones were truly addictive and fresh,  kudos to the kitchen for introducing them to the HK food scene.   ~   9/10

Italian Smoked and Dried Tuna Carpaccio with Lemon and Olive Oil -
As another foodie mentioned,  a lot of Italian food hardly deviates from a central core theme and there are only macro-differences between one plate and another.  Take for example this fish dish which also came with caperberries,  basil, lemon, olive oil and dill,  just like a few dishes above.   The difference lies in the central ingredient which is a dry and smoked tuna which is again a novelty in Hong Kong.   All this from a Caffe shop?   Relatively impressive indeed ~   8/10




Mixed Arugula Salad with Tomatoes and Parmesan Flakes -
Simple,  but fresh and executed well here.   Decent..




Ricotta with Figs,  White Truffle Honey and Olive Oil -
This arrived with an exotic truffle aroma but in the nose it was mostly Black Truffle oil rather than White Truffle essence,  surprising when checking it later on.   The ricotta were of the softer milky type than the norm and powdery,  though the figs were just great.   This was great in its taste although for me personally,  a little too SWEET in the overall compositional balance.  Loved the figs though..   *Excuse the Food Snob*  ~  6.9/10




Buffalo Mozzarella Tomato Salad with Basil and Olive Oil -
This is just like any Caprese out there.  I could say fullstop,  let’s move on.  But for some unknown reason many shops can’t get their ingredients right especially their mozzarella di bufala.   The one here was exceptionally fresh and one of the best I have tried in Hong Kong.  Let’s hope this isn’t a once off experience.   ~   9/10



Fried Pancetta,  Stewed Tomato, Fried Egg and Truffle -
Taste wise it was ok indeed.  The fried pancetta were smaller than expected,  but it was the fried eggs which were a little unexpected as it was a bit solid white at the edges,  a bit boring.  The truffle taste wasn’t exactly spectacular either and too benign … yawn   ~  6.5/10




Sardinian Sardines, Tomato Sugo & House Made Capers Mayonnaise Sauce on Bruschetta -
This was an exceptional dish.  Despite the appearance of dill and lemon on seafood for the Nth time,  this still managed to impress especially with the 2 sauces served in the original tin.   HK People are too used to thinking canned food as inferior,  but in France and Spain,  this delicacy was once confined to superior confit and cured food served to Royal Families.   This dish was easily one of my dish of the night in performance,  got to try it to believe how great it was despite the simplicity ~   8/10




Prosciutto ,  Dried Tomato,  Arugula and Parmesan Bruschetta -
Like the Antipasto plate above,  I tremendously enjoyed this semi-cured and not too dry-aged Parma ham,  as it suits its purpose without being too overly cured, dried and salty,  which otherwise goes better with aged red wines.   The ham served here was of exceptional quality versus its intents,  not so sure others will agree with me as I might have my own interpretation on this!     ~   9/10




Black Truffle Paste with Grilled Fontina Cheese, Grated Black Truffle & Bruschetta -
This was doubly truffled with paste and shaved bites, and the Fontina cheese was perfect with the truffled taste.  Another perfectionist foodie said I didn’t divide this up properly into the 8 individual portions properly with equal amounts of truffles haha,  sorry for the mishap.  Smile with tongue out  I already tried to divide them up as cleanly as possible,  although I could eat the whole thing by myself !   ~   8/10


Salami,  Tomato & Pesto Panino -
Panini is plural, whilst a Panino is grammatically singular.  Let me just get that out of the way since mis-marketing has imprinted the wrong fact to too many people to the extent I have had to explain myself every time I say Panino, much like my argument with Caffe vs Café.   It’s like – I don’t care anymore, really.. hmm.  This was actually really great and although totally expected to be found in an International City such as Hong Kong,  this was the 1st shop I have visited which provided one up to standard.  Totally addictive and I wish they have an outlet nearer Central for lunch.   Onto a winner here  ~   10/10




Ham,  Cheese and Tomato Panino -
Yes Panino,  not Panini.   Got that yet?   This was served with a micro-difference as that shaved ham and thicker cowy cheese was lovable.   It is strange how many years it took for this panino to arrive in the local food scene, when it should have been like this all along…   ~  8/10




A Chianti Red Wine being Served -
For the following courses. 
Sweetish for a Sangiovese based Chianti wine.  Decent.





A Chianti on another night..



Polpette and Fresh Tomato Sugo, Fresh Cut Herbs and Riso Pasta -
This is their Signature pasta dish.  The meatballs were chunky and meaty,  which is different from the pillowy type whichever you choose to prefer.  The sugo sauce was tomato-ey but lacked herbs influence to make it truly Italian,  but it was not that far off.  The Riso pasta is deliberately made to resemble rice grains.   Another foodie found out that these are meant to be less heavy and usually put into soups,  but in this instance it worked particularly well indeed instead of true risotto rice.   ~  7/10




Riso Pasta -
It means Rice in Italian but it is a wheat based pasta that looks like rice,  also found in France as Orzo Pasta.   A little overcooked,  but still decent.




Penne Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Pancetta and Cream -
Again this was a little overcooked beyond al dente,  but the sauce with pancetta bacon and cream was decent, albeit under-seasoned.   A tinge of salt added helped to alleviate the problem!   I personally thought the mushrooms and pancetta flavours were a little too weak,  and the penne a little too soft.   The portion however was on the generous side.   Getting there   ~   6.5/10





Spaghetti with Italian XO Sauce with Fried Prawns -
This XO sauce was said to be made with chilli, Italian anchovies,  ham, etc.  But in the end it was barely detectable and a little too oily,  sorry to say the truth.   The Spaghetti was more like a Linguine and  a little too broken in strands.   On the positive side -  the prawns were really crunchy and fresh.   The bottom of the pasta dish was more tasty albeit more oily at the same time.  ~  6.5/10




Braise Fennel with Bean and Tomato’s Stew -
This was good but getting a bit repetitive with the tomatoes scheme by now.
Italian food can be mostly herbal and tomatoes based depending, on the region.  This was good on its own but getting a little repetitive for the night.  AddEmoticons00119  ~  7/10




Spaghetti Pasta with Duck, Tomato -
The tomato base sauce was more spicy than expected,  and the overall dish a little smoky.  There is clearly too much tomato ‘pomodori’ based dishes,  it is getting a little repetitive…   ~  6/10



Chocolate Cake with Apple Raisin Compote -
The chocolate cake came as a 2 layered cake which was moist and great,  dusted with powdered sugar.  The fruit compote on the side somehow reminded me of Apple Strudel and syrupy.   ~  7/10




Ricotta, Stewed Pear in Cinnamon Syrup,  Almond and Honey -
I had a problem with this,  since the pear was a little sour and didn’t exactly work with the ricotta cheese.  And for once there wasn’t enough honey sweetness to balance it all.   This to me was more like a breakfast dish than a dessert.  Getting there  ~   6.5/10




Affogato made with Illy Crema -
Instead of Gelato,  this was a coffee and chocolate based ‘drink’ topped with icy Illy Crema Granita.  The top powdery chocolate layer is different from the bottom French chocolate base,  but it was the icy coffee cream granita which made it interesting,  albeit a little sweetish.   Totally recommended for those who want a chocolatey-coffee like,  dessert drink.  ~  7/10    They also serve a separate Affogato-Tiramisu dessert here using a Disaronno Almond & Apricot taste liquer. 




Espresso by Illy -
An Over-extracted Lungo by any measure and becoming too thin,
this was bitterly extracted and not very enjoyable…   Quite disappointed indeed but coffee is a sensitive thing indeed.     ~  2/10



Interesting Menu with an Abarth Fiat included with an Espresso for $799,888,  haha - 
I might just buy one,  if it can beat a 2011 Mini Cooper S in a drag…
Overall this Caffe was quite impressive in some ways except for the coffee right now,
and I am glad that Hong Kong is such an improving city by the day.   This might not be perfect on all fronts by now,  but it is probably one of the best caffes in town that we have access to right now and is definitely up to Italian standards if not more!  A caffé is not to be treated as a restaurant afterall.   Smile




Price: Around HKD $200 to $300
Ease of Access: 4/5
Food: ♕♕♕ 1/2 – ♕♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours -
Mon – Sun 11:00 am - 10:00 pm

Address: Shops G5-6, Leighton Center, 77 Leighton Road, Causeway
Ph: 2960 9222


  1. Thanks to your posts, I get some idea from afar what the HK dining scene is like with regards to fine dining Italian. Seems more like a high tend tapas type bar cross between a locanada type eatery (minus the pizza) and a pseudo salumeria (which would be excellent to have in HK). The $799 espresso, at first I thought the coffee was going to be brewed with a car engine, haha. Overall looks really great.

  2. Beef No Guy - I have heard that since the opening the quality has dropped a bit, although in overall concept this is still one of its kind!

    Let me try to see if I could revisit there again tomo after another lunch session. Though I am on a diet right now and am posting blogs a little slower, as I need to re find my concentration in life lately : )

    Won't be posting as regularly lately !! I need to practise my new years resolution and stay offline a bit more :S



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