It is not any news that 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo in Hong Kong is the first and sole Michelin 3 Starred Italian restaurant outside of Italy. I have been here quite a few times and you can find previous reviews such as at here (Review I) and here (Review II), plus some other reviews on other platforms. We came back for lunch 1 day with an overseas visitor from Singapore – and a 2 Course Lunch is now being offered at $420. I won’t call it expensive but bear in mind that for a little extra more, one can get the full amuse bouches courses and a dessert or three at places like Pierre, Petrus, or Caprice. Here, all we received was bread and no desserts. At least some dishes were cooked really well. But 3* really?
Grissini, Bread and Pane Carasau -
These were ok decent, although not exactly Michelin 3* trend setting stuff. In fact when I checked against my past reviews, this seems to have been scaled back in offerings. Eg. (Review I)
Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar -
I never combine them together personally. But I did try them separately, they were both just ok if I am to be frank. The verdict over the years remain exactly the same. Olive oil is ok, Balsamic vinegar is kind of thin watery and acidic, which is uncommon to find in HK or even Italy ~ 6/10
White Asparagus with 24 months Culatello di Zibello ‘Oro Spigaroli’ Ham,
Citrus Dressing -
The White Asparagus was cooked well, it had better be. The Culatello ham is one of my favorites despite being cured not bone-in, and this version was very potent and gamey. My dining companion didn’t like it but I was ok, the side citrusy juice was almost like a Hollandaise sauce. Overall this is not bad but for a Michelin 3* lunch - I can cook better at home. Do you agree? ~ 7/10
Soup of Fava Bean, Green Pea, Asparagus, Zucchini, Spinach & Parsley Emulsion -
This was so suitable for Spring. The soup was viscous and had a lot of different vegetables taste, the slightly milky parsley emulsion foam brings to it a 2nd dimension. The pureed soup was filtered properly so it was smooth and not grainy. Whilst I really liked this soup, I can’t help but think that this is more about execution than anything once again. I mean, I know 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo didn’t credit themselves with the Michelin 3* status automatically. But this was at most 1* quality to me, so don’t blame the chef, blame the Michelin tire guy I suppose for exaggerating. ~ 7.5/10
Fresh Tagliatelle, Mazzancolla Prawn with Broccoli, Tomato & Hot Peppers -
Actually I have had this before if you check my previous reviews, the Mazzancolla prawn is super sweet and prized alongside the prestigious Mediterranean Red Prawns for a reason. I have had this right here before and also in Italy say at Touch in Florence, Italy. This definitely isn’t losing out in the bursting sweetness either. The base prawn bisque which the pasta was coated in was also very flavorful, although this time there were no heads given, which was 1 step back from last time here. We thought this was really tasty as are almost all pastas served at 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo, although there were certainly no upside surprises again for a 3* setting. But did the chicken or the egg come first? I really liked this but 3* seriously? ~ 8/10
Mayura Beef Shoulder Cut, Roast Vegetables, Pommery Mustard,
Potatoes, Red wine and Beef Jus -
The beef was crusty outside and very flavorful and medium-rare within. I have never doubted execution here as it is always cooked spot-on, except for some desserts. I mean I really loved this beef dish for it’s balance and taste, but as I mention again and again over several visits, I just don’t understand how this can be of Michelin 3* graded food. And before you criticize me, yes I have had the full dinner degustation here before, and yes I have eaten at other Michelin 2-3* restaurants around the world to compare. Call me harsh, but whilst I still really like the food here, it is getting very pricy even during lunch for $420 with only 2 Courses and it doesn’t even include any Canapes nor a Dessert. At this price point for lunch, I would rather pick Caprice or Pierre.
I remember back during the Toscana days, they already served a similar ending platter. We didn’t opt for any desserts today since we were ok to just re-explore the latest Spring menu. Fortunately these Pasticcini have improved and all of them were better than the 2* AMBER Petits Fours I just ate last week. But AMBER’s other dishes are easily a grade above here, even if only for wine lunch. Call me stubborn or deprived. I have always liked the food here and it’s great execution, and what more can a foodie ask for? But Michelin 3*? Even NOMA was and is only Michelin 2* when I visited. The Pellegrino’s Top 50 restaurants have French places in Paris which don’t even carry a star but were more inventive. I like here a lot mind you, I just don’t understand the hype and the pricing point personally.
Price: $420 Lunch 2 Courses + 10%
Food: ♕♕♕♕ to ♕♕♕♕ 1/2
Opening Hours -
Mon to Sunday 12:00am - 22:00pm
Shop 202, 2/F, Alexandra House, 5-17 Des Voeux Road Central, Central
Ph: 2537 8859