Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tosca (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

I was doing a bit of finger counting at home the other night. Out of all the Michelin starred restaurants in Hong Kong, Tosca was my most frequently visited one in 2015 by a country mile. I thought there were a few reasons that played a role in this. For one, the location was unbeatable as it's in the proximity of where I usually hang out. Then, of course it's that gorgeous view which became the easy choice for me to bring my out-of-town visitors over. But last but not least, let's not forget Executive Chef Pino Lavarra's modern Italian cuisine that's been giving me a heart warming feeling ever since his arrival more than a year ago.

Here's the man behind the scene - Chef Pino Lavarra, playing with his Apple laptop and perhaps posting a few photos on his Instagram.

I've heard of Chef Pino's First Table for a while now and quite honestly, it's a fabulous deal. For $688 per head, you get the front row seats to the Victoria Harbour and a surprise 4-course menu from Chef Pino and the crew.

As promised, I showed up approximately around 6pm (First Table = First customer) and was immediately guided to our table by the window. The best part of all, I don't even need to waste time going through the long menu and get everything into Chef Pino's capable hands. 

Following a little chit-chat with our server, here comes our amuse bouche which was a potato purée tonight

It was nicely complemented by some Sicilian red prawn chips, dash of sea urchin, caramelized purple onions and dill. Solid start.


Warm potato cream and autumn salad was a curious choice immediately following the potato purée. The texture was slightly different (call it purée or foam) with this one being a lot more soupy but I thought the flavors were vastly similar to our amuse bouche. It was good serving it with some croutons and goat cheese but I'm still raising my eyebrows on this one.

Homemade fusilli with chicken tomato sauce and provolone cheese was next and I called it a refined version of Spaghetti Bolognese. The homemade fusilli was really nice with just the perfect bite and there's this wasabi-like aroma coming from the 
provolone cheese which brought everything together nicely. All in all, an elegant and well executed dish.

My third course was pan seared John Dory with chestnut, trumpet mushroom, and a bit of fried squid on top as garnish. The texture of the John Dory was decent but not overwhelmingly good and I didn't particularly like the wine sauce.

More successful was the Pecorino roasted lam loin with salsify and creamy beetroot salad. The lamb loin was nicely 
wrapped with a pastry of parmesan cheese giving it a lovely texture on the outside. Fairly nice but didn't blow us away.

I was excited about dessert as always and was overjoyed to see one of my favorite dishes here as tonight's dessert - tiramisu with limoncello. They've always got one of the best tiramisu in Hong Kong but tonight slightly off the mark due to the extra liquor (comparing to their usually perfect portions). Still a pretty comforting finish to an enjoyable evening.

I never get tired of this view especially under the clear skies. Too bad the windows were a little fogged up back at Tosca there so the photos didn't turn out as well as I originally thought they would.  

Chef Pino's First Table was a pretty special experience although being such a picky customer, I'd probably like to have a say with what I put into my mouth. Now, the million-dollar question. Would I be back for another First Table experience? Well, probably not anytime soon. 

Food Rating: 6/10
Price: $$$$
Address: 102/F The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Kowloon
Tel: +852 2263-2263
Website: Link

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