Monday, January 2, 2017

ALTO Bar and Grill (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

Tang Lung Street (登龍街) in Causeway Bay has been enjoying a gastronomic renaissance over the past few years. The opening of Midtown II followed by V-Point has sparked a wave of new restaurant openings including Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Kitchen, Bangkok's world-renowned Thai restaurant Issaya Siamese Club and Tokyo's Michelin starred La Bombance. Today, I'm here to check out another hidden gem, ALTO Bar and Grill, which is perched on the top floor of the recently opened V-Point.

Hong Kong has seen its fair share of new restaurants blessed with breath-taking harbour view in the last couple of years. But what I like most about ALTO apart from the view was the interior design by Tom Dixon who has created a space that is perfect for its casual dining theme.

Back to the view for a moment, that was pretty nice too.

The kitchen here is helmed by head chef Mike Boyle, previously of Bistecca and AVA Restaurant and Slash Bar. My friends told me the calling card here is their semi-buffet lunch but after checking out what's available at the buffet bar, I decided to take my chances with the a la carte menu. What a smart decision that turned out to be!

Ahi Tuna, niçoise, olive, quail egg and potato chips ($158) - I have seen pictures of their ahi tuna dish on the social media a few times before but that one came with avocado. This, on the other hand, has been partnered with a simple niçoise salad, olive and quail eggs.

I wasn't particularly happy with the quality of the ahi tuna to be brutally honest. It didn't have the usual delicate flavor that I was looking for.

Classic Caesar salad, garlic croutons and white anchovies ($128) - Things began to look up from here starting with a simple Caesar salad. The portion was pretty generous and the romaine lettuce was nice and crunchy with wonderful flavors coming from the white anchovies. Pretty nice.

Roasted scallops, cauliflower, vadouvan and golden raisin ($188) - I certainly didn't expect this sort of "fine dining" presentation from my roasted scallops. At least not after I saw what's out there at the salad bar (OK, I was biased!).

What we have here was an amazing dish of seared scallops, topped with different textures of cauliflower, golden raisins and vadouvan. Served on the side was a purée of what I thought was parsnip or artichoke. That was just perfect to balance the richness of the scallops.

And five BIG pieces of scallops for just $188. We all thought we were dreaming!

Black truffle pappardelle, mixed mushrooms and asparagus ($198) - This was a perfectly executed pappardelle with black truffle, mushrooms and baby asparagus. Very tasty.

Pan-roasted duck breast, beetroot, pomegranate, watercress ($228) - Again, the way they presented this dish caught me off guard. Very thoughtful.

I love the way they dressed this up in predominantly red with a bit of garnish in green from the watercress. The texture of the duck was a little on the hard side (and chewy) if I want to be picky but it combined well with the beetroot and pomegranate. Not bad.

USDA prime American rib-eye ($398) - Finally something from the grill. I had a choice between American and Argentinian and promptly went with the USDA prime rib-eye from good old America (for an additional $70). This was very very tender with lots of juices coming out from the middle. It was almost as good as the one we had at Hotshot about a week ago. Of course, with chef Boyle's background from Bistecca Steakhouse, I have no doubt in my mind about his kitchen's ability to serve up a good steak!

For the first time in a long while, I'm having high praises for a Dining Concepts restaurant. I thought service was still a little spotty (like most DC restaurants) but the quality of food was a real pleasant surprise.

Food Rating: 6/10
Price: $$$
Address: 31/F, V Point, 18 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Causeway Bay
Tel: +852 2603-7181

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