Monday, July 18, 2011

Italian Comfort Food

Food and travel guest blogger hkLifestyleGeek gives us her next scoop on fantastic restaurants around town and travel tips. Contact her at

Sabatini Ristorante Italiano in the Royal Garden is as Italian as you can get in Hong Kong. The original one opened in Rome in 1954 and Hong Kong was one of the first locations outside of Italy. The fine dining establishment has a new chef, Andrea Magnano who is cooking up a storm in Sabatini and has created his new chef's recommendation menu called "Italian Southern Comfort", featuring flavours from southern Italy.

I got to sample a few of the dishes and if you can't find anything on the already extensive regular menu, give these a try. You'll feel like you've traveled to the Mediterranean with these delicious culinary treats. One can clearly see Magnano is keen to let the ingredients speak for themselves and through his cooking enhance their natural flavours.
One seafood starters is the scampi tail salad with fennel and orange with pink peppercorn dressing (HK$288). It's very refreshing, with meaty scampi cooked to reveal its natural flavours and lightly seasoned with the dressing. Another winner is the pan-seared scallops wrapped in zucchini, with a luxurious touch of Balik caviar, and a lemon and basil dressing (HK$288).

If you're looking for an Italian kind of gazpacho taste, the chilled tomato and yellow bell pepper soup with cucumber, fennel and mint salad (HK$148) might do the trick, or a more meaty starter is the milk-fed carpaccio with micro cress herb salad, shaved parmesan, pommery mustard dressing and summer black truffle (HK$198).

For mains, there's more seafood dishes like sauteed mussels, clams and cherry tomatoes marinara style with olive oil "di Colatura" (HK$198), or the citrus risotto with chives and sauteed baby calimari (HK$198).

Another hearty dish is the pan-roasted Sicilian red prawns and pink palamos prawns with tomato, on a bed of frisee and chili mayonnaise (HK$538). The giant prawns are laid out on a rectangular plate and these shellfish are very meaty and fresh.
A favourite at the table was the spring chicken two ways (HK$228). The breast was stuffed with celeriac and foie gras mash, and the leg confit served with sauteed hazelnut spinach with porcini sauce and summer black truffle. Before the dish arrived, there were concerns the dish would be a large portion, but in the end it turned out to be just right, leaving enough room for dessert.
We also enjoyed the dry-aged Black Angus sirloin tagliata with rucola, parmesan cheese, porcini mushrooms in lemon garlic parsley gremolata dressing and summer black truffle (HK$588). The sirloin was cooked medium rare and cut into strips revealing a nice deep pink centre. The meat was very tender and lean, and in between the slices were chunky slices of porcini mushrooms topped with parmesan.

And yes we made room for dessert. Hail the dessert trolley and the selection of sweets makes it near impossible to decide on what to have. You can either go really healthy and have a bowl of berries like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, or totally indulgent with a dessert platter sampling four or five items from the trolley. Oh yes and they're cheese too if you're so inclined.

What also makes for the lively atmosphere at Sabatini is the live band that goes from table to table taking requests. Be sure to have one or two songs in mind, or you can always ask them to sing Lady Gaga...
Sabatini Ristorante Italiano
3/F, The Royal Garden
69 Mody Road
Tsim Sha Tsui East
2733 2000

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