8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana
202, 2/F, Landmark Alexandra , 18 Chater Road, Central HK
+852 2537 8859
It’s been nearly a decade since Umberto Bombana opened his flagship 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo at the Landmark Alexandra and, to this day, no one has been able to knock the reigning “King of Truffles” off his throne. The restaurant is the only three-Michelin-starred Italian restaurant to exist outside Italy and is a mainstay on both the prestigious Asia’s 50 Best and the World’s 50 Best Restaurants lists as well as Asia’s 50 Best Bars. If you’ve been lucky enough to dine at 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, you’ll agree that the restaurant is well deserving of its many honours.
8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana exudes a characteristic European charm and elegance that’s rare to find in Hong Kong. It is a pure celebration of Italian style and ingredients led by the warm and exuberant Umberto Bombana, best known for his obsession with white truffles.
The talented Italian chef was a recent recipient of the Diner’s Club Lifetime Achievement Award from Asia’s 50 best, and had secured two Michelin stars within three months of opening 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana. After collecting a third star one year later, he secured the restaurant’s prominence on the global culinary stage. It may cost a pretty penny to enjoy one of Umberto’s degustation menus, but for the intense pleasure and gratification, it’s worth every last cent.
Umberto’s obsession with fine Italian ingredients begins and ends with a love of truffles, and the tuber gets shaved with wild abandon on everything from eggs to pasta to veal and wagyu beef. In fact, the air itself is perfumed with truffle, and the heady aroma is enough to cast a spell on you as you savour a glass of wine – chosen from over 2,000 bottles available – and nibble on the freshly baked bread while waiting for the first plate to arrive.
A helping of creamy organic eggs with truffle whipped potato is a wonderful way to kick off the degustation, followed by divinely tender roasted octopus and artichoke, and lobster salad in a Champagne dressing with pearls of Oscietra caviar.
Pastas are a forte at 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, from the butter-slicked ravioli encasing fresh burrata cheese, to the cavatelli with shellfish ragout, little twirls of pasta swimming with sweet chunks of seafood in a concentrated seafood stock. On top sits two golden lobes of sea urchin, a reinforcement to coax out the briny ocean flavours.
From Brittany Blue lobster to Pyrenees baby lamb with barley risotto and veal tenderloin with braised celeriac under a shower of winter truffles, the rest of the menu takes you on a journey across land and sea, with every transporting dish arriving like a postcard from different regions of Italy.
And just when you thought the truffle parade was over, it shows up again in dessert – arranged like fresh flower petals around a fist-sized ball of black truffle ice cream, offset by light Chantilly cream, crispy hazelnuts and a drift of gold flakes.
It’s overstated luxury no doubt, but that’s what Otto e Mezzo is all about – indulging in the finer things in life with joyful and reckless abandon.