Mario Batali Opens Lupa in Hong Kong

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To be honest it is very hard to find a good Italian restaurant in Hong Kong. One of my favorite Italian restaurants in NYC is Chef Mario Batali’s Babbo, so when I heard that Chef Mario Batali is opening a restaurant in Hong Kong, I was very excited! The soft opening started just a week ago and their grand opening will be on April 12th, 2012.

First impression, the decor is classic, cozy and elegant. It was nicely done. However we can’t say the same about the background music which seemed to be clashing with the feel of the establishment. They were playing songs by MGMT, Lenny Kravitz, and Coldplay,  we like Rock N’ Roll and those songs were great songs! But maybe something classic and jazzy would complement the environment better.

Now I understand that the restaurant opened only a week ago, so it’s only normal to have quirks here and there that need some smoothing out.  However, I do expect a Mario Batali restaurant to have top notch service. And from our experience, they are far from that. Let me give you some examples:

1. When the waiter showed me the wine I ordered, he poured the entire glass and did not let me even taste it first.  I think he must have forgotten.

2. When my companion asked the waiter about a dish on the menu, the waiter told her that he didn’t know also, then he said “I will ask and let you know.” and quickly ran away, but he never came back to answer the question.

3. When two waitresses brought out our food, one of them stated the wrong name for the dish and then turned to the other waitress and told her that the plate was hot…then they giggled together like high school girls in the middle of the dining room. That was very unprofessional and plain weird.

4. The same waitress came again to serve two more dishes. She put our plates down, then pointed casually at each dish with her finger and said doubtfully: “That’s……uhhh….duck……. and….that is….. lin… linguini…(and moving her finger as if she was searching for what else was in my dish) and crab…yeah crab.”

We are not sure what to make out of it, they seemed to be nice people and was never rude, but I hope they can improve on their quality of service.

Now, onto the FOOD! We ordered the Fughi Misti, Prosciutto di Parma, and Octopus and Celery. The Funghi Misti was average, I found myself constantly removing the rosemary sprigs from my mouth; the Prosciutto di Parma was excellent, salty, soft and smooth; the Octopus and Celery with olive oil was a delight, it was simple and refreshing.

As for our main course we went with the Garganelli with Oxtail Ragu and the Ricotta Gnocchi with Fennel and Sweet Sausage. The Garganelli pasta was perfectly al dente, and the Ragu sauce was subtle and flavorful but not overpowering. The Ricotta Gnocchi was chewy and soft, and the fennel and sweet sausage sauce added a tangy kick to the overall taste.

For our “dessert” we ordered the Linguine with Crab, Fennel and Chilies and the Crispy Duck with Salsify and Saba. Yes this was our “desserts” of sorts. The portions were small and we were really hungry! I am glad we ordered these extra dishes because they were both excellent. The crispy duck was flavorful, fatty, juicy and succulent, and the Salsify and Saba tasted almost like sweet pears which was wonderful. The Linguine with Crab, Fennel and Chilies was light yet spicy, the concoction worked well together and the pasta was again perfectly cooked. This was my favorite dish of the night.

For our real dessert we ordered the Panna Cotta with Fresh Oranges. The creamy and not too sweet Panna Cotta was a nice end to our HUGE meal.

Regardless of the service, I would say the food is very good. I think everyone in Hong Kong should give Lupa a try. Bon Appetit!

Lupa Restaurant 3rd Floor, LHT Tower, 31 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong Tel: 2796 6500


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