Sniffing out white gold

It’s white truffle season and you know the best place to eat it is at an Italian restaurant.

At Aria, atop California Tower in Central, seasonal ingredients sourced from sought-after global producers are enhanced by chef Andrea Zamboni’s inimitable style.

His season-limited starter Tribute to Life (HK$688) celebrates the famous fungi. Featuring three kinds of eggs – scrambled Livornese eggs on a base of potato mousseline, salmon caviar and The Royal Caviar Club Baerii caviar topped with a generous amount of Alba white truffle – the dish is creamy, brackish and musky, with a crispy texture from a thin layer of tuile dentelle.

“My cooking is a representation of my life experiences,” Zamboni said. This culinary philosophy can be seen in his signature tagliatelle with zarda spicy tomato sauce, served with blue lobster and bagna cauda fondue (HK$268). A whopping 36 yolks are used for each kilogram of flour to give the pasta a silky texture.

The Italian XLB (price not available) is Zamboni’s homage to his favorite dim sum, xiaolongbao. His Italian version is ravioli filled with beetroot, squid ink and French turbot tartare, topped with French crawfish. For an innovative take on the traditional vinegar, he uses a small drop of citrus chutney.

For the full experience, Zamboni recommends Aria’s exclusive chef’s table (HK$2,000), an omakase-style menu of his favorite off-menu dishes that change weekly, based on seasonal ingredients.

Guests can also request white truffle shavings on any other dishes.

Newcomer Fiamma at Peak Galleria gives other Italian restaurants a run for their money. Michelin-starred chef Enrico Bartolini marries innovative home-style cuisine and timeless tradition.

Season-driven antipasti dishes include burrata cheese (HK$148) served with Taggiasca olives, heirloom tomatoes and basil crumble, Fassona beef tartare (HK$188) with parmigiano reggiano fondue and quail egg yolk, topped with shaved black truffle.

Next are pasta dishes, mains and authentic pizzas, including the traditional pork and beef tortellini (HK$218) with parmigiano reggiano fondue, seared Mediterranean seabass (HK$228) served with broccolini, fava beans, capers and a touch of saffron and patate e salsiccia, or thin potato slices, mozzarella, artisan Italian sausage and fresh rosemary (HK$168).

For a meal stuffed with the aromatic ingredient, LucAle in Sai Ying Pun is offering an indulgent menu featuring Alba white truffles.

The starter of Scottona beef tartare (HK$580) with egg, horseradish mayonnaise and puffed rice is best paired with fresh white wine with aromatic herb notes.

Most of the dishes – such as Pumpkin Cream (HK$480), a 63-degree slow-cooked egg, Avezzano potato foam and white truffle, as well as homemade egg tagliolini (HK$580) – are cooked simply, with minimal ingredients to allow the truffle to stand out.

But if you want a mouthful of decadence, Rossini’s beef tenderloin (HK$788) comes with both foie gras and truffle on a bed of spinach.

At one of the city’s most highly rated Italian restaurants, Castellana, the newly launched Alba white truffle menu (HK$1,580 for four courses or HK$1,980 for seven) aims to please truffle hounds.

Guests can eat their way through truffle-filled appetizers of Japanese tuna and Italian mountain organic egg, traditional pasta dishes, as well as desserts. But the highlight is the main, Astice blu Mare, which uses blue lobster from Brittany, vacuum-cooked with aromatic butter and served with purple cabbage, leek cream, smoked potatoes and a generous shaving of white truffles.

(This article was published at The Standard on October 30, 2020: Weekend Glitz: Sniffing out white gold )

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