Date
23 June 2017
Octopus braised in red wine (left) and marine lobster pasta are both superb. Photo: Openrice, Facebook/Mangiare
Octopus braised in red wine (left) and marine lobster pasta are both superb. Photo: Openrice, Facebook/Mangiare

Mangiare: Impressive little Italian hub

Since the MTR Island line was extended to Kennedy Town, new restaurants have mushroomed in the neighborhood.

Some time ago, a gweilo friend brought me to Mangiare, a small hub in Cadogan Street that specializes in Italian street food.

It’s a very interesting place.

The small rectangular outlet is hung with meat and sausages in extravagant quantities. The two Italian chefs are both serious-looking. The one with tattoos on his arms keeps a poker face while preparing dishes.

The scene was so incredible I couldn’t help comparing it a cult film set.

The food was great.

We ordered three dishes. Octopus braised in red wine appeared like some thick mud. Although it wasn’t good-looking, the octopus was well-stewed, yielding a tender texture and a rich uamai taste. I liked it very much as the way it was made was so homey.

The marine lobster pasta was made of Boston lobsters and the short pasta was perfectly al dente. The only disadvantage was that the dish would be difficult for ladies who are conscious of their elegant manners when de-shelling the lobster claws.

The last dish we had was grilled steak. Give it to the Italians to cook it to perfection or to deliver a medium rare steak.

Three mains and one bottle of red wine for a dinner for two people cost HK$1,600, which was fair given the quality of the food.

As Mangiare is such a restaurant of character, it was my turn to treat my wife and son.

But to our great disappointment, they don’t open on Sundays.

We ended up dining at a restaurant across the street which is operated by a large group. I thought it should be alright.

However, it was not. The incident taught me never to visit a restaurant randomly.

For the main course, I ordered roasted rack of lamb. One portion was a bit overdone; another was raw. Worse, I was not sure if it was mutton as it didn’t have a taste of the genuine meat.

We left the restaurant quickly. With an empty stomach, I dashed to a Hong Kong-style restaurant called Hor Hor Deem in Belcher’s Street for a bowl of dried oysters and pork bones porridge to calm my nerves.

I really don’t understand how a properly decorated large restaurant with awful food could survive in Hong Kong.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec. 13.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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DY/JP/RA

HKEJ columnist; art, culture and food critic

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