You don’t expect to find premium restaurants in Hung Hom. Great eateries, sure. In fact the relaxed, ‘local’ neighbourhood is home to a wealth of dai pai dongs, noodle bars and hotpot spots which serve up fantastic meals. But up-market fine dining is not well represented here.
However, the opening of Messina by KO Dining Group could change all that. Situated up a Harbourfront Landmark tower, it’s an awesome space reminiscent of an Italian villa from days of yore with a slick, open kitchen at the side. The décor is cosy, there’s stunning views of the harbour and the service is second-to-none, with an army of attentive staff.
However, of course, it’s the food we’re really interested in. It’s a modern Sicilian menu, designed by head chef Francesco Greco. We were at the soft opening a few weeks back and tasted his awesome suckling pig – but we return to see if the staff really do bring out a trolley of raw ingredients to every diner so they can see how their food is prepared. And, if you go for the gueridon service, they do. From sardines to slabs of steak, the staff talk you through the lot.
There’s a degustation menu ($950) but we plump for the gueridon again, starting with organic Cinta Senese pork cheek, a panelle fritter and the chef’s seasonal special, buffalo mozzarella in ‘green sauce’ ($60 each). Then it’s a primi piatti of linguine al pesto with fresh tuna, sea urchin and tuna bottarga ($300) followed by a secondi piatti of filetto gratinato – US prime angus beef tenderloin, with ragusano cheese and sweet and sour veg ($460). It’s all delicious and cooked to perfection. The sea urchins in the pasta shine and the steak, if a little oily, is juicy and full of flavour.
But it’s the desserts that grab us by the babas. After another trolley peek, we go for the rum baba, setteveli and mixed berry panna cotta (each $50). The chocolate setteveli is sumptuously divine, the baba is rich and juicy – and by the time we indulge in the panna cotta we’re in Sicilian heaven.
There’s also homemade bread, appetisers and sweets between courses – but, word to wise, there’s no wine available yet. Bring your own bottle. So, if you only go to Kowloon for heavy drinking, change your plans and head to Hung Hom. There’s a much finer way to get trolleyed in this town. Fred Melling
5/F, Harbourfront Landmark, 11 Wan Hoi St, Hung Hom, 3746 2733. Tue-Sun 12pm-2.30pm & 6pm-10.30pm. Dinner for two: around $2,000.