Taste
Decor
Service
Hygiene
Value for money
Recommended Dishes
My picks of antipasti: lingua, fregula, & caponata
My picks of antipasti: lingua, fregula, & caponata
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Lamb Braciole with olives and cannellini beans
Lamb Braciole with olives and cannellini beans
Averna for the sauce - very nice~
Averna for the sauce - very nice~
Pizza Funghi Taleggio
Pizza Funghi Taleggio
Fresh Lemon Soda, Lorenza No.1 Olive Oil
Fresh Lemon Soda, Lorenza No.1 Olive Oil
No Lingua this time, but more cheese
No Lingua this time, but more cheese
Bavette Cacio e Pepe
Bavette Cacio e Pepe
Lingua
anything with fregula
We waited for...
0 min(s) (Dine-in)
Date
2012-04-05
We spent...
Approx. HK$350 (Lunch)
10
APR 12

Anyone who has lived in the States, especially with in NYC, would not be unfamiliar with Mario Batali. He is not just a famous chef and restaurateur but also has numberous cookbooks and TV shows as well as products and a gigantic Italian gourmet market (Eataly). The Batali’s empire is so huge that I am always amazed by his energy and ability to manage them all.

Although I haven’t been to his restaurants overseas, I frequented his restaurants, particularly those in Manhattan when I lived there. Different Batali’s restaurants present different styles and types of Italian food – Del Posto being a rare Italian haute cuisine establishment, Esca being seafood-centric, Otto and Lupa being causal Italian treats, simple, hearty, and easy to approach and share . My mom's favorite is Del Posto, and I love his first restaurant Babbo the most. I used to visit Lupa or Otta regularly with my colleagues and friends, as the food was consistent, fresh and seasonally driven, and very reasonably priced.

Normally I don’t rush to try new restaurants, as I want to wait till the restaurants work out all the kinks and smoothly operate before I dine there. However, I have been craving for simple good Italian for too long, and I was eager to try Lupa out. So on the first day of its lunch service, I visited with 2 friends, and revisited in 2 days. These were my experiences in the 2 LUNCH visits.

For the first day of Lupa’s lunch service, an impromptu causal lunch of 3 of us turned into full lunch menu tasting! We couldn’t resist but to order up almost everyone on the lunch menu. Currently you must order the buffet of antipasti and desserts, and add soup, primi/pizza , and/or secondi of your choice. These items are mostly available at dinner as well, but priced much higher as a la carte dishes.

There were around 12-13 types of vegetables and pesca antipasti and salad, 4 types of salumi, rosemary and sea salt focaccia, grissini, 5 types of desserts and fruits. (Numbers might vary…) It is actually quite a bargain considered the selections and the generious portion sizes.

I am not a big eater particularly at lunch, so I tried only a few that sounded interesting.

Antipasti buffet:

My picks of antipasti: lingua, fregula, & caponata

My picks of antipasti: lingua, fregula, & caponata - Lupa in Central )
My picks of antipasti: lingua, fregula, & caponata
Round 1: various salumi and seafood. I like the lingua (thin sliced ox tongue) with fennel and citrus peels and razor clams with fregula and basil the most. I don’t see much fregula featured in Italian restaurants in Hong Kong so even there weren’t much razor clams I wanted more of this.

For round 2, I had mainly vegetables and I enjoyed the caponata, grilled peppers with anchovies, and cipolla onions and balsamic. I also encored more lingua and razor clams and that’s it for my buffet.

Moving to primi and pizza. Despite just the 3 of us we ordered all 3 pasta available and a pizza tongue.

Pizza Margherita, the simplest and most classic pizza was our choice, just to “test” the water.

Pizza Margherita: Still need improvement

Pizza Margherita: Still need improvement - Lupa in Central )
Pizza Margherita: Still need improvement
The Margherita pizza had nice char and bubbles at the cornicione and a chewy and fairly crusty base. However, the center was a bit too soggy for my liking. The wetness was probably due to the fresh tomato sauce which was a bit too watery and bland. The sauce and cheese required more seasoning.

We talked to Chef Allen, the chief chef at Lupa, and he mentioned that they were still getting used to the new oven and adjusting their execution and recipes every day. I think it had potential and it’s the main reason I paid a second visit so quickly after this lunch.

The 3 pastas available at lunch were also simple classic Italian pasta dishes, some of which being signatures in Lupa New York. Bavette Cacio e Pepe is a thin spaghetti-like pasta made with black pepper and Cacio di Roma cheese. This one was well executed with a robust peppery taste and al dente pasta. Very simple but nice!

Bavette Cacio e Pepe

Bavette Cacio e Pepe  - Lupa in Central )
Bavette Cacio e Pepe
.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara also had a good eggy flavor, with enough seared guanciale that were crispy and fatty. They followed the authentic recipe without the use of cream. The only caveat was that the egg yolk curdled a little when it cooled down. Overall a very good carbonara!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Spaghetti alla Carbonara - Lupa in Central )
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Sausage and Fennel was definitely fluffier and less dense than what I had tried in other Italian restaurants in Hong Kong. However I couldn't taste much fennel or sasuage that went with the cheesy tomato sauce . Good gnocchi but I preferred a sauce with more complexity. (and if they can also give the gnocchi a crispy exterior by pan-searing it, like they do at Babbo and Del Posto…)

Ricotta Gnocchi with Sausage and Fennel

Ricotta Gnocchi with Sausage and Fennel  - Lupa in Central )
Ricotta Gnocchi with Sausage and Fennel
.

We were greedy tongue and ordered 2 mains.

Braised Pork Shoulder with Averna and Cucumber

Braised Pork Shoulder w Averna & Cucumber

Braised Pork Shoulder w Averna & Cucumber - Lupa in Central )
Braised Pork Shoulder w Averna & Cucumber
. The main course pork shoulder used Italian Averna (an Italian liquer) and ginger which gave it an Asian flavor resembling Chinese black vinegar. Unfortunately the pork shoulder meat was too lean and the exterior meat was stringy, possibly caused by deep-frying. Chef said he is trying to source pork knees which are fattier and more juicey locally to substitute as it was his original attempted recipe with pork knees

The Averna used for the braised pork shoulder. Thanks Chef Allen for a taste of it!
(I didn't get drunk even though it was of 32% alcohol tongue)

Averna for the sauce - very nice~

Averna for the sauce - very nice~ - Lupa in Central )
Averna for the sauce - very nice~
.

Lamb Braciole with olives and cannellini beans

Lamb Braciole with olives and cannellini beans

Lamb Braciole with olives and cannellini beans - Lupa in Central )
Lamb Braciole with olives and cannellini beans
The lamb braciole was quite fatty this time with gelatinous and tender meat, rolled with cheese and crispy breadcrumbs. The olive flavor was very prominent, so good for those who like olives. The crispy and crunchy textural contrast of the breadcrumbs outside and the pine nuts inside was simply fantastic. The cannellini beans were also tender.

Although the lamb was definitely over salted during this visit, this issue was fixed in the second visit.

We were too full to enjoy the dessert buffet so I just had one bite of a few, including cinnamon amaretti cookies, chocolate bread pudding, Bombolini with cream filling.

Dessert buffet - too full to try...

Dessert buffet - too full to try... - Lupa in Central )
Dessert buffet - too full to try...
.

On our 2nd visit, there was no lingua at the buffet so simply cheese including gorgonzola dolce, 2 types of pecorino, ricotta salata. More razor clams with fregula and basil and caponata for me.

No Lingua this time, but more cheese

No Lingua this time, but more cheese - Lupa in Central )
No Lingua this time, but more cheese
.

I ordered a fresh lemon soda as I couldn’t drink at lunch and it was very refreshing. The olive oil they use here is Lorenza No.1, (I was hoping they use DaVero which they use in Babbo in NYC).

Fresh Lemon Soda, Lorenza No.1 Olive Oil

Fresh Lemon Soda, Lorenza No.1 Olive Oil - Lupa in Central )
Fresh Lemon Soda, Lorenza No.1 Olive Oil
.

My biggest prize was the pizza. MY (note: mine, don't know about others') Funghi Taleggio pizza was very delicious!

Pizza Funghi Taleggio

Pizza Funghi Taleggio - Lupa in Central )
Pizza Funghi Taleggio
Pie crust was chewy without being too hard and the cornicione had crusty bubbles.

For the upskirt I like it to be crustier and with more char, but this was pretty good. The cornicione with puffed bubbles was still chewy but crustier than last time. When it cooled down it was much chewier...


A plethora of aromatic shrooms, crunchy and juicy! They went wonderfully with taleggio, one of my favorite melting cheese. Much better than the Margherita last time! It could still do with a little more crusty texture. It’s not exactly Napoletana-styled pizza I say, more like Batali’s own style, but quite close. Please keep improving!

My friend ordered the Lamb Braciole with Olives and Cannellini Beans which I had last time. Not overly salted this time, but the lamb was leaner than before. I like the previous fattier lamb more.

Not big on the desserts so just amaretti cookies and peanut butter cookies. More taleggio (because I real like it tongue) and rosemary focaccia and moscato to end the meal.

Overall I was happy with my two lunch visits, especially given the reasonable price. It is not up to the standard of Lupa New York yet, and not everything is perfect. More consistency in execution of the main dishes and pizza would improve the overall performance immensely. Chef Allen also told us that the team is trying to get better and more diverse sourcing of ingredients for a more enchanting menu. I am going to dinner in a few days to try out more dishes exclusive to the dinner menu. I believe giving it some time, Lupa will be an excellent causal Italian restaurant and a great addition to Hong Kong’s Italian culinary scene.

Supplementary Information
Currently if you sit in the main dining room of Lupa, the buffet of antipasti and desserts must be ordered at lunch - $168,
you can:
- add soup for an extra $30
- add primi/pizza for an extra $50
- and/or secondi for an extra $90

Dinner is mainly a la carte dishes. There is no pizza available in the main dining room at dinner service.

La Terrazza is the outdoor area of Lupa where you can order simple antipasti, pizza and drinks. Pasta and main dishes are not available outdoor, and it's not open for lunch time.
12
Recommend
Recommended
9 recommended
Lawrence Lau
食神歸位
奔天人
好食到彭彭聲
kent1012
ryu_ng
辣子
Boblam
TaiwanWalker
unknown
Little Meg
Little Meg Sorry for my carelessness. A small typo: it should be "cipolla onions with balsamic". (I hate auto correct! mad)
2012-04-11 · Reply
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