Armani/Aqua

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 December, 2011, 12:00am

Shop 204-205, 2/F Chater House, 8 Connaught Road, Central
Tel: 3583 2828
Open: 11.30am-11pm
Cuisine: Italian and Japanese

Price: we ordered quite austerely, so it came out to HK$700 without drinks and the service charge.

Ambience: the large space has sections that are demarcated by open trellis screens. The bar and kaiten sushi sections were empty the entire night, while the dining area, bathed in vermillion lights, was about three-quarters full. Service was friendly.

Pros: we liked almost everything we ate. There were a few hiccups with the service, but they were corrected with apologies, and the manager comp'd us desserts to make up for them. When I was served the steak tartare rather than the dish I ordered, the manager offered to take back (and presumably recook) my guest's starter so we could eat at the same time.

Cons: the menu, divided into Italian and Japanese sections, is very long so it is difficult to decide. Although we liked the food, we probably will not eat here again because there are other places that are just as good but more affordable. A dish of Japanese rice with fresh crab and sea urchin, for example, seemed overpriced at HK$268.

Recommended dishes: a starter of potato gnocchi with scampi (HK$268) featured light potato dumplings in a rich, creamy sauce that was lightened by the addition of the Sorrento lemon. Beef tenderloin tataki (HK$288) was difficult to eat because each piece needed to be dipped in sauce, and the toppings kept falling off. But each mouthful, consisting of the lightly seared beef, onion, fried garlic chip, chives and a hint of spice, was well balanced. My guest loved his main course of pan-fried black peppercorn lamb fillet with bread dumpling (HK$388), although I found it less interesting. The meat was tender and perfectly cooked, the bread dumpling was as dense as expected. Charcoal-grilled king prawn with sea urchin and spicy yuzu (HK$288) seemed shockingly small for what was supposed to be a main course - it was a single prawn, and it was not a huge one. But the prawn was almost superfluous; the main focus was the plentiful amount of rich, creamy sea urchin that engulfed it.

What else? This is at least the third incarnation of an Armani restaurant at this location - it started off as the Emporio Armani Caffe then changed to Armani Bar/HK.

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