Restaurant review: Mangiare, Kennedy Town - friendly Italian
Bring an appetite, patience and plenty of friends to Mangiare, where the chef will sing for your supper. The food is wonderful, too, with highlights a fantastic lobster orecchiete and rich Iberico beef
If you eat at Mangiare, be prepared to wait: the restaurant doesn't take bookings. Be prepared to talk to strangers: the tables are packed close together, and it's likely you'll be sitting elbow to elbow with neighbouring diners. And if you're eating late, be prepared to sing: after shutting down the kitchen, the tattooed Italian chef came around with a guitar to serenade diners with tunes such as Volare, O Sole Mio (which our group kept singing as Elvis Presley's It's Now or Never), and Bamboléo.
The food is prepared in the open kitchen near the entrance, and the day's dishes are scrawled on a blackboard. The food is served family-style, so it's best to come in a large group.
Polpo (HK$200) was a dish of thick, tender pieces of octopus with potatoes flavoured with lots of garlic and olive oil. Sicilian red prawns (HK$320 for 250 grams) weren't as large or as brightly coloured as we expected, but they were sweet and juicy.
The orecchiette with blue lobster (HK$300) was fantastic: the thick pasta, with cup-like indentations — captured the intensely seafoody sauce, which was so delicious we drank it out of the shallow bowls that serve as plates. Pappardelle Genovese (HK$200) had a rich, meaty ragù coating the wide strands of pasta.
The beef course was the highlight of the meal. US prime beef in Chianti (HK$128 per 100 grams) was tender, but even better was the Iberico beef (HK$128 per 100 grams). Our party of seven ordered a thick, bone-in piece that weighed 1.3kg, and it was some of the best beef we've tasted — the thick, soft slices had a rich, almost irony flavour. The beef came with side dishes of charred potatoes with mushrooms and broccoli, and salad with artichoke hearts, fresh tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes.
The only dish that disappointed was the roasted pigeon (HK$280 each), which was overcooked.
Mangiare, Hang Yu Building, 45-55 Cadogan Street, Kennedy Town, tel: 2388 3861. About HK$650 without drinks. There's no service charge