Food review: Ciak – in the Kitchen in Central
Service hiccups don't detract from Ciak - In the Kitchen's delicious Italian fare, writes Susan Jung
At first glance, Ciak - In the Kitchen doesn't seem to have much in common with 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo in nearby Alexandra House. With open kitchens, Ciak is a lot larger, the style is more casual and the menu is far more extensive than the Michelin three-star restaurant, which has starched tablecloths, heavy silverware, crystal glasses and fine tableware.
But Ciak, like 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo, gets its name from filmmaking - it is the onomatopoeic sound of the clapperboard closing as the director shouts action, while 8 ½ is the name of a Federico Fellini film.
More importantly, Ciak has 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo chef Umberto Bombana as its culinary director.
The evening didn't get off to a good start. Our table was very close to the main thoroughfare of the long restaurant, and although the hostess said she'd move us if a more private table became available, she never did.
When we wanted to order it was difficult to flag down a server. Then one of them tried to present us with a bill, even though it was obvious from our pristine table setting that we hadn't even started eating.
However, the food made up for all that. We told the manager that we were sharing everything, and he brought the dishes at a good pace.
First was the piccante pizza, which had spicy 'ndjua sausage and mozzarella (HK$180). Piping hot, the pizza had the perfect topping-to-crust ratio and the cornicione (the edge) was light and puffy.
The classic carbonara with homemade tagliolini (HK$190) was rich but not heavy. Even better were the toothsome beef and mortadella meatballs in tomato sauce with tagliatelle (HK$180).
The Iberico pork neck (HK$250) could have used a little more char, but it was tender and moist. We also liked Ciak's signature house-made sausage (HK$110 each) which had succulent, well-seasoned meat.
I was recognised about halfway through the meal, so our desserts, both of which were excellent, were complimentary. The apple tart with pistachio ice cream (HK$98) had light, flaky pastry and thin slices of apple that were almost melting. The delicately textured panna cotta had a surprisingly generous amount of fragrant shaved truffle (HK$230), although the pieces that landed on the vanilla ice cream were wasted, as the cold muted the flavour and aroma.
Ciak - In the Kitchen, 327-333 Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen's Road Central, tel: 2522 8869. Open: 11.30am-10.30pm (Saturday and Sunday from 11am). About HK$360 for a two-course meal without drinks or the service charge.