I know a place: venetian-born chef Michele Senigaglia

Grace M.W. Wong

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 April, 2014, 10:44pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 April, 2014, 10:53pm

Michele Senigaglia is the chef-patron of Spasso Italian Restaurant & Bar in Empire Centre, Tsim Sha Tsui East


I was born in Venice, and I have been residing in Hong Kong since November 30, 2008. Last year we moved Spasso from its original Harbour City site closer to the waterfront area.

I put together a new menu, which is essentially an abbreviated version of the old Spasso menu, focusing more on quality rather than quantity. The suckling pig with Sardinian myrtle leaves, and penne "Jerome" are always part of this menu.

For me, dining out means a chance to relax and share with my wife on my day off. Whether it is a fine dining restaurant or just a simple noodle joint, the authenticity of the dish, a welcoming host and an inviting atmosphere are some of the aspects I look for. Aside from Italian food, my favourite cuisine is Japanese. I love Japanese chefs' dedication to perfection, and their execution of recipes, as I believe the aesthetics are a crucial part of a dish.

For sushi and sashimi, I regularly visit Kenjo (30 Minden Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2369 8307). I love to sit at the counter and ask the chefs to suggest their best seasonal offerings. The experience is not a fine dining one, but it's authentic and the delicately hand-crafted fresh sushi is spectacular.

Another good Japanese restaurant is Roka (shop 2, Level 1 Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, tel: 3960 5988) which serves excellent robatayaki. It is sophisticated, yet informal enough to kick back and unwind. I order sushi and the robata dishes, especially the vegetables, which are my absolute favourite.

For a change of pace, I venture to Nan Tei (55 Staunton Street, SoHo, tel: 2559 6221) for skewers. I like the chicken skin and chicken wings.

Maxim's Palace Chinese Restaurant (3/F City Hall, 5-7 Edinburgh Place, Central, tel: 2521 1303) is ideal for a leisurely dim sum meal with family. I love the old style food trolley service and the energy that this place has. Pan-fried turnip cake with XO sauce and the crispy pork belly are some of my favourite dishes.

In Venice, I go to Trattoria Al Gatto Nero da Ruggero in Burano (Fondamenta della Giudecca 88, 30142, tel: +39 041 730 120). It is in the location of my father's birth. They make typical Venetian and Buranese specialities such as risotto de go (goby risotto), and fish soup. I also recommend andar per bacari, the Venetian practice of touring the city's wine bars.