Newly reopened Va Bene - quality food in Sai Ying Pun ... at Central prices

Italian favourite once a fixture in Lan Kwai Fong has gone west and gone funky, but the food is still interesting, high quality and with little to fault. HK$208 for a glass of Moet is pushing it in Western, though

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 January, 2016, 12:15pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 January, 2016, 2:21pm

Va Bene, which for many years was a fixture in Lan Kwai Fong, closed its doors several months ago, and relocated recently to the Soho 189 building in Sai Ying Pun.

The decor is funky and eclectic, with messages painted on the walls, gorgeous bulbous chandeliers, sleek concrete, an open kitchen, and a bar in the middle of the dining area.

Once the restaurant gets used to its new location, perhaps it can look into the pricing of the dishes, as they seem to reflect those of Central, rather than Western district. A glass of Moet & Chandon is HK$208, appetisers start at HK$128 and mains from HK$248.

We visited a few days after the restaurant opened, and were recognised, despite our intentions to visit anonymously. Overall, the quality of the dishes is high, and we enjoyed the dining experience.

A starter of scallop carpaccio with hazelnut puree and lemon (HK$168) was refreshing and light, with mini chips providing crunchy texture. We loved the burrata with cherry tomatoes (HK$148) - the cheese was so creamy and smooth, we mopped up every last bit of it with warm bread.

Sea bass with Ligurian olive sauce (HK$298) had a modern, minimalist presentation. The three small pieces of perfectly cooked fish were topped with the creamy olive sauce and dressed with olives. The greens served with the dish were a little too salty.

One of the signature dishes is risotto with beetroot and gorgonzola sauce ($228), created by consultant chef Enrico Bartolini, whose restaurant in Italy has two Michelin stars. The colours of the dish are striking: a brilliant burgundy red contrasting with dollops of white, and the taste of it is not too heavy, while retaining the earthiness of the root vegetable.

Tiramisu (HK$68) is a large portion, even for two, but it’s overwhelmed by espresso. We preferred the smooth, decadent soft chocolate with hazelnut ice cream (HK$68), which they comp’d us.

Va Bene, Soho 189, 189 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 2845 5577