Favourite restaurants of Christian Talpo, Hong Kong Italian restaurateur
23-year veteran of Hong Kong food and beverage business loves Landmark’s Zuma, hits Isola for pizza, takes visitors to Hutong, and gets his Japanese noodle fix at Ichiran
I have worked in hotels and managed dozens of restaurants in 23 years in Hong Kong. Because my days pretty much revolve around food, I often crave something simple. A home-made spaghetti lightly seasoned with garlic, chilli and olive oil is more tempting than a fancy meal sometimes.
My absolute favourite restaurant is Zuma (levels 5 & 6, Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road Central, tel: 3657 6388). I started managing it after it was open for just four months and ran it for five years. Few places manage to keep the standards so high and so consistent. I love everything about it. These guys truly rock.
I’m Italian so naturally enjoy a good pizza. I do like to hit up Isola (shop 3071-3075 & 4011, IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2383 8765) from time to time. My son Nevio loves it there.
For visitors, I would also definitely take them to Hutong (28/F, 1 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 3428 8342). It’s really a gorgeous place. Founder David Yeo definitely has a magic touch. The design was years ahead of its time, the food is delicious and the view simply stunning.
I can also often be found slurping a bowl of noodles at Ichiran (Lockhart House, block A, 440 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2152 4040). There is only one type of noodles, as that’s all they make, but it is so good they don’t need another. I’ve been to the original shop in Fukuoka, which is a 10-storey building serving, you guessed it, only one dish ... amazing.
I’m often found at Steamers (66 Yi Chun Street, Sai Kung, tel: 2792 6991). My friends and I all ride motorcycles so it’s a good spot for us after an exhilarating ride in and around the New Territories. The food is good, prices affordable and the service is great.
I usually skip lunch, or I sometimes have a sandwich downstairs at The Optimist (239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2433 3324). Chef Alfredo makes an awesome ciabatta with Spanish jamon and manchego cheese. I’m extremely proud of what my partner Manuel and I have achieved with limited resources and a lot of creativity. We’re dedicated to giving Hongkongers amazing bang for their buck and have put a lot of effort into making sure everyone who dines there has a great experience.
Overseas, one restaurant that really amazed me is Dishoom (7 Boundary Street, London E2, tel: +44 (0) 20 7420 9324) in Shoreditch. It’s basically like an Iranian cafe in Bombay at the turn of the 20th century brought to the middle of London. The restaurant is super popular and isn’t gimmicky. Everything works: the food, the ambience, the electric atmosphere. And it’s not very expensive.