Disappointment is, by definition, proportionate (inversely) to expectations, to put it philosophically. So it’s no surprise and quite probable to hear “I had high expectations but was disappointed” in reviews.
Carrying a celebrity name like Jamie Oliver definitely sets the bar as high as it could be, making that statement even more a likelihood. But to stray away from food philosophy, I finally visited and was mildly surprised. Though to be fair, a lot of the negative reviews around Jamie’s Italian in Hong Kong were posted months ago (in August/September?) when the restaurant had just opened. Much of the complaints seemed to go around logistics and service – that might have improved by now as my mom thought the latter deserved an almost 20% tip!
Lucky 15 min wait on Saturday 8pm for five
I was nervous given the potential wait and more so because my parents are so picky and it’s a rare occasion I’ve suggested a dinner place. But luckily we got a table within 15 mins because we waited by the counter for no-shows.
Deep fried three cheese gnocchi with arrabbiata sauce
We were all impressed by our first bite at this restaurant. My dad said, “I can’t explain what it is”. I suppose it’s not typical to have gnocchi deep fried this way and it was a great complement to a pint of Poretti Italian draft beer! (Finally something other than Peroni that’s Italian).
Spinach & taleggio croquettes *must order*
This was another highlight early in our meal: Croquettes are mainstream but these were slightly not.
For starters we also ordered risotto balls and the simple green salad. Nothing amazing about the risotto balls, though they did have a nice spicy kick to it. Though simple, my parents quickly cleared the salad and sauce, complimenting the freshness of the leaves.
Don’t order the crab and avocado bruschetta
The crab and avocado bruschetta seems to be the epicentre of complaints on Openrice and I agree that the combo is a bit of a mismatch. It’s really not what you’d expect a bruschetta to look and taste like. Plus, the biscuit-like sourdough is just not sourdough.
Tasty though unmemorable pastas
I did have higher expectations for pastas here but the two I ordered – Truffle tagliatelle and Our famous tiger prawn linguine were not extraordinary – which is what I hoped they would be. They use homemade pasta here which I usually hate; but somehow they did a great job in keeping the carbohydrates very al dente! The sauces were generally delicious, my main complaint would be that they are slightly common (which is not such a bad thing to be fair).
Lamb lollipops with polenta chips *must order*
We love our meat medium rare and hate it when restaurants over cook! The lamb chops were cooked perfectly here and meat quality was good and fatty. I’d say it was a bit more rare than medium rare usually is – no complaints from me here though. But just make sure you emphasise well done if you don’t like raw meat.
The condiments were the key to this dish. The lamb was served with delicious herby red onion, yogurt and polenta chips (pictured below), which made it so you can’t say “they’re just lamb chops”!
Fish in a bag *must order*
The fish in a bag doesn’t look very good but was definitely my favourite main dish of the night. The fish had definitely been cooked at a perfect temperature – the texture was moist and soft. It’s served between a bed of cracked wheat (which tastes kind of like rice) and a layer of fiery arrabbiata sauce. There were were also cockles, mussels and other herby things in the wrapped foil, sauna-ed the whole package with strong flavours. Highly recommended by me!
Lemon meringue pie *must order*
Comments on Instagram mentioned that desserts were generally better than the mains here. I definitely wanted to wipe the plate clean of the lemon meringue pie – the crunch and orange zest definitely added a thin layer of sophistication to the dessert. I’d definitely come back for this but it wouldn’t be the best one I ever had (see 5 best lemon tarts in Hong Kong) – might still come in fourth though!
Topped with ice cream, chocolate sauce and POPCORN, it looks pretty epic to me. But a bit epic-ly sweet too.
Great service, some great dishes and reasonably priced – give it a go if you’re lucky to avoid a long wait!
If you call, they’re probably fully booked. If you walk-in, they’ll tell you to come back later (at 8:30/8:45/9:30 that kinda thing). If you’re happy to come back “later”, they put your name down and you’ll probably get your seat at that time. For us, we thought there are bound to be groups of people leaving their names down but ditching! It was 8:00 and we hoped there’d be no-shows and luckily got our table for five at 8:15!
I had heard bad things about logistics and service, but the above arrangement was not a disaster at all. Our server was polite, attentive and let’s just say we were willing to tip well. The menu and food is not exquisite or fine – it’s pretty casual but there are some really delicious dishes – croquettes, lamb lollipops, fish in a bag and lemon meringue pie – that are worth coming for.
Jamie’s Italian (Hong Kong) is located on 2/F Soundwill Plaza II – Midtown, 1 Tang Lung Street, Causeway bay. We spent around $350 per person with drinks and excluding tip. Wait time was 15 min.