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Fresh Cuts, February 23, 2007

By Bruce Dawson | Feb 22, 2007

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The Italian Job

It must be some kind of Italian thing but it seems everyone is making new pizza menus now. The latest and one of the best we’ve had in some time comes courtesy of PizzaExpress with new head chef Carlos Rebolledo. Hailing from the greatest wine-producing regions of Spain (called La Rioja), he opened his first restaurant at just 18 years old and has been with PizzaExpress in the UK for the past 12 years. I didn’t know this, but the company has a dedicated training facility in Spain where they teach their pizzaiolo chefs from around the world’s 400 outlets. Anyhoo, it’s well worth checking out the seven new pastas, four new wholemeal dough pizzas, awesome baked goat’s cheese appetiser and the new Peking duck salad. Our city’s first is the Central outlet but it has since spread to Taikoo Shing, Wan Chai, Tsim Sha Tsui and Stanley. G-2/F, SoHo Square, 21 Lyndhurst St., Central, 2850-7898.

I’ve been more and more curious about this whole “molecular gastronomy” movement being applied to cocktails, and a recent visit to Habitu Ristorante the Garden (L/3, Lee Gardens Two, 28 Yun Ping Rd., Causeway Bay, 2898-3919) moved me to try the grilled caiprihina and a toasted cosmopolitan, both just $65. The theory goes something like this: by using a blowtorch or other heat source to grill the fruit going into a drink, you change its molecular structure to its basic components, which leaves the drink to its purest form. Or something like that. Just try any one of their specialty cocktails on the beautiful terrace and kick back and enjoy.

Japanese Please

I heard of a great little Japanese place called Kiyotaki. It's kind of hidden away on Gough Street: look for it on G/F, 13 Gough St., 2877-1772. The barbecued skewers starting from just $20 are a great way to start off what is going to be a great, authentic Japanese meal. Fresh sashimi and traditional nimono and a bottle of sake is good value but since the place is so tiny you should make sure to call ahead.

Speaking of skewers, how about all-you-can-eat for $98? From Sun-Thu at dinner, Tori Hachi serves up a variety depending on what’s freshest daily but you can count on favorites such as bacon asparagus rolls, grilled ox tongue, chicken kidney, eggplant/green pepper/mushroom/sweet potato. And we like this bit: $25 gets you a 500ml Asahi Super Dry, chu-hi mixed drink or Japanese plum wine. 1/F Circle Tower, 28 Tang Lung St., Causeway Bay, 2591-0101.

Dining al Desko

Can a takeaway lunch really be something to look forward to? The veteran of many a rushed “al desko” meal due to the ever-looming deadlines of the wonderful world of journalism, I was a bit skeptical of a bold claim from RED restaurant about their nutritious take-out options. Now I’m a firm convert. I just give them a buzz at 8129-8882 and swing by for set meal of a nice pasta, salmon, chicken or chili, all served with fresh fruit. My new favorite is the B set, apple and carrot juice, a homemade grilled foccacia with roasted chicken, bell pepper and low-fat cheddar. It’s all for $90 and the menu changes daily.

Wine Not

I’m always on the lookout for a good deal on vino and spotted this on the internet: is offering a mix of six wines for $800 all month.

If it’s cocktails you’re after, JJ’s two-for-one deal is pretty hard to beat until the end of the month, Mon-Sat after 9pm. They’ve got a groovy new band as well called Drop Zone that belt out jazz and contemporary tunes from 9:30pm onward. Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Rd., 2584-7662.

Steak-ing out a Great Deal

Did you know the price of the Australian Kobe steak menu for two at Oceanna is now half-price? $580 gets you and your dinner mate four courses. 12/F, Food Forum, Times Square, Causeway Bay, 2506-3282.

Since I’m on the topic of jazz head over to Grappa’s Cellar on the weekend for some top quality musicians to accompany some very decent Italian. They bake all their own bread with no preservatives in the kitchen, make their own pasta, sauces and sausages and use all-natural ingredients, many of which is imported direct from Italy. 1 Connaught Place, Jardine House, Central, 2521-2332.

If you’re out in Happy Valley swing by The Jockey for mussels all February, such as the classic steamed mussels with garlic white wine cream sauce, Italian red sauce or mussels marinaire.

For brunch with an Indian twist, I headed over to Jashan for the $98 all-you-can-eat buffet based on the best street food from all parts of India. As any foodie will tell you, this is one of the funnest parts of eating in India; I couldn’t pronouce half the dishes I tried but remember plenty of curries, chicken tikkas and a fantastic vindaloo. 1/F, Amber Lodge, 23 Hollywood Rd., Central, 3105-5300.

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