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Acme, Rushcutters Bay

I’ve heard and seen many photos of the famous baloney sandwich on my feed, as I am sure most of you have also! Acme is the new-ish kid on the block which can be found in Ruschutters Bay. Head by Chef Mitch Orr – ex 121BC, Duke Bistro. The menu is modern italian and food is designed to share – small plates and pasta.

We started with the rockemelon, prosciutto (AUD6) – two long juicy blocks of sweet rockmelon coated in a prosciutto crumb. I love the salt and sweet combo but my parents thought this was a little weird even though they have had rockmelon wrapped with prosciutto before.

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Next the toast, spanner crab, mascarpone (AUD16) – this was a hit amongst the diners – crab pieces mixed with mascarpone cheese on a toasted sandwich. Even the table behind us ordered this instead of dessert!

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The famous baloney sandwich (AUD8) – 2 per serving, I was never a big fan of baloney when growing up but this was oddly good! The small house-made white bread was fluffy and light and i loved tomato sauce that came with it. The sausage was thin and silky smooth that it melted in your mouth.

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I have to say, I was slightly disappointed with the fettuccine, spring vegetables, black sesame (AUD16). I get the al dente concept but the pasta was definitely under cooked – it was rather hard and chewy. Shame, as the flavours were pretty good!

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The lasagna, mushroom, sheep’s curd (AUD20) was another disappointment for us. Not only was the serving small, but the three sheet (size of a playing card) was SO undercooked that it was border line inedible. The mushrooms however, were cooked perfectly!

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I was definitely looking forward to the macaroni, pigs head and egg yolk (AUD18) and it was definitely better than the first two! I loved the pig’s head brisket, which was slightly fried, and the fresh chilli gave it that extra flavouring, although I think more chilli would give it that extra kick!

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The wholemeal bucatini, goat, nduja, olive (AUD22) was definitely a winner amongst the diners. The bucatini was slightly denser and thicker than norm, and i loved the goat ragu with spicy nduja.

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Lastly malloreddus, prawn, old bae (AUD22) – my favourite type of pasta, as you can scoop the sauce with the pasta, this dish had lots of flavour and like the macaroni had a nice spicy kick to it!

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I have to say though, I wasn’t blown away with any of the dishes. I have eaten at Duke before and really enjoyed it, and also at Buzo – the pasta there was definitely fantastic. I was expecting the same at Acme but unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the same expectations. The first two pasta we ordered probably threw us off, and even though the last three pasta saved the dining experience, it was nothing to rave home about. It was missing something, some punch to the flavours, I have definitely had better pasta at Buzo (esp when Mitch was there). Service though was fantastic and friendly, maybe it was a bad night for us as I know a lot of people raved about this place, who knows.

Reservation is definitely recommended, the place was packed, and it has been packed since open night.

GA’s rating: 6 / 10

Acme Restaurant

56 Bayswater Road

Rushcutters Bay, 2011

Sydney, Australia

Ph: +61 2 8068 0932

ACME on Urbanspoon

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Cecconi’s Italian Restaurant, Soho, Hong Kong

I am always on the hunt for good Italian restaurants as ‘The Mother’ really likes Italian cuisine. We’ve been to 208, Trattoria Doppio Zero– to name a few but have never been to Cecconi’s before which is part of the Dining Concepts Group. Located in Soho on Elgin Street, Cecconi’s served diners ‘traditional italian favourites with modern and delightfully innovative dishes’. The menu is quite vast and everything on the menu sounded wonderful.

We started with some bread which Dragon demolished half of it. We also asked the chef to make her some pasta – just plain tomato based pasta and it was a generous serving. The pasta was al dente, the sauce perfect and no doubt Dragon demolished this! All by herself!

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I started with roasted figs with goat’s cheese, flat pancetta and honey mustard dressing. I love figs and believe it or not have not eaten that many here in Hong Kong! The figs were beautifully cooked, and the goat’s cheese, generous gave it a nice kick – probably too much goat’s cheese for my liking but it was still wonderful.

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‘The Mother’ opt for the spaghetti with crab, garlic, chili, tomato, basil and toasted bread crumbs. He absolutely loved it, so much that he didn’t offer me any and did not say a single word!

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For main, I couldn’t go past the roasted pork loin with braised red cabbage and crispy pork belly. The crispy pork belly was fantastic – crispy skin and tender mouthwatering meat. The roasted pork loin was also incredibly tender and the red cabbage was a wonderful addition.

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‘The Mother’ opt for the peppered duck breast and confit dug leg with sweet potato mash and lime jus. The duck was beautifully cooked and extremely tender. My gripe would be the sweet potato mash and lime jus – I didn’t think it went well with the duck, making it too rich in my humble opinion. ‘The Mother’ enjoyed it which is important.

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Unfortunately we were too full for dessert. I hear the tiramisu is the highlight at this restaurant – shame, as we both love tiramisu! Service was friendly and they were very accommodating with Dragon. The restaurant was a little dark for my liking but the food I thought was pretty good, and would be more than happy to try their other dishes!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Cecconi’s Italian Restaurant

43 Elgin Street

Soho, Central

Ph: +852 2147 5500

Panino Gusto, Central, Hong Kong

I love a good sandwich – the bread is important, then the filling! However,it has been difficult to find a good sandwich in Hong Kong. Panino Giusto has been opened for a while now, it offers diners authentic Italian panini, desserts, espresso and wine. It is located on the 3rd floor of the IFC shopping mall, and although it’s small and busy around lunch time, it is quite a cool hang-out spot, especially the view overlooking the harbour.

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Menu is well all panini with different types of fillings ranging from beef, ham, proscuitto, turkey and even vegetarian. ‘The Mother’ started with the coffee and it was a pretty decent coffee which was served with a nice little block of ice cream coated with chocolate!

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We shared the tartufo – parma ham, brie, tomato, rocket, alba truffle oil (HKD98) – everything I really love in a sandwich! The truffle oil really gave it a nice rich flavour and loved the combination of parma ham and brie (although I think the brie could have been melted a little more!). The bread itself I thought was ok though, definitely had better bread in Sydney!

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The montage – rosemary and sage roast beef, tomato, rocket, lemon, extra-virgin olive oil (HKD88). ‘The Mother’ really enjoyed the roast beef, but I definitely prefer the ham, especially with the truffle oil!

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Overall I thought it was ok. It’s better than most places I have tried but considering I don’t work nearby, I don’t think I would make the trek.  I know ‘The Mother’ has been a couple of times and really enjoy it, especially the apollo – roast turkey breast, tomato, mozzarella, and mustard sauce! I have definitely been utterly spoilt by the choices of bread in Sydney, nothing really compares it in Hong Kong unfortunately and I am indeed looking forward to indulging when I am back later in the year!

GA’s ratings: 6.5 / 10

Panino Gusto

Shop 3077, Podium Level Three

ifc mall, 8 Finance Street,

Central, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2564 7000

Ciak – in the kitchen, Central, Hong Kong

Ciak – in the kitchen has been opened for a while now, it is located on the 3/F of landmark where three-sixty used to be. Now there’s also Urban Bakery Works, Pret and Ciak which is a casual dining venture by Italian chef Umberto Bombana of three-Michelin-starred 8 1/2 Ozzo e Mezzo.

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There are two sections of the restaurant, a walk-in section for buying take away and a restaurant section for eating in. Now the choices for walk-in section is very limited, they have soups, salads, pizzas and desserts on offer which are ordered directly from the counters.

I was here for lunch and opt for the set lunch. I had a quick look at the a-la-carte menu and it was not cheap. 2 courses for HKD268 but the option i have to say was pretty good.

The bread was nicely warm, fresh from the oven

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We both started with the mushroom soup – it was deliciously creamy and hearty and a perfect way to start the meal.

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I couldn’t go past the char-grilled US sirloin steak with arugula salad. I was a little surprised when it arrived on the table – the serving was TINY but it was excellent. Succulent, tender and cooked to perfection.

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R opt for pan-fried salmon, french bean and mashed potato. I am always a little wary about ordering salmon, most of the time it is over cooked but this was perfect, pink on the inside and wasn’t dry. Her gripe was that the same as mine – definitely could have eaten more of it.

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Unfortunately I didn’t have time for dessert, however, the chocolate brownie with hazelnut ice cream sounds good. I have always enjoyed at Ozzo, so really enjoyed my meal here, even though I didn’t even try the pizza or pasta – definitely next time!

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Ciak – In the Kitchen

Shop 327-333, 3/F, The Landmark

15 Queen’s Road

Central, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2522 8869

La Casa Ristorante, Russell Lea, Sydney

I have heard wonderful things about this restaurant, La Casa Ristorante which can be found on the busy street of Lyons Road in Russell Lea. Now Russell Lea is not a suburb I go very often but I have noticed that there are a few restaurants along this strip. Definitely worth checking out on my next visit to Sydney!

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My bro’s birthday was coming up, it was a shame that I couldn’t extend my visit! We decided to come here for dinner, I had left the reservation quite late but thankfully managed to get a table. The place was BUSY, it must be a good sign we all thought! The menu was vast, it took us a while to decide what we want. We started with the garlic wood fire pizza (AUD9) and this went so quickly that when I looked up for a second piece it was ALL GONE!

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We couldn’t go past the Don Pietro – tomato, mozzarella, hot Sicilian salami, capsicum, olives (AUD 22) – loved the thin base pizza!

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F couldn’t go past the spaghetti ai fruitti di mare e pomodoro – spaghetti pan tossed with mussels, octopus, calamari, prawns, fish fillet tomato concise, garlic, chilli and parsley (AUD26) – a favourite amongst the diners.

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The taglierini al tonne e aromi catanese – housemade hand cut linguini with yellow-fin tuna, capers, chili, limoncello lemons, parsley leaves, black olives and toasted pine nuts were good but lacked a little ump – not enough chilli they said.

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I ordered the corn fed range chicken Maryland which came with potato mash – the original version had traces of nuts so the chef kindly made Dragon and I one with just potato mash and it was perfect. Tender chicken and creamy potato mash – perfect dinner for Dragon!

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We noticed someone near by having the Lombata di Manzo con peperonata, jus (AUD38) – 400g riverina grass fed marble score 2 + rib eye sautéed red capsicum salad beef jus and couldn’t resist. The steak was cooked to perfection, it was definitely not enough for the 6 of us!

The polpette di casa – La Casa’s famous meatballs served with our pane di casa baked fresh daily on the premises (AUD17) were also a hit. (sorry no pic, it was so blurry!)

We were really all quite full and considered dessert, however, they ran out of tiramisu! Probably a blessing in disguise as I am sure I wasn’t the only one who were about to unbutton their jeans! Food was really good, I am sure the family will be back soon. I definitely wouldn’t hesitate!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

La Casa Ristorante

271 Lyons Road

Russell Lea, NSW, Sydney

Ph: +61 2 9712 3882

La Casa Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Orto Vino Ristorante, Central, Hong Kong

Orto Vino can be found on 11 Stanley Street. I may have mentioned previously that I am going through the restaurants one by one. I have eaten at all the Japanese restaurants – there are only 3 there, the Taiwanese place and the Vegetarian place. Orto Vino is a newish addition, I can’t remember what was there previously. The restaurant is quite spacious and offers diners a two-course set lunch for around HKD158 + 10%.

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We started with focaccia and some balsamic reduction and black truffle oil.

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Entree consists of daily soup or salad. We both opt for the latter which was a caesar salad. The salad was light and simple – nothing special I thought.

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J couldn’t go past the spinach and ricotta cheese ravioli in butter and sage sauce. It sounded good and who can say no to sage sauce but thought it lacked flavour. Thought the ravioli was a little tough – not cooked through enough.

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I opt for the pork fillet with ham, potatoes and vegetables. The pork was ultra thin, and a little on the tough side. The ham really made it salty – I have definitely have had better pork fillet that’s for sure!

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Diners can pay an extra HKD35 for dessert, however, I was quite full. Overall, it was OK, would I be back? Probably not very soon. The other dishes on the menu sounded good but there are definitely better options of restaurant on 11 Stanley Street.

GA’s ratings: 6 / 10

Orto Vino Ristorante

3F, 11 Stanley Street

Central, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2327 4884

Il Milione, Central, Hong Kong

Il Milione Bar and Ristorante Italiano is named ‘after the fabled book of travels by Marco Polo.’ The restaurant is quite glamorous and very sparkly. It is located in Central on the ground floor of Hutchinson House. It offers diners a set lunch menu (2 or 3 courses), a la carte and 5-course dinner tasting menu priced at HKD900 per head.

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It is run by Chef Marco Gubbiotti, officially representing Umbria as the region’s Culinary Constultant and Giancarlo Mancino, an award wining mixologist who created and owns an Italian label. I came here with a friend for lunch and opt for the 2 course lunch menu. We started with the welcome drink, I can’t for the life of me remember what it is! Think it was tomato of some sort.

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The buffalo mozzarella and Umbrian tomato salad was incredibly fresh and delicious.

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J had the marinated fresh salmon with ginger, fennel and orange salad and extra virgin olive oil. Unfortunately I didn’t have any of this, but J said it was excellent and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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I couldn’t go past the pork ribs marinated and baked with sautéed spinach. It wasn’t what I expected. The pork ribs were deboned, however it was incredibly tender that it just melted in my mouth.

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J had the fussili with seafood ragout and tomato. The pasta was el dente, the seafood was fresh, however, I thought it lacked a little flavouring, salt.

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Unfortunately we were too full for 3 courses, but received some petite fours. From left to right, almond cookies, chocolate truffles and some sort of almond cookies which I couldn’t have.

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Service was extremely polite. I wouldn’t mind trying their cocktails and dinner menu next time.

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Il Milione

Shop Nos.16-21, G/F, Hutchison House,

10 Harcourt Road

Central, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2481 1120