Landmark Alexandra, shop 202
18, Chater road
Hong Kong, Cina
Only a few days ago came the news that Umberto Bombana and his Ottoemezzo in Hong Kong came fourth in the Asia’s 50 Best 2017. The restaurant has been in this list since 2013 (39th). For years now, and exactly from 2011 when the second edition of the Michelin Hong Kong (with Macao and Taiwan) was first released, Ottoemezzo has been the only Italian three-starred restaurant outside Italy (in the first edition, in 2010, it got two stars).
Bombana, originally from Bergamo, has spent many years abroad, first in the US (at the famous Rex in Los Angeles) and then, since 1993, in Hong Kong. His career has been covered in all ways: “the leader of Italian cuisine in the world”; “the ambassador of Italy abroad”; the “master of old-days cuisine”. A sound person, both in terms of talent and generous physique, who’s been in the kitchen since he was a child “carefully observing his grandmother working as a cook in a noble family”. He doesn’t indulge in modernism or magic tricks.
His cured meat and cheese are the best you could find even if you lived between Zibello and the mountains of Alto Adige. His risotto comes from Lomellina and Bassa Padana. His truffle comes from Grinzane Cavour and the surroundings (the famous white truffle auction is broadcasted live in his restaurant in Hong Kong). His vegetables are cooked following regional tradition. To those who sometimes criticise him because “he dares” to include in the menu a few non-Italian ingredients, he replies that today’s cuisine is global. And Hong Kong is the crossroads of the new world. It would be silly not to profit of the best products available there. Hard to say he’s wrong. This is how his Ottoemezzo in Shanghai, with Riccardo La Perna (chef from Comiso) immediately received two stars in October 2016, when the Shanghai Michelin Guide was first published.
Early in 2017, PresidentSergio Mattarella, when visiting the country chose Ottomoemezzo Shanghai for a private dinner. Ex Prime Minister Matteo Renzi made the same choice when visiting the second world power in 2016. And many important people, stars, entrepreneurs or just people who appreciate the best Italian cuisine follow their example. Not counting the Beijing outpost Opera Bombana a restaurant with a bakery/pizzeria on the top floor, and the most recent opening (August 2015) in Macao. So much so that today we can say Bombana is not only the most starred fine dining cluster abroad, but also the one with the most openings.
A journalist with the bad habit of xenophilia (natural, he's a Germanist) and food (he's from Modena ), he now lives a happy life in China, in Shanghai, building connections between East and West
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Acrobatics to buy food in Shanghai, today (photo Reuters/Aly Song)
Beijing at the beginning of the reopening (photo Washington Post)
Umberto Bombana at Identità Golose 2017. The great chef, originally from Val Seriana – one of the Italian hotspots of the virus – is now in voluntary quarantine in the UK with his children; he’ll soon return to Asia where he lives and works. He shares some words of hope and encouragement for Italy