We booked a table at Da Via last month and invited a bunch of Foodie Club members to experience an authentic Italian meal. Nestled in bustling Wan Chai beside Hong Kong's slithering tramline, Da Via's big open windows invite passersby with open arms into their warm and relaxing environment.
Step in on any given day and you'll be able to view pasta being made fresh on the spot and the chefs preparing their selection of antipasti. We arrived to find a specially tailored menu for Foodie Club, with Founder Walter Kern and Culinary Host Alejandro waiting to guide us through the menu. The pair have years of culinary expertise and embrace the slow food philosophy of providing good quality Italian gastronomy with integrity.
First stop on our journey was a variety of Italian cold cuts and a stew of vegetables spiked with the occasional plump raisins, making the first course sweet, salty and deliciously moreish.
Da Via's Grande Tavola (fine Italian cold cuts)
Next up was a beautiful mixed antipasti tasting platter of octopus and potato, pesto penne, roasted vegetables, and slices of prosciutto served with freshly baked ciabatta. The selection created a perfect balance of contrasting flavours and a good ratio of carbs to protein.
Mixed Antipasti Tasting Platter
We were full even before we reached the mains, but happily shared their mezzemaniche mancini - a short pasta with tomato sauce and seafood. The sauce was silky and smooth, with strong flavours of clams, shrimps and octopus. The dish was punctuated with the satisfying bounce from the freshly made pasta. An Italian white wine, Tasca d'Almerita, from Sicily, enhanced the fresh taste of the Italian seaside (Tasca d'Almerita, leone d'Almerita, Sicilia I.G.T. Sicilia).
Mezzemaniche Mancini (short pasta) with tomato sauce and seafood
Moving north from Sicily, we were carried on another pasta journey with pappardelle, a homemade flat pasta, dressed in a Tuscan veal ragu with trumpet mushrooms. The hearty sauce coated the delicate shreds of veal and melted in our mouths, making the dish an instant favourite amongst Foodies on the night.
Pappardelle, homemade egg flat pasta with Tuscan veal ragu and trumpet mushrooms
Last but not least, was the sweet and creamy panna cotta. Served in small jars layered with airy cream and fresh strawberry jam, the strawberries balanced the milkiness of the cream perfectly.
Walter and Alejandro introduced us to a wide selection of authentic dishes from the North to the South of Italy that transported us to the gastronomic world of Italian cuisine. With quizzes and prize giveaways on the night, it was certainly the most interactive and educational Foodie Club tasting thus far.
Da Via is open from 8am–11pm, offering early morning breakfasts before work, quick snacks during the day, substantial lunches and easy-going dinners. As it showed at our event, each dish is made with the philosophy of helping people reconnect and rediscover the simple pleasures of authentic cooking.
By Hazel Hui
Photo credit: Patrick Lee
Da Via, G/F, 14-16 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, 3956 9873