Italian family-style cuisine is the main concept at Ciao Chow, a large restaurant that offers a ground floor dining area that opens up into Lan Kwai Fong which makes it enticing for onlookers to gaze curiously towards the smells of an Italian woodfire pizza oven. The menu is extensive, from Italian cold cuts, antipasti, pasta and pizza, so we thought we would go straight to the source to find out what's what at Ciao Chow.
Enter Ms. Candice Suen, founder of Bite Limited (the group responsible for bringing Ciao Chow to HK). She gives us her thoughts on the main components of a good pizza, why a VPN is needed (not the China internet kind), what to order at Ciao Chow and what the most popular items are.
Interior of Ciao Chow
Ciao Chow is different because of its VPN; a certification that it alone holds for Hong Kong
We are currently awaiting to receive our VPN certification [VPN stands for Verace Pizza Napoletana which essentially means this is some "true Neapolitan pizza" action]. This will be the only certification in Hong Kong. In Asia, there are a few in China and Japan and a couple in Taiwan, I believe. There are various regulations for obtaining this certification, for example, types of flour, the pH value of water used must be within 6 to 7, sea salt must be used, certain types of dough mixers are approved, etc.
A good pizza consists of the best flour, tomatoes, cheese and a top notch oven
The basic 4 components that make a great pizza are the flour, the tomatoes, the cheese and of course, the oven. There are lots of variations in Hong Kong and you can see the extreme differences in each kind. It is a VPN secret where we source these premium ingredients from exactly, but the Italian pizza makers from VPN determine and source all of these things for us. This is the only way to attain the certification. They even teach you how to make mozzarella in-house just to adhere to their strict standards. If we have to import special items in; even ovens were shipped here specially for this restaurant and they were so heavy that the foundation had to be reinforced – especially given we have two!
The carbonara pizza is a must try
We suggest diners start with the basic margherita and work your way up from there! The carbonara pizza, though, is very popular. Carbonara pasta is a very popular dish in Hong Kong in general, with adults and children alike. We take the taste profile and re-invent it on top of a pizza! There’s a runny-yolked egg baked right on top of the pizza which adds a unique touch.
The margherita will forever reign
The margherita is the most famous pizza, and is consistently our top seller. Since it’s the most basic (with tomato, mozzarella, parmesan, basil and olive oil only), you can really taste the premium ingredients. Lots of people share pizzas so it’s a way for everyone to enjoy it as people have their own preferences on toppings. Also, it’s a favourite of the kids as they often like the most basic dishes.
The fiori di zucca pizza is hugely underrated
In Ciao Chow, it’s “fiori di zucca” which is topped with zucchini flowers. It’s very delicate and very delicious.
Make sure you try the Tomahawk steak, kale salad and Nutella banana ravioli
When my friends ask me the same question, I always say: Tomahawk steak (but this is a special and has to be ordered in advance and shared with a few friends), the kale salad, the Bolognese pasta (we make our pasta by hand everyday) and of course the Nutella banana ravioli.
Nutella banana ravioli