Isono sits on 6th floor of PMQ, part of Drawing Room Concepts who, under the artistic eye of Joyce Wang, are known for striking interiors and refined Spanish, French and Italian dishes. Revisiting the space months on, it is worth noting the standard has continued only to improve, with cuisine being polished and service iterating to ensure the sophisticated crowd attracted is always awash with praise.
Few chefs are able to make all menu items sound as appealing as Executive Chef Paolo Casagrande has, but with the curse of choice upon us, we made decisions based on signatures and recommendations.
Of the starters, the coca bread with tomato ($32) is really unappealing, with bland tomatoes that tasted stewed and no trace of garlic present, as we would want from what seemed to mildly be chasing a “pan con tomate” theme. Onwards and upwards though, and the salted cod croquettes with alioli ($115/$195) more than make up for their weaker counterpart, perfectly seasoned to the point of making the alioli almost redundant. The mixed leaf salad ($88) was crisp, fresh and tender, with plenty of flavour which we find important even in a simple salad.
Infusing umami intensity into each grain, the meat paella ($210/$390) is the best in Hong Kong we have tried, and the point of difference may be lent by the slightly longer than average cooking time at a high heat, which cleverly did not overcook the rice but left a gorgeous crispy burnt edge the rice towards the outer rims of the pan.
The wild boar pappardelle ($148/$260) deserves it’s own restaurant, with rich pasta that is smeared with the heady ragout that bursts with aroma. Finished with parmesan cheese and paired with the satisfying, wide housemade pasta/Mancini pasta, this is a dish we would return for numerous times. Decent Italian food can require a bit of hunting in Hong Kong at times, and this dish tops the list for pastas in the Sheung Wan area.
Sides of chargrilled baby corn ($70) cooked in butter were so tasty they almost felt naughty, and the chargrilled baby bell peppers with piment d’Espellette ($70) were blackened and tender; just how they should be (and apparently we like ordering chargrilled babies. Hide yo' wife, hide yo' kids). These sat abreast the beouf bourguignon ($245/$470) and truffle mash ($80), which elicited moans from those assembled at the table (woah, steady). The beef is marbled and outrageously tender, which pairs exquisitely with the truffle mash that redefines the way one looks at potatoes forever more. If you come to Isono and order nothing else, these two are a must.
Dessert was a Domori molten chocolate cake ($90) with Bailey’s ice-cream that does everything a fondant and liquor laced cream should, and the Piemonte hazlenut crème brulee ($85) strays away from sickly sweetness that can often trademark the french dessert with the effective use of precisely burnt hazelnuts.
During restaurant week (this week) Isono has a deal well worth taking advantage of, as the pappardelle and the beef bourguignon are both on the set lunch menu at the moment. Available all week, the deal is a good shout because both dishes can be quite the expensive option on the dinner menu.
Isono // 6F Block B, PMQ35 Aberdeen Street, Central // 2156 0688