When an Italian chef is the sole owner of a restaurant, things are off to a flying start. At Giando, Chef Gianni Caprioli makes it a personal mission to ensure that only high-quality ingredients are used. In fact, I was told that 95 per cent of the restaurant's ingredients are directly imported from Italy – including the eggs.
Chefs at other top Italian restaurants in Hong Kong have been spotted eating at Giando a number of times. I first came here on a Saturday and returned the next Sunday. With this in mind, it’s not a question of whether you should dine here but a question of what to order when you arrive.
Had I dined here earlier, Giando would definitely be amongst the 5 Italian Restaurants in Hong Kong that Really Stand Out, for being the most authentic and featuring the best-quality ingredients.
Weekend brunch at $338 for 3 courses
I love my ‘epic brunches', and this place would rank high if I ever came up with such a list. The three-course set menu runs from 12–3pm on weekends and includes one appetizer, one main course and one dessert. Add on $150 for two hours of free-flow Prosecco.
Top-quality, fresh Italian ingredients at the appetizer buffet
For appetizers, you can pick a dish from the set menu or go for the buffet. I say, definitely go for the buffet. The variety is sufficiently wide and the quality of everything was top notch. Understandably, most restaurants serve some substandard items as part of any buffet, but this doesn’t apply at Giando.
They had six types of tomatoes on offer (who knew there were so many varieties?), and these were fresh, crunchy and delicious. You will definitely want to load up on these tomatoes because there’s also an excellent selection of cheese to accompany them. The stracciatella was my favourite.
They also had delicious marinated smoked salmon, the best anchovies I’ve ever tried and three types of very good quality Italian ham, amongst other highlights.
17 main course options
With so many main course choices, ranging from salads to pastas to meats, this is where deliberation is required. On both my visits, a 10-15 minute debate took place before we had all made our decisions.
I was lucky that I came with a relatively large group on both visits, so I got to sample a variety of main dishes. The winners were – hands down – the homemade spinach lasagne with bolognese sauce and the prime beef steak tagliata (served in slices).
Homemade spinach lasagne with bolognese sauce
It may look (and be) calorific, but it’s worth it because it could be the best lasagne you’ve ever had – at least a few of us thought it was anyway. The pasta sheets are made with spinach, and the sauce was super cheesy and creamy. It was layered with some meat sauce – it’s a classic done perfectly.
300g prime beef steak tagliata (+$118)
This rib-eye needs little introduction, especially after you see the above photo. You need to add $118 for this dish, but given its size (300g), it’s absolutely worth it. More importantly, it was cooked to perfection – in fact, better than a lot of steakhouses. The outer edges were charred and crispy, while the centre was perfectly red. Even the potatoes on the side were delicious.
Pan-fried buffalo mozzarella toast
I was tempted by the pan-fried buffalo mozzarella toast – it sounded interesting. But with an abundance of burrata and stracciatella cheeses in the appetizer buffet, it’s almost too much of a good thing. Plus, it’s a little underwhelming compared with the other dishes. Granted, it’s a delicious grilled cheese, but it was definitely less satisfying and complex in comparison to the pasta dishes.
Gnocchi with octopus ragu
The gnocchi with octopus ragu was unique and interesting. It’s a good option for those who are more adventurous and don’t want to stick with typical dishes like steak or lasagne.
The best tiramisu in Hong Kong?
The tiramisu I make at home is pretty delicious. Seriously, a number of people tell me it’s the best they’ve ever had – check out the recipe here. My family members are always disappointed when they have tiramisu outside home and have started to avoid ordering it altogether to avoid disappointment.
Having tried the tiramisu (+18) on my first visit to Giando, I knew this was a likely contender to beat my homemade version. Indeed, my family were immensely impressed and thought it was the best tiramisu they had had in Hong Kong. And as a result of this brunch, they also had many suggestions for my no-longer-perfect tiramisu recipe!
Giant's tiramisu had an excellent espresso flavour. I personally prefer a greater cream-to-ladyfingers ratio, but it was very custardy. The colour of the cream/custard was distinctly yellow, and that’s because the chef insists on using Italian eggs, which are much deeper orange/yellow in colour.
Amedei chocolate mousse
The chocolate mousse (+$18) was honestly no less perfect. Made using Amedei chocolate from Tuscany, it was chocolate-y to the max.
I was surprised at how yellow in colour Giando's vanilla gelato is. I was then told this is because, once again, Italian eggs were used. Regardless, the vanilla gelato was amazing.
I was therefore super excited to try their pistachio and coffee flavours too, on my second visit. The pistachio was overwhelmingly nutty in flavour (and it tasted more like almond than pistachio), which we didn’t really like. The coffee was strong in its espresso flavour and solid too. But I have to say the vanilla was a clear winner.
Verdict: excellent value for excellent ingredients
At the end, it wasn’t really $338 per person because some of us ordered dishes that required a bit extra and some of us got free-flow Prosecco. But despite the additions, all of us felt the meal was well worth the price tag.
We were generally most impressed by the delicious burrata and the steak. But I personally thought the selection of excellent-quality tomatoes and the lasagne were the highlights.
The ambience here is also really nice – it’s casual and comfortable. You can book a private area if you’re in a big group. I love my brunches, and although the food was not exactly 'brunchy', this is definitely a place I’d return to again.
G/F, Tower 1, Starcrest, 19 Star Street, Wanchai, 2511 8912
This article was originally posted on lolleroll.com.