New Italian brunch review: Pirata in Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Brunch at the best value Italian restaurant in town
Pirata’s one of those restaurants that’s been around for a while but people still talk about and frequent it often. I went for the first time last year and it went down as one of my favourite dining experiences in Hong Kong. The atmosphere was good, the food was great, and the service was excellent. My friend and I sat by the kitchen and had a direct view of the dishes being made. Though we had plenty of food having decided to go big and try the dinner set menu, we couldn’t help but ooh and ahh at the other dishes being made. Over the course of the night, Borja, Pirata’s manager, kindly brought over an extra pasta dish and dessert for us to try, as well as two glasses of limoncello. I’d never had such friendly service in this city...and little did he know it was all happening on my one year anniversary of being in Hong Kong.
All this to say, I think what Pirata (and all of the Pirata Group’s restaurants) does so well is ensure its guests have a wonderful time in their establishments. You always leave feeling like that was time and money well spent.
So after my memorable first dinner experience, I couldn’t wait to go back and try their brunch ($298).
My friend and I were seated on the 30th floor, so our antipasti buffet was set up along the Vermuteria (vermouth bar); there’s also a larger area on the 29th floor. The selection was big enough for us, and included cold roast beef, smoked salmon, thinly sliced ham, parma ham, a variety of salads, and a section of cheeses. Nothing in the buffet was jaw dropping, but everything was fresh and satisfying. Our favourite was the smoked salmon - thick, fatty slices.
An Italian comfort food meal isn’t complete without meatballs, and we were delighted when the smells of parmesan, tomato sauce, meat and basil wafted over. The beef and pork meatballs were nice and fat; there were large chunks of bread crumbs inside which added to the “homemade” feeling.
We’d tried the asparagus flan our first time at Pirata and loved it. It tasted just as good the second time around - the flan was moist and eggy, and the parmesan fondue sauce was absolutely moreish.
The vitello tonatto was a new dish for us and, for those who’ve previously had Pirata’s brunch, replaces the fried mozzarella sandwich that used to be on the brunch menu. For those that haven’t had this before, thin slices of cooked tuna and veal form a base layer that is then covered with a thick layer of mayonnaise and sprinkled with caper berries. This was an interesting though slightly heavy dish, and we found the meat a bit dry.
There were two of us, so we could have chosen two regular sized mains or one large main to share. We were trying to be healthier because summer and so opted for the fish of the day (+ $48 per person). I was a bit hesitant at first because I find dealing with fish bones more trouble than it’s worth. But when our grilled sea bream arrived, I was excited for two reasons: one, because it looked and smelled fantastic, and two, because our lovely server Oscar said he’d be right back with the fish after he deboned it for us! The flesh was fresh and light, enhanced with white wine and olive oil. The other ingredients of charred cherry tomatoes, olives, rosemary and fat salt flakes added depth.
Our meal ended with the Chef’s Selection of desserts which on our day was a panna cotta and semifreddo. The panna cotta was so smooth and creamy, and served with a sweet not tart raspberry sauce. We were almost too full to try the semifredo, but did manage a few bits of the delicious frozen cream, hazelnut, melted chocolate concoction.
In a dining industry as competitive as Hong Kong’s, Pirata’s proving it has what it takes to last with its unpretentious yet stylish food and atmosphere. It’s just as good for casual family lunch (child friendly) as it is for a group birthday party. Don’t forget to pop-up to the rooftop for a lovely view of Wan Chai.
30F, 239 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai, 2887 0270