Summer menu review (2019): Casa Lisboa, a Portuguese restaurant in Central, Hong Kong
New meaty summer specials at this contemporary Portuguese restaurant in Central
How can one eat light in a city like Hong Kong? Delicious temptations are everywhere! Since the weather is already humid and muggy, you’d think I might be gravitating towards salads or something but I’m not. For one, there’s actually a severe dearth of good salad places in this city (I only really like Nood Food) and for two, I’m leaning towards the Intermittent Fasting method for staying in shape for summer. Always better to splurge on what’s delicious, aka tasty albeit heavy summer specials, I think and cut back in other areas.
Casa Lisboa has long been my favourite Portuguese restaurant in town. Having checked out a few of its seasonal menus now, I have to say that the seafood-focused Taste of Lusitania from summer 2018 was my absolute favourite. A year later, I can still remember the creamy-sweet sauces and interesting ingredients in the clams in coconut milk and the fish and seafood Moqueca. I’ve even asked Chef Fabio to bring the Moqueca back alas without success. But life goes on and I was excited to feast on the summer 2019 specials that was put together by Chef Fabio, Casa Lisboa’s Executive Chef, and Jesus Pascual, Group Executive Chef of Advance Caterers Limited which owns Casa Lisboa. In case you didn’t know, both chefs are youthful but have extensive experience cooking at Michelin-starred restaurants such as Feitoria and Ill Gallo d’Oro in Portugal (Fabio) and Fogony and Les Cols in Spain (Jesus).
So what do the chefs have for you this summer? Switching things up from last summer, the new specials are mostly meat dishes.
I love the richness of bone marrow and the buttery-earthiness of foie gras separately, but it was the first time I’d had them together in the Casa Lisboa Bone Marrow ($140). The two ingredients are combined, topped with caramelized onions cooked in port and balsamic, and served with crispy toast. Interestingly the resulting paste was subtly flavoured and the strengths of the bone marrow and foie sort of cancelled each other out. But the dish worked when eaten all together: paste, onions and toast.
A traditional Cabidela is cooked with chicken blood and vinegar, but Casa Lisboa’s summer version is decidedly lighter. The Guinea Fowl Cabidela ($295) uses guinea broth instead of blood and Portuguese dark beer instead of vinegar. The result is a comforting, homey dish with tender meat, juicy morels, and a flavour-saturated risotto-like base.
This Short Ribs with Alheira Migas ($310) came very lightly seasoned and with a small bowl of ‘alheira migas’ which is a breadcrumb-based side dish with kale, white beans, and a game sausage. The ingredients were great in this dish though the overall taste was a little bland.
The last meat dish we tried was the Iberico Pork Chop with Apple and Madeira Sauce ($280). While I would have liked the pork to have been more tender, I really loved the combination of the pork and jus with the spiced, buttery chopped apple accompaniment.
If you’re not feeling meat, then the summer menu also offers an eggplant, tomato and zucchini Vegagna ($128) which tastes a lot like ratatouille.
And don’t skip the lovely Mango and Passionfruit Burrata ($90) for dessert, with the fresh and fluffy “burrata” made from Mascarpone cheese and cream. Or the fresh, sparkly Gazela green wine (aka white wine made with young grapes).
Casa Lisboa’s cooking is always consistent and they use great ingredients. Last summer’s menu was still the high point for me as I thought the dishes were highly creative (dishes from each of the Portuguese colonies!) and contemporary. The past winter menu and this new summer menu feature homier, like mom used to make-type dishes which, while nice, are heavier and not as exciting to me. A meal at Casa Lisboa will always be a good experience with the bright atmosphere, friendly service, open kitchen and quality cooking but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more brighter, punchier dishes next time.
2/F, Parekh House, 63 Wyndham St, Central, 2905 1168