Restaurant review: Isola, an Italian restaurant with a view in IFC, Central, Hong Kong
New a la carte menu at this homestyle Italian spot in IFC
On a rainy spring evening, I made my way to Isola in IFC and wanted to pinch myself. The walk through the mall to the restaurant (and most of the restaurant itself) showcased Hong Kong’s gorgeous skyline. Dining with a view is always a treat. I’d eaten at Isola once before, for a work dinner about four years ago when I first moved to Hong Kong. At the time, I’d thought the view was the restaurant’s main attraction as the food hadn’t been memorable or filling. Now with a new chef and new menu, I wondered how the restaurant had changed.
Chef Corrado Michelazzo has been heading up Isola since last year but recently revamped the whole a la carte menu. Originally from Piedmont in Northwest Italy, he’s been in Asia since the early 2000s most recently launching the trendy 10 Corso Como in Shanghai. Though the menu remains mostly homestyle Italian dishes, there were a number of interesting and/or Asian cuisine-inspired dishes that I enjoyed very much.
We started with the Cappuccino di funghi porcini ($158), a wild mushroom soup with the texture of a cappuccino. This was smooth, rich, and delicious. A classic.
The La Piovra ($268) was one of the more unusual dishes. A smoky leg of grilled octopus was accented with lemon and raspberry, and accompanied with an eggplant puree. I really enjoyed the acidic fruit flavours with the octopus - perfect for the spring and summer months.
Isola’s take on the Il Vitello Tonatto ($198) was lighter and more elegant than ones I’ve had before. Thin slices of veal loin were topped with an airy tuna dressing and punctuated with salty bites of anchovies and capers.
Moving onto the pastas, the Ravioli alla Carbonara ($288) was a total hit for me. The homemade ravioli were filled with a vegetarian carbonara sauce, in the style of Shanghai xiaolongbao. With a strongly flavoured Italian truffle sauce and shaved truffles… it was an indulgent and worth-the-calories dish.
Note that we had tasting portions on our evening so the actual sizes should be slightly larger. So my plate of Le Linguine all’Astice ($368), the lobster pasta, didn’t have a whole lobster as would come if you ordered this dish a la carte. The spicy fresh tomato sauce in this dish was fantastic and absolutely moreish. Unfortunately, my lobster chunks were slightly overcooked.
For our mains, we sampled dishes including the Il Branzino al sale ($398) which is sea bass baked in a sea salt and herb shell. It had a nice salty, herby flavour but the flesh was a bit dry.
We ended our meal with Chef’s new SweetArt ($488) special. It’s performed in about three minutes, starts with various sauces being planted on a large glass platform, and ends with scented dry ice for effect. The desserts included will be Isola’s desserts of the day; on our evening this included rum baba, macarons, cheesecake, chocolate cake, a delicious vanilla cake with popcorn, and more. While this type of dessert isn’t new for Hong Kong (there was a craze for this type of OTT ‘live art’ dessert a few years back), this one has meaning as it is inspired by an art piece called Toy Landscape by local urban artist Angela Yuen which is currently on display in Isola’s private room.
Sometimes I can still be a bit of a snob when it comes to mall restaurants as I think they are often overpriced and underwhelming. While Isola’s prices are on the higher side, the taste is there now. I’d happily return for any of the starters and pastas the next time I’m in IFC.
One International Finance Centre, Shop 2075, 2/F, Harbour View St, Central, 2383 8765