Interview with Chef Umberto Bombana of Hong Kong’s 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo

Shaved truffle pasta Otto e Mezzo
Homemade tagliolini with butter, Parmesan cheese and a lot of shaved white truffle (from a visit in October, 2015)

Having your own restaurant in Hong Kong can be a nightmare. Sky-high rents, changing food tastes, fluctuating food costs and the need to rely on international air freight for most products can make it a logistics and financial nightmare. To last a year is impressive, to last five is amazing and ten is almost unheard of. I just returned from an amazing foodie adventure to Hong Kong and returned to 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, my favorite restaurant in the world. The restaurant has been making diners happy since 2010.

Black truffle pasta
Homemade tagliolini with butter, Parmesan cheese and Melanosporum black truffle fondue, topped with shaved truffle (from a visit in March 2017)

I first dined at the Italian restaurant in October 2015 and was immediately struck by the authenticity of the food, the freshness of the products and the creativity of the menu. I also thought it was cool that Chef Bombana spent some time in Los Angeles, working in DTLA at the legendary Rex. For those who don’t know, Rex II Ristorante was the LA Italian restaurant from the late 1970s through the late 1990s. It was like a West Coast Studio 54 that also served amazing pasta.

Chef Umberto Bombana
Talking to the chef after my great lunch

Chef Umberto Bombana opened 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong’s Central area in 2010 and hasn’t looked back since. He received three coveted Michelin stars in 2012, and has continues to retain them, the only such Italian restaurant to ever achieve that status outside Italy.

Green vegetable risotto
Green vegetable risotto made with green herbs and topped with a morel mushroom

In 2015, after a phenomenal lunch celebrating white truffles (where everything, including the dessert, was covered in shaved truffle) I had a chance to sit down with Chef Bombana and talk about his background, his restaurant, his menu and his plans for the future.

Read more of Freddy Sherman’s take on travel on his Go World Travel Blog. You can also follow more of his adventures at blog and on his YouTube channel.

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