Monday, April 11, 2016

A Rainy Dinner Date at Va Bene

Recently we had one of those nights where the muggy atmosphere finally relinquished its tenuous hold on the rainclouds and released a steady stream of rain in one slow, gentle, sweeping sigh of relief.  It was dark and sultry and moody and magical.

Earlier in the day, we had gone on a shopping trip and acquired some new clothes for Michael.  I was in the mood to wear heels.  These factors falling into place piece by piece seemed a beneficent sign from the universe that we needed to heed.  We needed to dress up and go out on an impromptu date night.

We decided to go to an Italian restaurant that was close by.  The area is huge by Hong Kong standards (such that as soon as I saw it I worried for their ability to keep their lease), with many lovely little private nooks and private dining areas.  They also have a clever little outdoor patio where patrons can eat or drink al fresco while indulging in their smokes.
The view from our booth
We started with a glass of wine (pour moi) and a Negroni (pour Michael).

Here, perusing our menus…

They gave us a complimentary bread basket to start.  It was hard not to eat all of it before our food came, and, indeed, we did devour it, along with the tasty extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

We immediately decided on the burrata cheese with roast tomatoes.  The burrata was a gloriously delicate, near-bursting purse full of tender, melting cheese.  The tomatoes were roasted so that their flavors pierced the creaminess of the cheese, and the basil garnish helped add extra flavor.

We also ordered a most interesting "potato cream" starter that was described to us as not quite a soup, not yet a mash.  Potato cream really is the best way to describe it, as it was a fluffy (not quite solid, not quite liquid) concoction with bits of salmon roe, capers, and lemon.  It was a bit "fishy" for Michael's taste, but it was very interesting and contained a complex layers of flavors and textures.

For our entrees, I chose the spicy penne (I have been on an arrabiata kick as of late), which was a very simple dish, but lovely in its execution.  It was perfectly al dente, the tomato sauce was robust and the heat index (in terms of both temperature and spice level) perfect.
Michael chose the osso bucco with saffron rice, which he really enjoyed.

Everything was lovely and presented good value for money, and I say that not lightly or easily.

We went in with very low expectations, as the restaurant had all the appearance of interior decor and flash but none of the promise of good tasting, quality fare.  But now, we know that this will be a repeat.

To end, the restaurant gave us complimentary shots of limoncello.

Va Bene
189 Queens Road West
Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong
+852 2845 5577

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