All bluster and no soul, 8.5 Otto e Mezzo Bombana is closing in on its seventh year anniversary, but has yet to distinguish itself as a top dining option.
It’s basically living off its Bombana name and very well known Hong Kong outlet, which was the first Italian restaurant in the world outside of Italy to be awarded 3 Michelin stars. While that’s a fantastic achievement to be sure, that doesn’t mean much to us unless they’re bringing the goods in Macau too.
I visited Otto about six months after it opened in December 2015, during my second stay at the Ritz-Carlton. The Ritz staff had warned me before going, saying guests were fairly lukewarm on the restaurant, mostly citing high costs and minuscule serving sizes.
True to form, the night I was there a couple seated beside me complained about the same thing, and had to end their disappointing birthday dinner at McDonald’s, just so they could get enough to eat.
Wanting to give Otto a fair shot, I ordered the most expensive thing on their menu, the five course Chef’s Tasting Menu with wine pairing for $2000 Mops. The meal didn’t get off to a good start with the first dish, the abalone carpaccio. The best you could say was that it was balanced – the fish wanted to get freaky and the caviar kept it line, but it wasn’t stupendous in any way.
The sea urchin with royal scampi came out next and I could barely finish it. Easily the worst dish of the night, the soup was extremely bitter and it needed more vegetables or seasonings or something to combat the rather fishy, offensive taste.
The last two selections though were pure gold: the Triple A lamb rack and pasta with tagliolini and black truffles (which I forgot to take a picture of, sorry). Okay, so this is maybe where Otto gets it accolades from because both dishes were masterful. The lamb was a premium cut from New Zealand less than six months old, slow roasted to perfection, flawless in every way.
As for the tagilioni, it was prepared with a lot of mushrooms and just about the best pasta I’ve ever had, teeming with taste and texture, a true masterpiece of a dish. The set meal ended with a selection of desserts that were all okay: one lemon tart, raspberry jelly, and caramel milk chocolate with dried fruits and nuts.
So of the five selections on the set meal, two were mind-blowing, while three were forgettable fodder that fizzled. That’s more or less a .500 batting average, which is why I give 8.5 Otto e Mezzo Bombana 2.5 stars overall. At this price point, everything needs to be spectacular, but not enough at Bombana is. The food can have its moments but isn’t uniformly great, while the small lackluster venue really precludes it from providing the type of atmosphere you need to have a special dining experience. It really looks and feels like a restaurant in the middle of a shopping arcade, more retail than riveting, more commercial than incandescent.
I suppose rich people need something to spend their money on so they come here, but don’t make the same mistake. Head to Hong Kong for what I can only assume is the real bonafide Bombana experience.