Mercato Hong Kong: Modern Italian By Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten

The much anticipated and talked about restaurant Mercato, helmed by acclaimed Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, has finally landed in Hong Kong after four years of success in Shanghai at Three on the Bund. Located in the California Tower in LKF, Mercato Hong Kong serves up family-style modern Italian food in a large, open space dining area. The food and drinks are reasonably priced given the quality and location, and you’re sure to leave Mercato feeling satisfied and full.

Vibe At Mercato Hong Kong

The dining area is quite large and open; the bar is at the front entrance and a semi-open kitchen is at the back with dining tables in between. The decor is minimal and the lighting is quite dark (which certainly did not help when taking photos during dinner!). What really caught my eye was the beautiful outdoor terrace – a great place to grab drinks after work. We went to Mercato Hong Kong on what I thought was going to be a quiet Tuesday evening, however the place was buzzing with people; a testament to the quality of food and drink served.

Starters

mercato hong kong - ricotta, strawberry
House Made Ricotta with Strawberry, Olive Oil and Garlic Bread (HK$118)
mercato hong kong - endive sugar snap pea salad
Endive and Sugar Snap Pea Salad, Parmesan Dressing (HK$108)
mercato hong kong - calamari
Lightly Fried Calamari, Spicy Tomato Sauce with Black Olives and Capers (HK$118)

We began with the much talked about House Made Ricotta with Strawberry, Olive Oil and Garlic Bread (HK$118). I’m used to a thicker and more rich ricotta cheese, whereas Chef Jean-Georges’s ricotta was much lighter, allowing the delicate flavours of the strawberry jam to shine through. Not exactly what I had initially pictured this dish to look like, the Endive and Sugar Snap Pea Salad, Parmesan Dressing (HK$108) was a perfect sharing dish. The ingredients came together well, however most ended up falling  onto my plate as I gracelessly ate it with my hands. I had my heart set on Mercato Hong Kong’s Lightly Fried Calamari, Spicy Tomato Sauce with Black Olives and Capers (HK$118), which did not disappoint. True to its name, the calamari had a crispy, light batter that wasn’t oily, putting the spotlight on the full flavour of the fresh squid.

Mains

mercato hong kong - black truffle pizza
Black Truffle, Three Cheeses, and Farm Egg (HK$238)
mercato hong kong - short rib
Crispy Beef Short Rib, Polenta Fries, Smoked Chili Chianti Glaze (HK$428)

The wood oven pizza at Mercato was some of the best I’ve had in Hong Kong. I especially loved the Black Truffle, Three Cheeses, and Farm Egg Pizza (HK$238) that came with a good portion of cheese and truffle, however, it seemed quite small given the price. Though it didn’t look too appetizing, the Crispy Beef Short Rib, Polenta Fries, Smoked Chili Chianti Glaze (HK$428) was another favourite around the table. The short rib was not at all what I had expected; the outer layer was fried to a delicious crisp, while the inner meat was soft and pulled apart easily with just a fork.

Dessert

mercato hong kong - italian cream cake, raspberry
Italian Cream Cake, Raspberry Sorbet with Fresh Raspberry and Sicilian Pistachios (HK$68)
mercato hong kong - sundae
Sundae with Salted Caramel Ice Cream Candied Peanuts, Popcorn, Whipped Cream and Hot Fudge (HK$68)

You can’t really go wrong with dessert at Mercato Hong Kong, since everything is priced at HK$68. If you enjoy lighter, fruity desserts, try the Italian Cream Cake, Raspberry Sorbet with Fresh Raspberry and Sicilian Pistachios (HK$68). Besides the picture-perfect plating of this dessert, the cake was spongy, the cream was light, and the raspberry added a touch of refreshing sweetness. For those who prefer an indulgently rich dessert, the Sundae with Salted Caramel Ice Cream Candied Peanuts, Popcorn, Whipped Cream and Hot Fudge (HK$68) is a must order. I loved the contrasting textures of the crunchy popcorn and candied peanuts, paired with the smooth fudge and ice cream; a devilishly delicious dessert.

Verdict

Mercato Hong Kong serves dishes that use fresh and high-quality ingredients in a minimalist setting, living up to the buzz surrounding its opening. The dishes at Mercato are mainly sharing plates, so it’s best to go with a small group of friends to try a wider range of items on the menu. You can’t leave Mercato Hong Kong without trying the calamari, pizza, and dessert sundae – I promise they won’t disappoint!

Mercato Hong Kong
8/F California Tower
Central
Hong Kong

Tel: 3706 8567 

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