Wanchai, Hong Kong
Because I’m a glutton, after wrapping up our dim sum lunch at Summer Palace, I solicited my friend’s advice for last nibbles and bites on my last day in Hong Kong. I had about five hours to kill before dinner.
He recommended, among a few places, a nearby restaurant opened by a couple of paper boys called Classified (as in the advert section of a newspaper).
It was an excellent suggestion.
With a set of simple but exact directions, I found it without so much as a hair of doubt. (It’s at 31 Wing Fung Street in Wanchai, right around the corner from Three Pacific Place. You can’t miss it.)
What I ended up having was essentially a second lunch.
The place is tiny – with two large tables and a short row of counter stools. One wall of the restaurant is devoted entirely to wines, most of which were Italian, though quite a few New World wines were available as well.
Classified is a self-styled “mozzarella bar.” But a glance at their menu, which is chalked up on a board, proves that it’s much more than just a cheese shop.
They have have a smattering of Italian-coloured foods – paninis, pastas, salads, etc.
But I was there mostly for the cheese, all of which they import from Italy.
They had two types of burrata. Maldera was being sold in a 250g portion (HK$310), so I ordered the Andria, which came in a more manageable portion weighing 120g (HK$120). They also had three types of mozzarella: Madara Bufala Campagna DOP (HK$110); Federe Bufala Campagna DOP (HK$100), and Boconccini (HK$65). I wish they offered a round-robin tasting plate so I could try more than one cheese.
They serve all of these cheeses on a generous bed of ripe cherry tomatoes, a carpet of arugula, a sprinkle of salt, and a slick of extra virgin olive oil. They leave a bottle of extra virgin olive oil and reduced balsamic vinegar at your table. CLICK HERE to see all of the photos from my visit.
The burrata was fantastic. It secreted a creamy, milky core (which, mixed with the salad, was wonderful). The mozzarella casing was also very good – supple, soft, and it had a nice bounce.
I had paid my bill and was about to walk out of the restaurant when I caught their side board of desserts.
Tomato ice cream caught my attention first. Then basil, and mozzarella. I ignored the rest and assembled my own “Caprese coupe.” (HK$30 per scoop, so my coupe ended up costing HK$90 – a fairly expensive proposition.).
The tomato ice cream was the best – it actually tasted like tomato. The basil wasn’t bad, but I’ve made better basil ice cream at home. The mozzarella ice cream was dreadful. In fact, it was so dreadful that I was almost sure it was white chocolate ice cream; it was gritty and over-sweet. Together, it tasted nothing like I had hoped (Caprese in ice cream form) or imagined.
The texture of all three ice creams was pretty disappointing. Apparently, they had been shipped from Italy. They were all over-crystallized. The tomato ice cream could almost have been a tomato sherbet.
The prices here were a touch high, perhaps only justified by all the importing they have to do in order to secure the products.
Still, I was quite pleased to find this little patch of Italy in the middle of Wanchai. I’m fairly certain that they offer (and perhaps, rely heavily upon) a full catering fare, as they have a pretty large private menu.
I’ll hedge that most of their business comes from expats. One walked in during my snack (the place was empty for the length of my stay otherwise) to check up on his dinner party that night.
Service could be much better here. Or, at least, it could be much more pleasant. I really didn’t expect much. But none of the three people on duty seemed like they could have cared if the place caught fire. They certainly weren’t interested in giving you any more information than you possibly needed to pay the bill.
Classified (A Mozzarella Bar)
31 Wing Fung Street
Wanchai, Hong Kong