White truffle season is upon us, and the city’s high court of gastronomy from French temples of haute cuisine to elegant Italian fine diners and even a handful of Japanese restaurants are embracing the prized ingredient in exclusive dishes showcasing the rare, seasonal item. Harvested from the rolling hills of Piedmont, Italy, the esteemed Alba winter white variety is considered to be the holy grail of truffles; one of the rarest and most exclusive ingredients in the world, it’s available for a limited time only starting from October through December each year.
With its heady, subtly pungent and aromatic fragrance, the earthy tuber can perfume everything from fresh homemade pastas to seafood and meats, and even the occasional dessert. While the ingredient perhaps marries best with French and Italian cuisines, Hong Kong’s chefs are bringing us a whole variety of border-defying truffle dishes this season.
Added as a supplement or shaved by the gram, a taste of this premium ingredient doesn’t come cheap — which is why it’s best to be discerning when it comes to choosing where to rack up a truffle tab. With that said, we’ve narrowed down eight truffle menus around town that are sure to be worth your dining dollar.
Nicholini’s is presenting a wide-ranging truffle menu starting this month, with a full 6-course tasting menu dedicated to the aromatic tuber. Dishes include lobster with Mediterranean radish, celery root and white truffle; vitello with Brussel sprouts, mixed wild mushrooms, Tuscan pork cheek and white truffle (pictured dish); and thinly sliced Wagyu carpaccio, pan-seared foie gras with chanterelle mushroom and white truffle (main image above). Tortelli with ox tail and monkfish with Parma ham, chard and pumpkin also enjoy the white truffle treatment, while dessert culminates in a sensational white chocolate, hazelnut and white truffle parfait with cherries showcasing the versatility of the ingredient.
Dishes available a la carte or as part of a 4, 5, or 6-course tasting menu priced from HK$1,788 plus 10% surcharge per person.
Nicholini’s, 8/F, Conrad Hong Kong, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong, +852 2521 3838
Hailed as the “King of White Truffles”, chef Umberto Bombana is renowned for working magic with the aromatic funghi, showering them lavishly on everything from pastas to risottos, meat to seafood dishes. At his newest restaurant, Octavium, Bombana is welcoming the start of the truffle season with a menu featuring that most ubiquitous of proteins: a 63-degree poached organic egg blanketed in thin shavings of premium Alba truffles (HK$880), with a luscious mushroom stock to reinforce the rich and earthy notes of the ingredient.
Octavium Italian Restaurant, 8/F, One Chinachem Central, Central, 22 Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong, +852 2111 9395
Whether dotted with crisp veggies or doused in crustacean broth, chef Agustin Balbi’s signature Koshihikari rice dish at Harbour City restaurant, Haku, is a clear fan favourite. This season, he’s taking the toothsome Japanese grains and presenting them in a warming claypot dish with a brilliantly runny egg yolk surrounded by a spray of meaty mixed mushrooms. For HK$250 extra, you can choose to top off the arrangement with generous shavings of premium white truffle, elevating the flavours and complexity of the dish. For dessert, don’t miss out on the milk ice cream and Japanese whiskey caramel dessert, which also has an optional white truffle add-on (HK$250).
Haku, Shop OT G04B, G/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, 3-27 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2115 9665
Chock full of fresh ingredients and steeped in the terroir of the produce-rich regions of Italy — Wan Chai kitchen Giando’s dishes make for a perfect blank canvas for soaking up the luxurious aromas of freshly shaved Alba truffles. A decadent winter truffle menu includes tantalising creations such as organic scrambled eggs with Parmigiano fondue and white truffles (HK$458); homemade egg tagliolini pasta in chicken broth with white truffles (HK$598); and the crowd-pleasing risotto (HK$458, pictured dish), with the rich and creamy grains primed for soaking up the fragrance of white truffle shavings, enriched with a sumptuous veal jus.
Giando, 9 Star Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2511 8912
New York-Italian restaurant Carbone presents a seasonal white truffle menu every year, and this year is no different as they bring back fan favourites from truffle fettuccine showered with truffle shavings, to the truffle-topped Japanese eggs on fluffy brioche, and plump truffle tortellini tossed in white truffle butter with sheep’s milk ricotta and parmesan — all served with Carbone’s signature tableside service. The premium truffle service includes tuxedo-clad captains presenting individual boxes of the oddly shaped tubers for your choosing (available whole or by the gram), to be shaved on everything from carpaccio Piemontese to the selection of premium steaks. Enjoy the dishes alongside Piemonte varietals from the same soil, such as the Cordero Di Montezemolo ‘Elioro’ Chardonnay 1999 (HK$1,388 by the bottle).
Carbone, 9/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2593 2593
Truffles are a highlight of the kitchen agenda every year at DiVino, which celebrates the ingredient with wild abandon in perhaps one of the most accessible truffle menus in town. In their signature “No Rules, No Limitations” truffle menu, diners are encouraged to enjoy the white diamonds of the culinary world as they wish, shaved on any dish and at any amount. Don’t know where to start? The kitchen recommends three dishes to best draw out the pungent aroma of the truffle: Buffalo ricotta dumpling with Grana Padano cream; “Ferron” Carnaroli risotto with “stracchino” cheese, Berlucchi brut and white truffle; and the 36-degree onsen egg nestled in a bed of Castlelmagno cheese fondue, with crushed Piedmont hazelnuts and petals of Alba truffles (pictured dish).
DiVino, 73 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2167 8883
When it comes to food, simple is oftentimes best — a mantra that’s the bread and butter of chef Gianni Caprioli’s cooking at his trio of Hong Kong restaurants. At waterfront eatery Gia, the seasonal white truffle menu relies on the core ingredients of eggs, cheese and butter — each dish a reliable crowd-pleaser from tagliolini pasta with butter and white truffle to the risotto infused with sharp Parmesan and truffle. For a pure, unadulterated taste of the truffle, however, you can’t beat the scrambled or pan-fried eggs topped with a generous 5-gram shaving: a tried-and-true pairing of eggs and truffle executed with finesse.
Gia Trattoria Italiana, 1/F Fleet Arcade, 1 Lung King Street, Fenwick Pier, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2511 8081
Porterhouse may be known for hearty, succulent steaks, but the kitchen is showing off a more delicate touch in a decadent truffle menu this season highlighting the subtle fragrances of the tuber. Appetisers include poached duck egg with Parmesan foam and 24-month cured Iberico dry-aged ribeye; while mains feature white truffle tagliatelle drenched in a butter-truffle sauce and a surf ‘n’ turf selection of prawn and beef tenderloin with truffles. For dessert, truffles are used intriguingly in a sweet application topping off the chocolate pavlova (pictured dish), with vanilla cream, fresh strawberries and a light-as-air chocolate meringue.
Porterhouse, 7/F, California Tower, 30-36 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2522 6366