ciao chow @ Chow Down When You Can

Since the opening of the rebuilt California Tower in Lan Kwai Fong precincts, the dining concepts have been reinvented to a more sophisticated dining experience for patrons who frequented in the past. ciao chow is among one of the many new comers that sits on the most prime locations of all in this latest entertainment complex in Hong Kong. By mylifestylenews.

ciao chow dining concept offers casual Italian fare, with the location that is an open ground floor space allows you and the passersby to see all is happening inside and outside in this iconic location of D’Aguilar street at Lang Kwai Fong. While the spacious fit out gives it a more elevated quality, the cuisine still seems to be finding its own voice. During our recent visit, we discovered there were some hits and misses.

The hip vibe is certainly here, with lounge music at some considerable volume, the atmosphere is busy and buzzing and quite easily drawing attention from passersby. We loved the idea of the polished concrete that references some raw industrial feel with a modern contemporary touch. The high exposed ceilings and a combination of table setting configurations and marble-topped communal tables create a more cozy and family oriented mood that caters for all needs.

Arriving just in time as booked, we were somewhat disconcerted by the hostess asking us which third party had made the booking for us, as surely that is of no importance to them since we were already there. This gave us pause for concern with the expected service level and true to form, there wasn’t any pre-assigned table for us for an obvious reason that we were told to pick either table at the back end corner as we wish. Hmm……Charming!

The service was less engaging and kink and went even sloppier as the night progressed.  After we sorted ourselves out and minutes later still there is no drinks offers without anyone approached us until we began to wave at the wait staff. The manager came along to offer the daily special of the night with limited serve each night that truly interested us before we placed the order of his highlighted dishes. Hence, we started with a Butcher Pizza and a platter of Piatto di Salami. Yet, still no drinks offered and he walked away.

So we had to request for our drinks and subsequently the food arrived quite rapidly before our drinks, while we were still browsing through what is on offer. The menu is extensive with all the usual Italian favourites, ranging from superior cold cuts, to pizzas and pasta but without any meat dishes which turns out to be the daily special upon request.They are proud of their pizzas and after our first taste we could see why. Our thick crust Italian Butcher Piazza with San Mazzano tomato, Mozzarella, Prosciutto di Parma, Calabrese salami and ‘Nduja Calabrese chili oil was a good start. The Piatto di Salami - a platter of goose, pork and wild boar salamis with some crisp pizza bread was quite a stand out from their extensive selection of cold cuts.

We had a Ganberi to follow – a salad of shrimp, radicchio, avocado, cucumber, crispy Pancetta and bisque dressing.  The shrimps were char grilled to the right perfection and fresh, but the salad was rather uninteresting, the bisque dressing was quite mild and almost had nothing in relation to a bisque in flavor.

For mains, we took the manager’s offer from one of the today’s specials - the 1kg rib-eye to share, but we were informed all portions had been sold at lunchtime after we placed the order. Indeed, we couldn’t help but wonder why bother offering for dinner serving when it was sold out?

Subsequently, we settled on the Grilled Spring Chicken Special with anticipation since it was also highly recommended by the manager. On arrival, we were somewhat disappointed about the presentation. A mound of room temperature and bland fried potato chunks, a small spring chicken and a heap of cut Romain salad leaves instead of rocket salad as told. We couldn’t feel the presentation showed any love from the kitchen and yet the chicken was rather lacking in flavor. Had it been more seasoned, that might put into consideration to liven up the situation? This special was certainly not what one would expect from a good Italian restaurant nor the called it Italian Cafeteria. Besides, one of the wait staffs carrying his ipad requested to take a close up pictures of the dish while we were about to dig in. To no offence, we let him do it but this can also be avoided and done from the kitchen before delivering it to the table. We were quite puzzled.

We didn’t even finish everything and moved on to the Linguine alle Vongole with Manila clams and garlic in white wine and a Fettucine alla Bolognese in a slow cooked pork and beef ragu. Both pasta portions were small and almost for just two mouthfuls while the pricing is not in the stratosphere. We did request for extra garlic and seems the message was undelivered, the Linguine was flat in taste and lacking of the excitement with the palate anticipated. The overcooked fettucine was another disaster, with very uninteresting and monotone flavor of the Bolognese sauce which tasted not any better or worse than any Italian fast food joints take out. Serving such quality Italian flavor puts the kitchen team to a shame as both classic pasta dishes were uninspiring and truly not authentic. That really put us off by losing the Italian sensation while dining out in an Italian restaurant/Cafeteria.

We had some expectations about ciao chow with a recommendation before we dined in, but from the moment we arrived there seemed to be a lack of direction and this flowed from the service floor into the kitchen and back out again. There is certainly something missing in what could be a great restaurant and we are not convinced.

Tried & Tested:
Location: 4.5/5
Design & Decor: 4/5
Food & Beverage: 2.5/5
Service: 2/5
Value For Money: 2.5/5
Experience: 2.5/5

Cold Cuts selection

G/F, California Tower,
30-32 D'Aguilar Street
Lan Kwai Fong, Central
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2344 0005

Reviews are based on actual day of visit and experience. mylifestylenews reserves the right of final decision in case of any disputes. All images are photographed by mylifestylenews team without any photoshop enhancement and are the property owned by mylifestylenews unless otherwise stated. 

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