Breathing Easy In TST
A breeze is flowing through Tsim Sha Tsui East. Once cut off from where the more traditional dining areas
position themselves in Kowloon, the MTR subway has injected new life into the neighbourhood. Freestanding restaurants and bars have popped up and even attract a crowd, while hotels – which for years had the place to themselves – have had to get their houses in order to compete. At the forefront of the revolution is The Mistral, a “modern” Italian restaurant appropriately named after a Mediterranean seasonal wind. At the base of the InterContinental Grand Stanford, on the surface not much as changed. Listen a bit closer and there is a new energy about the place.
Gone is the Puccini and Verdi, replaced by music more this century. Chef Claudio, a youthful and exuberant Italian, is another breath of fresh air. “Everything’s changed since I took over a year ago,” he confided, as he presented me with a plate of carpaccio intriguingly stuffed with lobster . Filled with the kind of confidence you might expect from a Sicilian to behave, Claudio patrols his open kitchen like a man who’s happy with these changes. The paste yellow-and-blue fabrics, combined with the
painted plates adorning the restaurant’s walls, do much to cheer up what is effectively a windowless basement cellar. A chef can do little to change that, however.
The kitchen is his terrain and the scampi with prawn- and langoustine moussestuffed tortellini, his wonderfully-colourful statement. When a restaurant attempts to reinvent itself, there’s always a risk that it loses some of the fundamentals. Far from blowing hot air, the menu still promises some old favourites. The rack of Sicilianstyle lamb with a powerful olive tapenade ($340) is deliciously tender and Claudio’s
take on a tried and tested Mediterranean creation.
If you don’t fancy the traditional formality of a five-star hotel Italian, Mistral offers the white-linen tablecloths without the fine-dining pomp. The immaculate service and food are as good as you’ll find for the price in Hong Kong. So you can breathe easy.
Review by James Moore
InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong, 70 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel 852 2721 5161