The beauty of living in Hong Kong is that although it is a big, concrete jungle, we are able to escape, jump on a short ferry ride to one of the other islands and experience a different way of life, with a much slower pace and what feels like cleaner air (even if only marginally). After hearing a lot of good things about it, I finally made the journey over to Park Island last weekend to put celebrity chef Jaakko Sorsa’s Café Roma to the test; as Jaakko is the chef behind the ever-popular FINDS in TST (reviewed here and here), I believed every word that it was worth the treacherous 25 minute ferry journey into the unknown.
Café Roma is exactly that: a casual all-day café. The décor is very simple, not too dissimilar from the row of other restaurants that line the promenade just up from Man Wan Tung Wan beach; it’s obviously the food that sets it apart. As we took our seats on the patio overlooking the beach (which overlooks HK’s giant bridges – showing the extremes that our lovely city has to offer), we saw glimpses of the delights we were about to experience.
The first of the appetisers was a Greek salad with lovely refreshing, summery flavours that perfectly suited the incredible weather.
Alongside this, a gorgeous tomato and mozzarella di buffala salad was served. Both the tomatoes and the mozzarella were incredibly fresh and full of flavour, drizzled with pesto and sprinkled with pine nuts.
The seared beef and grilled vegetable salad that followed was also delicious, the beef wonderfully tender to complement the crunchy grilled veggies…I only wished there had been more beef in the salad to avoid the four of us fighting over the last piece like vultures!
A plate of prawn fritters came next. Under a rather thick and disappointingly rather soggy batter were gorgeously succulent prawns that paired wonderfully with the spicy mayonnaise.
Onto main courses, the roasted rack of lamb was beautifully cooked to tenderness perfection, served alongside a delicious stack of melanzane alla parmigiana and crisp rocket leaves.
I’m not normally a fan of creamy pastas, yet the seafood linguini, with only a light lick of cream sauce, was lovely, made with flakes of salmon and wonderfully succulent prawns. My only complaint is that Italians don’t put cheese on their seafood dishes, yet this was laden with Parmesan before we were even asked if we cared for some.
Although it wasn’t quite set, the passion fruit panna cotta had delightful summery flavours, again reminding us how lucky we are to be able to sit outdoors in 30 degrees in September.
The mango toffee pie was my favourite of the two desserts. Though not quite as good as the original banana version, I loved the refreshing flavour of the mango, which really worked with the thick crumbly base and decadent toffee sauce. An added bonus was that the cream was served on the side; usually I scrape it off!
Service at Café Roma is efficient, although I unfortunately can’t say it’s service with a smile. Prices are definitely reasonable and food, thanks to Chef Jaakko’s magic touch, is delicious. If I lived on Park Island, I would most certainly make it a regular hangout for casual, comforting fare…. but living on Hong Kong Island, realistically it may be some time before I return; there’s just too much exploring to do and I’m only just getting started!
Shop 7 and 8, Beach Commercial Complex
Tel: +852 3446 1226