Despite being a melting pot of cultures where one can find any cuisine under the sun, one thing that Hong Kong fails to deliver is a good, high-quality sandwich shop. Besides the mass-produced grab-n-go coffee shops, you either get cheap sandwiches with days-old ingredients or overly priced sandwiches with bread so crusty it cuts the roof of your mouth.
The Italians, somehow, manage to take a simple piece of bread, fill it with fresh ingredients and make sandwiches magical. Panino Giusto, born in Milan over 30 years ago, has just arrived in Hong Kong, bringing its magical Italian panini to those who have been long-deprived of an exceptional sandwich.
With its location on the third floor of IFC, the harbour-view from Panino Giusto also sets it apart from other sandwich shops. The shop itself is decorated in the colours of the Italian flag – red, white and green – whilst an open kitchen features hanging legs of Parma ham and imported Berkel slicers, so diners can watch their panini being prepared before them.
Panino Giusto claims to serve the best panini in all of Italy (and now Hong Kong), based on its “rule of 7” – meaning they use 70 grams each of meat, cheese and bread, topped with vegetables, sauces and oils. Each ingredient is hand-selected from Italy so that nothing but the best quality ingredients are used.
If I were to go in order of preference, out of the five panini we tried, surprisingly, it was the Montagu (rosemary and sage roast beef, tomato, rocket, lemon and olive oil) that least impressed us. Whilst the beef was super tender, it was lacking in terms of flavour and sadly didn’t leave a lasting impression.
The Apollo, filled with roast turkey breast, tomato, mozzarella and mustard, was mild yet comforting, although not one I would normally order. Perhaps a stronger mustardy kick would have given it a little something more special.
A bite into the Garibaldino and we started to understand where Panino Giusto gets its reputation. Delicious bresaola, mozzarella, tomato, rocket, extra virgin olive oil and black pepper created a winning sandwich that encapsulated all the freshness and flavours that I love about Italian food.
Oozing with melted fontina cheese, ham, tuna, tomato and tartar sauce, the ‘Toast della casa’ was utterly delicious. The bread was simultaneously fluffy and crunchy, either side of a generous amount of filling. Although I’ve never been very interested in a classic tuna melt, this gourmet version definitely did it for me.
Last but far from least, the Tartufo was hands down our favourite panino of the lot. From the moment it was served, the rich aroma of the Alba truffle oil hit us and we instantly knew we must save this one for last. True to its reputation, the Parma ham was of the finest quality and paired well with the creamy Brie, fresh tomato and crunchy rocket, whilst the truffle oil took this panino from great to outstanding.
Aside from the namesake sandwiches, Panino Giusto also offers a wide range of starters and salads, as well as a few traditional Italian desserts, which unfortunately we didn’t manage to taste.
Prices at Panino Giusto range from $78 to $98 for a panino. Obviously these are rather absurd prices to pay for an average sandwich, particularly given the generally small size of these sandwiches. But then again, we are not talking about an average sandwich that we’d eat every day for convenience; we are talking about delicious Italian-style panini made with high-quality ingredients that we’d save for those moments in life when all we need is a little bit of simple luxury.
Shop 3077, Podium Level 3, IFC Mall
8 Finance Street
Tel: +852 2564 7000