I first tried Casa Lisboa for brunch almost three years ago to the day and, having never been to Portugal, after sampling Casa Lisboa’s tasty Portuguese specialities, I was even more eager to visit the country. Alas, three years later and I have still never been, so an invitation to try Casa Lisboa’s new seasonal tasting menu seemed like the next best thing!
As I mentioned after my first visit to the restaurant, as soon as you enter, you immediately feel as if you could indeed be somewhere in Europe, far removed from Hong Kong.
Casa Lisboa’s resident Portuguese chef Edgar Alves has recently introduced a seven-course seasonal tasting menu that highlights traditional northern Portuguese flavours. The menu, available only at dinner, is very reasonably priced, at $488 per person. If seven courses sounds like too much to swallow, Chef Edgar has also introduced four “fiery summer” dishes available on the a la carte menu.
Our seven-course tasting menu began with some homemade Portuguese fresh cheese with pumpkin compote. There are people who say they would always choose a starter over dessert, and others who would forego a starter in order to have dessert; this dish could please both kinds of people and pleased me very much. The cheese was similar to ricotta, beautifully light, fresh and very mild in flavour. Paired with the sweet pumpkin purée and mint leaf, it was a match made in heaven.
The stuffed shrimp cake “rissois” was also surprisingly tasty. This dish originates from Portuguese fishermen, who would batter and deep-fry their catch. Casa Lisboa’s version is much more refined and elegantly presented than I’d imagine the fishermen making, and it tasted divine, served with a fresh tomato and coriander tartar to balance the flavours.
One of my favourite dishes was the fava bean cream with chorizo and poached egg. Somehow this reminded me of a pea and ham soup, yet, again, a more refined version that seemed perfect for summertime. Whilst some found the chorizo a bit overpowering, I enjoyed the richness, contrasted against the sweet broad bean purée.
I wasn’t overjoyed by the bacalhau, tomato and coriander soup, finding the cod a little dry and the broth a little too salty.
The cod in the bacalhau gratin was similarly a little on the dry side and I couldn’t really detect the caramelised onion in the rich, creamy potato.
The tasting menu continues with a flame-grilled baby lamb rack, followed by a flaming fig tart. Given that this menu is designed for dinner, rather than lunch, naturally it ended up being quite a lengthy lunch, so I had to leave before I got the chance to try the last two dishes.
I did, however, get to try a few of the “fiery summer” dishes from the a la carte menu, each of which, true to their description, is served flaming. I had tried the Portuguese sausage flambée on my previous visit and loved it. The chorizo is first presented ablaze in a cute piggy grill, before being sliced up and served to share. This way, there is a perfect crispy layer that gives way to the rich, salty sausage.
Piri-piri chicken is the dish that comes to everyone’s mind when thinking about Portuguese cuisine. Casa Lisboa’s version is presented on an ‘espeto’, a traditional Portuguese barbecue skewer, above flames that lick the skin to make it nice and crispy. The chicken was juicy and delicious, although I expected it to be a little more spicy.
Salt-baked fish is always a spectacle, yet it is even more so here – the thick layer of rock salt in which the Atlantic seabream has been baked is first doused in alcohol, before being set on fire. Although I get that it’s in line with the concept of the new dishes, I found the fire a little unnecessary here and the smell of the alcohol quite overpowering. The fish itself, however, when carefully removed from the salt crust, was absolutely delicious and perfectly seasoned.
Service was a little haphazard, but inoffensive. I’m always impressed by the value for money at Casa Lisboa. As I mentioned, the tasting menu is $488 per person, which is astonishing value for the amount of food you get. The set lunch is also fantastic, as you can order any dish from the a la carte menu, rather than being limited to just a meagre selection. I can certainly see why this place has been consistently busy since it opened six years ago!
8/F, Lan Kwai Fong Tower
55 D’Aguilar Street
Tel: +852 2905 1168