The closure of restaurants happens all too often in Hong Kong, but it’s still never nice to hear that a good restaurant such as Casa Lisboa has closed its doors. In this case though, thankfully it was only a temporary closure whilst the restaurant found a new home on Wyndham Street. Much like its sister restaurant, Olé, Casa Lisboa had been making hungry diners happy for quite some time, so it wasn’t about to just disappear.
The new space is quite a lot smaller than the old, but much brighter and more modern. Whereas the old space was more like a cavernous Portuguese wine cellar, the new space, with its bright blue tiles and chairs, floor-to-ceiling windows and marine-inspired murals, is more like a Portuguese seaside restaurant.
As well as its new home, Casa Lisboa is also proud to showcase a brand-new, much more concise menu, featuring contemporary Portuguese cuisine, i.e. reinvented traditional Portuguese dishes prepared with new cooking techniques and modern presentation, put together by new Executive Chef Fábio Pombo.
We began our feast with the Portuguese brown crab Sapateira, a very traditional Portuguese summer dish that consists of poached crabmeat, mixed with mayonnaise, onion and celery. The crabmeat was beautifully presented back in its shell and served with crispy thinly-sliced bread for dipping – delicious!
The Algarve red prawns dish that followed is inspired by a traditional fisherman’s dish that is usually prepared with ordinary, much smaller prawns, simmered in a rich tomato sauce. This upgraded version featured huge, juicy red prawns and the tomato sauce, made with an assortment of tomatoes from different origins, was fantastic.
We were very impressed by the piri-piri quail, obviously a reinvention of a dish usually made with chicken. The bird was served on a mini grill over a bed of smoking rosemary, giving it a wonderful aroma and a lovely flavour. The accompanying piri-piri sauce packed a serious punch too, just the way it should.
One of my favourite dishes was the Portuguese octopus confit. I could tell that it was tender as I was dividing up the chunks of mollusc, but we were taken aback by just how tender it was. Having been first steamed in Moscatel wine and then grilled, it had a beautifully sweet flavour and an incredible texture that was crispy on the outside and amazingly tender beneath.
The stuffed baby squid was also lovely, although not as tender as the octopus and rather heavy. Here, the squid is stuffed with a blend of chorizo and rice, before being cooked in a sweet and rich beer and tomato sauce.
Suckling pig is a very popular dish in Spanish and Portuguese restaurants in Hong Kong, but many places seem to get it so wrong and serve greasy chunks that contain more bone and fat than meat. Casa Lisboa’s, however, was excellent. The chef selects only two-month old piglets, marinates them in traditional Bairrada style and grills them for three hours, resulting in succulent, delicious pork with perfect crackling skin.
Although it looked rather dry, the Lisboa-style duck rice was excellent, packed full of flavoursome hand-shredded duck meat, roasted pork belly and chorizo, and was far from dry in the slightest!
Last of the savoury dishes was the A5 Grade flame-grilled chuck rib “Preguinho”, basically a DIY beef sandwich, made here with A5 Wagyu beef that is cooked sous-vide, served alongside mustard and cheese sauces and fluffy flatbread. This was a universal favourite around the table.
We had all been very excited about the sound of the “chocolates with bread” dessert, but I must say it wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped. I did appreciate the bursting bubbles of olive oil “caviar”, but the chocolate mousse and thin crispbread just didn’t quite hit that sweet spot.
I did, however, adore the pineapple, vanilla ice cream and pistachio sponge ravioli – an explosion of refreshing flavours and textures that cleansed the palate and left everyone in awe.
I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the old Casa Lisboa, but now that I have seen and tasted the new one, I realise it is a welcome refreshment and I am an even bigger fan now than I was before. Small dishes are priced between $80 and $280, whilst generously portioned main dishes are between $130 and $380. Sometimes change is good, and in this case, it is very, very good.
2/F, Parekh House
63 Wyndham Street
Tel: +852 2905 1168