Hong Kong- 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo- ✪✪✪

A confused meal with absentee service with a suburban-mall feel to it, I am utterly confounded about how this place earned or keeps its 3-star status. Avoid.

 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Main Entrance

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Main Entrance

HONG KONG, CHINA

SERVICE: 4.0/10

FOOD: 7.0/10

PRICE PAID: $140 PP (LIST PRICE- PRE-CHALLENGE)

VALUE/MONEY: 3.0/10

FINAL SCORE: 5.5/10

A few quick words on service- both the runners and the wait staff were silent to the point of coldness; few explanations were offered for any of the dishes even when prompted, and the vibe was, "we're really fucking busy, man." During a business lunch time I can recognize that this is true, but I've never felt so roundly ignored as I did at Otto e Mezzo. 

  8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Interior

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Interior

Packed-crowded on a weekday with business-lunchers of all stripes, the space felt dense and overcrowded. The atmosphere was loud but not jovial, and the restaurant felt like it was emphasizing how popular it was- the mirrored ceilings, big open windows, etc, all contributed to both the visual and audio noise that permeated every inch of the restaurant.

 First bites: Bread, 4/10

First bites: Bread, 4/10

I try hard not to judge restaurants too harshly on their bread, but this was an utterly uninteresting set of slices that could very easily have come from, say, a gas station. 4/10.

 Course 1: Abalone + Caviar, 5/10

Course 1: Abalone + Caviar, 5/10

A pretty impressively-laid-out dish of caviar and abalone. The colors are beautiful and the caviar (from the Lombardy region of Italy), is zesty but pairs poorly with the abalone, which is more rubber tire than seafood. 5/10.

 Course 2: Blue Lobster, 5/10

Course 2: Blue Lobster, 5/10

Blue lobster from Brittany, France. Vegetable chunks at the base add considerable depth. The colors are beautiful and the plating really holds together well, but the cooking falls short- lobster is rubbery and undercooked, so it's sad that it made its way across Eurasia for such poor treatment. 5/10.

 Course 3: Pasta + Sea Urchin, 6/10

Course 3: Pasta + Sea Urchin, 6/10

The textures for the pasta and the sea urchin- both extremely soft and creamy- pair up to create an excessively rich and decadent dish. It's difficult to taste the Uni as separate from the pasta's sauce, so a lot of those delicate flavors are lost. 6/10. 

 Course 4: Pork, 8/10

Course 4: Pork, 8/10

I'll admit that the main dish- pork- is close to outstanding. The chef somehow creates an extremely tender, lamb-like texture, and the vegetables go along with the main perfectly- well cooked, balanced, pretty. 8/10.

 Course 5: Strawberry, 10/10

Course 5: Strawberry, 10/10

This is the true high point of the meal- strawberry, cracker, and cream desert is world class. 10/10

 Last Bites: Pancetta, 6/10

Last Bites: Pancetta, 6/10

  Last Bites: Milk Chocolate, 6/10

Last Bites: Milk Chocolate, 6/10

  Last Bites: Butter-Bread, 6/10

Last Bites: Butter-Bread, 6/10

 Final Word: Espresso, 8/10

Final Word: Espresso, 8/10

Last, a not-too-subtly branded cup of espresso. It's pretty tasty, but its a half-hour between emptying this cup and finally getting someone's attention to give me the check. Sigh.