What makes a good restaurant? Delicious food for sure, but the vibe also plays a key role. In newly opened Ee Da Le’s case, it’s a great spot for both – rustic Italian fare and beautiful décor.
The dining scene in Hong Kong has been buzzing about Harlan Goldstein’s comeback for months. In case you haven’t heard of the NYC-raised chef, he’s long held court as one of the biggest personalities in the Hong Kong food world. From curating the fine dining menu at Aberdeen Marina Club to obtaining his first Michelin stars at GOLD by Harlan Goldstein (now closed), his food is known to be bold and inventive, much like the man himself. After taking some time off, he’s back with a bang and will be opening four new restaurants in the same building this fall in partnership with ZS Hospitality Group. In a nice touch, he’s also working with a number of chefs that have been with him for years. Ee Da Le (helmed by Executive Chef Fung Wong) is the first of the four spots, to be followed by My Tai Tai, Mamasita’s Cantina, and Eat Me + Drink Me, in that order.
Walking into Ee Da Le feels special. You come up three floors from the streets of Soho and into an Italian dream world – the décor is that bright and fun. Shout out to AB Concept (also behind CÉ LA VI and W Beijing) for putting together such a textured space. From the opera skirt-inspired lampshades on the ceiling to the detailed serving plates, the restaurant is designed to be a space to kickback and enjoy a fun night – whether it’s a girls night, a date, or a dinner with colleagues. The soundtrack seemed primed for this too, with T-Pain, Tiesto and Leona Lewis playing on a Monday night.
But of course, all this is no guarantee people will go (or go back) unless the food is good.
We started off the evening with the beetroot salad ($138). The stracchino was some of the creamiest I’ve ever had, and complemented the other ingredients – tart beets, light beet creme fraiche, tangy pistachio lemon yoghurt – perfectly.
The chargrilled octopus ($178) was also a standout dish and cooked to perfection before being served with soppressata atop a bed of potato crema (aka mashed potatoes). The addition of lettuce seemed unnecessary though, or at least I personally don’t enjoy my lettuce warm.
Mama’s meatballs ($108) is hearty comfort food at its best. This veal and beef version was fat and juicy, with a strong, flavourful sauce.
There are a number of well-executed starches. The signature red prawn linguine ($488) was beautifully presented and the prawn sauce was soaked through the noodles – fantastic flavour in every bite. While tasty enough, we thought the price tag was a bit high for the dish.
I’d say the king crab spaghetti ($288) was worth every penny though. It was cooked perfectly al dente, was creamy without being overwhelming, and came with a generous helping of crab. The lobster risotto ($338) was also a winner – absolutely moreish and the rice had just the right bite.
For meats, we tried the bistecca steak (12oz, $380) and the free range chicken (for 2, $368). Both are classics and cooked well. The rib-eye was served tagliata style (grilled, then carved), and accompanied by a delicious, buttery bearnaise sauce. And that was one juicy bird! The chicken was seasoned with rosemary and lemon, and served with crispy, tender cotechino sausage and roasted garlic on the side.
No Italian meal is complete without dessert, and the meal ends well at Ee Da Le. The tiramisu ($75) was a stand out. This version had fresh banana marscapone, salted caramel sauce, cookie bits, and some very Snapchat-able amaretto nitrogen. Banana desserts can be hit or miss, sometimes the bananas are overly ripe or lack flavour, but the ones here had the perfect texture and sweetness. The Italian cream puff ($68) is simple but classic, filled with nutella vanilla custard and warm chocolate sauce.
Lastly, the deconstructed cannelloni ($68) was a beautiful treat for the eyes, with layers of ricotta, chocolate cream, and candied fruit, accompanied by pistachio ice cream. This one is definitely for sharing and for those that can handle a sinful, rich creamy treat after a decadent meal.
The prices aren’t cheap, but neither are they outrageous. You’ll get quality dishes with imported Italian ingredients, a chance to sample Harlan Goldstein’s cuisine, and likely have a lively fun night in a charmingly decorated restaurant. Note that most of the dishes are quite sizeable and rich in flavour – best for sharing. When you’re in the mood for comfort food in a stylish setting, give Ee Da Le a try.
3/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central
This post first appeared on Foodie Hong Kong.