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Da Domenica - Way, Way Overated!!

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A few days back, I had a chance to savour a plate of ' Spaghetti a la Vongole' at Da Domenica, HK ( supposedly one of HK's best Italian eatery ) and La Boheme, Tokyo ( a busy family Italian Trattoria ) in two consecutive days. The Da Domenica's version, at a whopping HK$480 ( US$60+ ) tasted fairly good with the clams fresh and plump and the pasta cooked al dente, Was it worth the mega-bucks? A definite no!! The Tokyo's La Boheme version was a huge surprise!! Coming from the kitchen of a 'chained restaurant', the pasta was one of the best tasting 'Vongole' outside of Italy! Not only was the taste flavourful, with the right amount of garlic and fresh black pepper, the amount of shelled pasta clams piled into the plate was unreal! The quality, ultra plump and breaming with freshness. At a cost of JPY1200 ( US$12 )!! Its a steal!!
If this sort of quality and value is a reflection of your typical Tokyo eatery, I cannot wait for the Michelin Star restaurants!!!
As for Da Domenica, unless one is a contrarian and is fortunate enough to make lots of money in the 'sub-prime' environment, I would use one's capital and eat else where!! There are tons of fine Chinese restaurants nearby in Causeway Bay!!

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  1. I am sorry you are disappointed with the meal at Da Domenica, but I think you should have titled the topic as "Way, Way Overpriced!!!" because you did enjoy the meal but thought the price was outrageous. I won't argue on the price tag as I find it expensive too and have warned this issue in the past thread.

    I did not try the Sphaghetti Vongole, but did order the Sauteed Vongole and Linguini Scampi, both of which I rate very highly. The clams were very fresh and juicy, and I will argue that you are not going to find the same quality else where in Hong Kong. The Scampi is the same that you find in Italian coast cities. The waitor explained to me that the seafood was air flown from Sicily, which explained the high price tag. Nevertheless, I also agree it is not a place that I would go in near term unless the good days in equity is back again.

    I think it is also unfair to compare to Tokyo eatery and price. There is no doubt the clams in Tokyo is awesome, and being natively available, the price is much cheaper than the case in Hong Kong where it needs to be imported. But more importantly, in my opinion, Japan has the best seafood in freshness and varieties that even surpass Hong Kong. But to have the best seafood, I would recommend not to even bother to go to western Michelin stars, which I find the handling of seafood is way behind those seafood specialties that are available in Japan.

    Completely agree that one should focus on Cantonese food in Hong Kong. Just had a fabulous dinner 2 nights ago at Lei Garden at IFC, which I think is probably the best Cantonese restaurants, especially if you are willing to splurge by asking the captain what their specialties are on that day.

    8 Replies
    1. re: FourSeasons

      You are right! Should have titled it `` Way, way, Overpriced ``

      1. re: Charles Yu

        On second thought, while I personally find it expensive, I recall that the lunch visit on Oct and dinner visit on Dec were full house. Was the place full on your visit? Just wonder if the recent "sub prime" crisis has any effect on its business?

        Also what did you order for appetizer or main dish? Did you find it way way overpriced too?

        1. re: FourSeasons

          Just to throw my 2 cents in here... I tend to agree with Four Seasons. Is it overpriced? Absolutely. But now that Toscana has shuttered its doors, there are few better options for knock your socks off Italian in Hong Kong (Grissini and an occasional pasta special at Isola could be contenders). I'm just happy to have the opportunity to eat this kind of food all the way over in Hong Kong, even if I have to mortgage my house to do so. The ingredients are fresh and of the highest quality and, having shopped the wet markets and high-end grocers, I believe that they're actually Italian. The homesick expats like myself will probably keep this place in business.

          1. re: FourSeasons

            CharlesYu wrote on Japan thread: "Finally, an aside for fellow chowhounder 'FourSeason'. My 3 course meal of seafood soup ( HK$190 ), Spaghetti a la Vongole ( HK$480 ) and Ox tongue with cabbage ( 6 tiny pan fried morsels atop of some aged balsamic and EVOO @ HK$420 ) in HK's Da Domenica ended up costing me over US$150 !! ( before wine and coffee and no dessert ). BTW, the ox tongue was tough and ordinary tasting."

            Hi Charles: I have moved your writing back here since I thought this is more appropriate thread to continue this topic.
            I would not have ordered ox tongue in Da Domenico. I have never been a big fan of how Italian chefs deal with ox tongue, and not having tried it at Da, I would not make any comment too. But I thought the specialties in Da is their seafood, not meat items. Just wonder how you like the seafood soup, which I did not order as well?
            If you go back there again, try their signature dishes, Grilled Calamari, Linguini Scampi, Seabass. You can argue that it is not "value for money" (I personally find it outrageous expensive), but I will affirm the quality is really good. Hong Kong is such a competitive place for dining, Da would not be full most of the time for such outrgeous price if the quality is compromised.

            1. re: FourSeasons

              It sure ain't a cheap place.

              I popped into Da Domenico (after dinner at nearby Pak Loh Chiu Chow) last night to have a look at the menu & to confirm what many folks were saying. HKD690 for a piece of veal chop!! That costed more than what I paid for Alice Waters' 4-course menu degustation at Chez Panisse!

              1. re: klyeoh

                I've been to Chez Panisse , one of my favourite. Service sucks at DD , owner instructed the staff that you need to pour your own distill water . They have enough regular rich clients they can afford to be " very rude " to the rest . Umberto and Roland are both at Aspasia . Their pizza and pasta can be just as good.

                1. re: shrimpwonton

                  Well, looks like DD got ignored by the Michelin folks in their latest Michelin HK Macau Guide. Maybe they were rude to the inspectors as well.

                  But I was at DD for dinner in June this year. Despite their less-than-stellar service, and I'm loath to admit this: their food was absolutely gorgeous!! In fact, if I live in HK, I don't mind becoming a regular there.

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    Completely agree. Well given that DD has zero points for decor and minus points for service... I never expected Michelin to give a hoot.

      2. Absolutely agree. Nothing to write home about. any trattoria in italy beats this crap.