Trattoria Queen Hollywood
Date of review: August 22, 2013 | Reviewed by: Charmaine Mok
Set on the cusp of Queen’s Road West and Hollywood Road (thus the name), Trattoria Queen Hollywood is a sliver of a restaurant that seats just over a dozen diners in its narrow ground floor space. A bar and kitchen flanks one side, the chefs visible through a lengthy glass window, and the cosy fit manages to avoid becoming claustrophobic thanks to high ceilings. With its cute blackboards chalked up with neat hiragana and katakana characters explaining the provenance of the ingredients used (mostly Japanese and Italian, with some French meats and cheeses thrown in), and a hand-drawn map of Italy and Japan hanging high above our heads, this trattoria feels like it came straight from Tokyo’s Nishi-Azabu district.
As suggested by the menu and map splashed across the walls, you’ll find an intriguing menu of Italian classics given a distinctly Japanese twist – a common hybrid depicted by the ubiquitous category known as wafuu pasta. Here, there’s gloriously al dente taglioni tossed with taraba crabmeat, scallops and sweetcorn (freshly carved off the cob, not tinned), or tomato sauce spaghetti with Japanese mushrooms. Much of the fresh produce are sourced from Japan, so you’ll find perfect, verdant vegetables (pert broccoli, bright carrots, smooth okra) in a dish of bagna cauda. We particularly adored our starter of Japanese Okayama white peaches (skinned and cut into juicy segments) wrapped with umami-packed prosciutto, served with pungent shavings of parmesan and fresh salad leaves – we’ll probably never go back to the ham and melon combination ever again. A second starter of grilled Japanese octopus with homemade garlic mayonnaise was more complex than it seemed from the menu. The dish was finished off under the grill so that the dabs of aioli-like sauce were caramelised on top, and scattered throughout were chopped parsley and cubes of sweet ripe tomatoes – the combination being delightfully fresh and savoury. Be aware that while the menu is split Italian style, into antipasti, primi piatti and secondi piatti, the first-course pastas are actually main course in size. We therefore appreciated how our waiter kindly suggested we share one pasta and one main rather than order two primi and one secondi to share. The aforementioned crab pasta was accomplished, and we also enjoyed our main of French duck breast (cooked pink) with truffle, burdock and discs of slippery mountain yam – the only failure being that the truffle had very little aroma and was rather thickly sliced. We fit in one dessert of homemade panna cotta flavoured with Okinawa black sugar which, when melded with the fresh cream, took on an almost smoky, caramelised flavour.
The wine list is primarily Italian, though there are sakes available for certain dish pairings – staff are able to confidently recommend wines to go with the fresh seasonal produce in the dishes and we enjoyed our Poggiobello Friulano 2011, full of apple and melon flavours. Wines by the glass are good value, with most around HK$80 and other bottles reasonably priced from around HK$300 and upwards.
Service is extremely polite and dedicated in the way that typifies the Japanese and, as we were sharing all dishes, we appreciated how our small plates were regularly changed between courses.
A meal for two with wine and service will cost between HK$600 and HK$800 a head, depending on the dishes ordered. While the setting is not quite luxurious enough to warrant the higher price tag, we think that the combination of the careful sourcing of ingredients and execution of dishes makes up for it.