The latest culinary trend of “small-plate” dining is taking over the tables of Hong Kong, and Papi is a great option in the mix! The concept of Papi’s bite-sized items stems from the traditional way of eating across Italy – families taking time to share big meals of home-cooked delicious food together. So it was on a Saturday lunch that I took my son and my mother to try their small plates and fork food (bigger dishes) on offer.
The venue is smack bang in the heart of Wanchai, in QRE plaza, which makes it very accessible for the Saturday shopping crowd and mid-week lunches. The restaurant opens up into a beautiful, bright space with an open kitchen, wood floors and chairs, and clean white marble tiling. The tables are well-spaced apart, perfect for those with strollers or lots of shopping. Windows look out on the back of Wanchai and towards the Peak, with a great view of the greenery on Bowen Road.
The menu is large and extensive, with plenty on offer for everyone. We ordered five small plates, one pasta main, two desserts and two mocktails. Dishes included pan fried crab cakes, rocket and burrata salad, sauteed green beans and Parma ham, pork meatballs with fennel seeds and fresh tomato sauce, deep fried white bait with paprika, the sea urchin linguine, tiramisu and panna cotta with espresso ice.
The small plates were, well, small, with only 2-3 pieces of each item per portion, save the white bait which came as a big handful, so order a few small plates and fork food (sides) and try a main to share.
Thumbs up: The sea urchin linguine was delicious, perfectly al dente but with a phenomenal fresh sea urchin sauce. We all enjoyed this. Pasta portions are a good size and one pasta was enough for my mother and I to share, on top of the small plates. The crab cakes were also great, very moist with lots of flavour. My kid’s favourites were the meatballs, crab cakes and whitebait. We all loved the tiramisu.
Thumbs down: The burrata and rocket salad was a disappointment. The burrata was not very fresh, the taste a little sour and the texture was more like chewy mozarella than milky soft, oozy burrata. The panna cotta with espresso ice had an interesting flavour, but the texture again was a little too firm and rubbery to be panna cotta – it was more like a solid jelly.
Stroller access: Yes
Kids menu: No, but not necessary as there are lots of child-friendly and familiar dishes like pizzas and pastas. In fact, it was actually really nice to watch my kid pick things out of a proper menu and to encourage him to be a little more adventurous in his eating – especially since everyone else around him was eating from the same menu.
Price range: Reasonable to expensive, with starters from $38, and most other small plate items priced at around $80. There is also a set lunch which came well under $200 with the option of adding extra courses on. The most expensive dishes were the pasta, meat and seafood ones, most coming in at around $200+, with $838 for the 400gm grilled Italian Fassone steak for two.
Fri-Sat: 11:30 until late
For reservations, call 2151 2868 or email [email protected].
Papi, 26/F, QRE Plaza, 202 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong