Sunday, 19 July 2015

Linguini Fini - biggest pizza ever!

Always on the lookout for a quick and cheap dining option on the way home from work, we've had our eye on Linguini Fini for the last few months.  Located on the corner of Elgin and Shelley Streets in Soho, Linguini Fini immediately met one of our two requirements for a regular dining haunt, we walked by it every day on our way home from work, so convenient: Check!  There was only one way for us to find out if it met our other criteria, great tasting food, and that was to finally check it out.

Ironically, we went to Linguini Fini on a Sunday evening for dinner, so even though it was conveniently located on our walk home, we ended up coming at it from the wrong direction. Being a Sunday, we didn't think it would have been necessary to make a booking, and while the restaurant was quite busy with Sunday afternoon/evening expat drinkers, there were still tables available for diners.

If you've walked up the escalators through Soho, then you'd have seen Linguini Fini before, it's pretty hard to miss.  What makes it stand out so much is its open facade and its bright red neon sign, shining like a beacon calling in weary travellers for a beer and a pizza.  We were led around the back of the restaurant and given a seat that had a prime view of the kitchen, which gave me a bit of a sense of Linguini Fini.  Know for it's fresh produce that's locally sourced, I could see fresh pasta hanging from the ceiling and one of the chefs handling a huge fish that looked like it was squirming about, it was so fresh.

Being such a hot night, we went straight for drinks, with SC ordering a Peroni, which was delivered in a tall, frosted glass. She got straight into it and heaved a sigh of pleasure once the crisp and refreshing brew passed her lips.  I had to wait for a little longer for my drink to arrive, but once the Mango Lassi was delivered, I eagerly got stuck into the sweet mango drink.

Refreshments sorted, it was time to look over the menu and get food underway.  With a pretty wide selection of typical Italian fare, the menu mostly focussed on fresh pasta dishes and pizza. There was a section for mains, but interestingly, they mainly focused on International style cuisine and were clearly on the menu to add a broader appeal to the tourists that flock to Soho in the summer months.  We decided to skip the generic westernised food and go for more traditional foods.

With a wide selection of options, SC oscillated between a couple of options before finally choosing one of Linguini Fini's signature dishes.  The Italian 'Xiao Long Bao', which was described on the menu as beef and pork filled agnolotti with tomato sauce, chilli oil and a 30 year balsamic.  When the dish was presented, they really just looked like fancy parcels of beef, much more like ravioli than 'xaiolongbao'.   Like good Italian food, there were few ingredients on the plate but as a consequence, the dish looked a little boring, there was no rich looking sauce to fill out the pasta.  Food is all about the taste, and the Italian xiaolongbao tasted fine, the pork and beef filling were nice, the key issue was that the pasta seemed just a little under and was not quite al dente.  Perhaps a tradeoff for the shape?  More likely they just needed an extra 30 seconds of cooking.

I'd taken a different route for dinner, ordering a pizza.  There was a funny exchange with our waitress when we ordered the pizza though.  Commenting that the pizzas were really big, she asked me if I wanted any starters for the meal.  My natural 'smartarse' nature came to the fore and I instantly responded that I wouldn't need an entree as the pizzas were really big.  Well, it seemed funny to me at the time!

I almost always order a Margherita, so didn't really study the menu when ordering.  If I had, I would have noticed that chili was also included on the Margherita as well as the traditional fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil.  As promised, the pizza delivered was huge, it could have easily fed a family of four for dinner.  It looked the goods, but as I took my first bite, the hit of chili kicked in and my mouth went into overdrive.  A few more bites and I was in complain mode, traditional Margherita does not have chili included in the sauce, but you can add after if you chose.  I guess I'll cop to not reading the menu clearly, so it's really my stupid fault, but I only ate a couple of pieces of the pizza and left it up to the girl to have a couple of slices so it at least look like we tried.

When our waitress came to take the pizza away and noted there was so much left over, I smiled and said she was right...  It was a huge pizza!  We turned down the offer to box up the pizza to take home.

Deciding not to take on dessert, we called it a night at Linguini Fini.

I should probably start looking at the prices of some menu items, the pizza I'd ordered was spectacularly expensive for a Margherita, about $50 AUD.  Sure it was big, but that's some expensive pizza.  SC's pasta was much more reasonably priced though, so it wasn't all bad.

So, after a quick Sunday night dinner we were left with a question.  Would we go back for dinner mid week on the way home from work?  Well, I think I'd give Linguini Fini one more go, but this time stick to the fresh pasta.  It's not so easy to find good pasta in Hong Kong (yes, there is some about), so if we can find a quick simple pasta place on the way home, it would be worth it's weight in gold.  

So, we'll give it another shot, but only one!

I'm not sure how much yoghurt was in my Mango Lassi - not much by the taste of it
The pizza was almost as big as the table!
Italian 'Xaiolongbao'?  Fancy name for ravioli?  Your guess is as good as mine
Homemade fresh pasta
The fresh pasta was hanging from the ceiling.  Our lesson was to order pasta next time!
Linguini Fini is a popular bar as well as restaurant

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